WRITTEN BY AMANDA JOSEPH
© Photos Credited to Tom Ballard, Twitter
I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when my Aussie friend, who is living in London, suggested that we go see Tom Ballard over the weekend she was up for the Fringe. I had never heard of him before, and when she mentioned he used to a DJ on hipster Aussie station TripleJ, I was a little wary of what to expect from the show on Sunday evening, but tagged along in any case.
Surprised, delighted and thoroughly entertained, I haven’t been able to praise this show highly enough since seeing it. Ballard’s performance is so poignant for these times. At once side-splittingly funny, whilst still delivering an important message, surrounded as we are by a barrage of alt-right propaganda, misogyny, bigotry, racism and hatred. Ballard isn’t for the faint of heart, or the easily offended but he sure packs a punch covering everything from political correctness to middle class privilege.
A quintessential millennial himself, happily living in a bubble of middle classed privilege and having grown up as a white male to boot, Ballard expounds on the culture shock he experienced when he joined the high-brow Australian reality TV show First Contact. Here, six Australian celebritity were taken out to Aboriginal communities to experience life in one of the most remote landscapes, with some of the most disenfranchised peoples. Faced with abject racist rhetoric from David Oldfield, Ballard brings his experience to light by taking the mickey out of the constant struggle of a generation born into privilege but fighting for equality in a system that is rigged towards the One Percent.
Ballard, with humour and animated eloquence unravels issues from political correctness to privilege, in a generation where we have the likes of Trump and Pauline Hanson (the leader of the alt-right racist One Nation political party in Australia) openly propagating hate from positions of political power, whilst still leaving some ambiguity to what are complex topics.
Both ironic and playful, Ballard delivers an incredible, meaningful and heart-felt performance with so much energy that you’re guaranteed to leave with a belly sore from laughing. Although, I should say there was one patron that seemed less than impressed by Ballards antics – ironically an old, white, middle-class man who sat with his arms crossed and a frown on his face the entire time. Which, I suppose, just highlighted Ballard’s points with further, if unintended, irony.
Tom Ballard is at the Pleasance Courtyard until 27 August.
Read more of Amanda's writings on her blog, the Soulful Vagabond.