sun 18/08/2019

Tom Ballard | reviews, news & interviews

Tom Ballard

Tom Ballard

Australian comic with a pleasingly original take on modern life

Tom Ballard was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award at this year's Fringe

Australian stand-up Tom Ballard was nominated for best newcomer in last year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards for Taxis & Rainbows & Hatred; last month he went one better with The World Keeps Happening, which gained him a nomination for the main award.

It's a loose follow-up to the 2015 show – more political observational comedy with a strong social conscience, but with rather less about him being gay. The blokey-looking 26-year-old mentions it early on with a gag about Grindr, but it's a minor element among the political and social comment.

He starts with some easygoing gags about his generation's fixation with smart technology - “I've been more upset about my iPhone dying than some people in my life” - but it's soon into the political, although he likes to undercut his more serious stuff with a gag about popular culture. So whether it's Brexit, the importance of being a feminist, the political ambitions of Isis, how the world is going to hell, or the deep seam of racism in Australian life, it's followed by a joke about Justin Bieber suddenly being cool, or how to rage against Rage Against the Machine.

He's a clever and charming guy and a confident performer, and there is some very shrewd material here – particularly about the possible number of gay men attracted to Isis – but the outbreaks of faux rage, complete with stamping his mic stand on to the floor, can become a little tiring, even tiresome, or certainly did when I saw the show in Edinburgh.

He also tells us rather too often that we're outraged or shocked by something he has said when clearly we are not (even his riff fantasising about 9/11 and Donald Trump), but Ballard has a pleasingly original take on much of what he says about modern life. One to watch.

Tom Ballard is at Soho Theatre, London W1 until 17 September

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