‘I’m successful and funny!’
Although he was joking (I think), his words were completely spot-on.
Having only just turned 21, Ballard is living the life that most of us only dream. He was born in Warrnambool, and after becoming a three-time Class Clowns National Finalist, a RAW National finalist, a presenter on Warrnambool’s 3WAY FM community radio station, and college dux with an ENTER of 99.80, he is now a Triple J breakfast host and a fully-fledged comedian.
His show in this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival is called Since 1989, and covers some personal and comical events from his life that has brought him to where he is today. He reads excerpts from a journal his mum kept from when he was growing up, and discusses various life lessons including drug-affected incidents, what it takes to be a man, Generation Y, and relationships.
Most Australians who are in the know about our local comedians will be aware that Ballard dated fellow comedian Josh Thomas for a while, which ended mid-2010. Since 1989 focuses largely on this relationship, as Thomas was a significant part of Ballard’s life — his first love.
Ballard’s show was extremely entertaining. He had some interesting personal stories to tell, which probably wouldn’t have been funny coming from anyone else but him. I expected Ballard to appeal mostly to young viewers, especially with his jokes about Facebook and popular YouTube clips, but he somehow managed to get everyone else laughing too. He even made time for the younger audience members to explain one of his jokes to the older audience members around them, making sure that everyone in the crowd understood his Gen Y humour.
Picture the guy in high school who had the ability to make parents and teachers adore him, even when he was doing or saying something inappropriate. That’s Tom Ballard. He’s the blonde dorky-looking boy who can make fun of old people (who he defines as anyone over the age of 32) to their faces, and have them actually laugh along with him.
I felt that Ballard had too much of a focus on his relationship with Josh Thomas in his show. He had a whole heap of other material that I would have liked to see him elaborate on, such as his mum’s journal or more embarrassing stories from his 21st birthday. This show was different to others at the comedy festival because it didn’t simply focus on trying to be funny — it had some sad undertones and emotions intertwined. Ballard spent a lot of time cracking jokes about his heartbreak, and sometimes it was hard to figure out whether he was actually laughing about it, or whether he was crying on the inside. But perhaps that was his intention.
Overall, Since 1989 was well-structured, clever, inappropriately brilliant, and is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. As Ballard described it afterwards, his show is ‘sadness, sadness, and happiness in the end. That’s all you need to know’.
Oh, and he’s really tall. He told me to include that.
Sofia Monkiewicz is a Journalism Honours student at La Trobe University and is a member of the upstart editorial team. She loves theatre and music, and is currently working on a thesis about the role of arts journalism in Melbourne.