/ comedy

Tom Ballard – The World Keeps Happening

Its 2016, the world is in chaos and we’re all fucked. So proclaims Ballard, transitioning quickly from his endearing witty banter, and musings on love and relationships, into the real heart of his show: social commentary on the absurd fucked-up-ness of the world.

Ballard attempts to solve all the big issues: terrorism, misogyny, and racism. While painting himself as an apathetic gen-Yer whose strongest relationships are with his iPhone and Netflix account, his passion for these issues is the heart that pulls the show together. Though, it is, perhaps, not a show for the easily offended. Many of Ballard’s jokes are crude and push boundaries that palpably elicit a ‘this-is-funny-but-I’m-not-sure-if-I’m-allowed-to-laugh’ reaction.

He suggests that pro-euthanasia patients should become Western suicide bombers in the war on ISIS ("two birds, one bomb"), and vividly describes the various sex acts that Rupert Murdoch can perform with Jerry Hall within the ‘sanctity’ of marriage, while his own sex life is pronounced ‘weird’ and ‘gross’ by our anti-marriage equality politicians. Yet his seemingly politically-incorrect style – complete with prepared defensive comments despite the audience’s audible laughter – is entirely, and importantly, political.

Layered beneath his often clever, sometimes vulgar, always hilarious observations and anecdotes, are messages about political hypocrisy and privilege, and the frustrations that many of us feel about our system. His outrageous reflections highlight the absurdity of politician’s real-life solutions and opinions, and his suggestion that we should have a national drug binge on Election Day seems almost reasonable.

Ballard is totally engaging throughout. His easy banter, particularly with Tania and her date, a couple who met ‘an hour ago’, demonstrate not only his wit, but his likeable, self-aware presence: ‘Fuck my material, you’re my show now’. He certainly knows his demographic, and perhaps he can get away with some of his cruder references because we’re all there with him. One scowling bald man, sitting with arms crossed in the centre of the front row, perhaps didn’t share the same political identity as the rest of the mid-twenty to early-thirty something crowd, and Ballard made it his mission, often peppered with defence ("please don’t call your mates") to make him laugh. Eventually, he got a chuckle, and so perhaps there really is something in this show for everyone. This is shrewd, belly-laugh comedy with both bite and heart.

★★★★

Lauren Butterworth

Lauren Butterworth

Lauren Butterworth is an emerging writer with fiction and essays in Wet Ink, Libertine, Indaily and forthcoming in Verity La. She podcasts at Deviant Women, and is co-director of The Hearth.

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