Tom Ballard: The World Keeps Happening | Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett

Tom Ballard: The World Keeps Happening

Note: This review is from 2016

Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett

Twenty-six-year-old Tom Ballard despairs for the current state of political apathy, epitomised by the feeble, lazy ‘clicktivism’ engagement of his entitled generation.

Yet you could never accuse him of such inertia, for with two full-length solo shows, and very little overlap between them, he’s surely one of the hardest-working comedians this festival. What’s more, he hasn’t compromised on quality, making him the first act in the history of the event to be nominated for a Barry Award for two offerings combined.

While Boundless Plains To Share (reviewed here) drilled deep into the history and issues surrounding Australia’s attitude to refugees, The World Keeps Happening is a broader hour of stand-up, but still with a sharp social and political edge.

‘Islamic State’ terrorists, feminism, the offence caused by celebrating Australia Day on January 26, drugs policy – and just a touch on the refugees – all get a look-in. Compared to the fierce focus of Boundless Plains, this feels a little more diluted, but each section shows an astute and cutting comic mind at work.

He’s got the commitment to push through to some extremes – for example, creating a gruesome image of Rupert Murdoch in a routine that started off as a call for marriage equality. But Ballard maintains a nice-guy persona that cuts him a lot of slack when it comes to bad taste, as well as the fact that any excesses are usually in the service of some greater point.

That likeability also comes to bear when revelling in his own sex-and-drugs hedonism in sections that are as much celebration as shame. You’re never too far from a self-effacing story, such as the time he stuffed up while hosting Q&A, a mistake he lays entirely at the door of whoever made the decision to book a young comedian to host a political discussion show.

Ballard seems a little off-point on his delivery tonight, and is most apologetic of the fact, which means he finds it hard to build up the head of steam needed to blast this gig to another level. But this is a vitally relevant show, boasting plenty of excellent routines underpinned by a biting wit and fierce social conscience. Ballard is primed to be at the forefront of a new generation of politically motivated comics, and you couldn’t want for a more dynamic poster boy.

Review date: 12 Apr 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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