Tom Ballard – Doing Stuff
Tom Ballard @ Rhino Room – Upstairs
7:15pm, Sat 25 Feb 2012
I’m waiting quietly in the downstairs Rhino Room bar, when an old classmate from an acting class I took last year came over to me. We start chatting about how much she loves the Fringe, and how – when she had media credentials one year – she went nuts and saw a massive twenty-three shows. I showed her my Media badge (acquired purely for Fringe Club fawning, I might add) and mentioned that this was my forty-fourth show this year… she laughed me off, thinking I was joking.
Some people, eh!
When we finally go upstairs, it’s a pretty full room, and I wind up sitting at the back on one of the stools chatting with a woman who was clearly gearing up for a big night out, and was laying down a pretty solid foundation of alcohol to booze on. The fun chat was interrupted when Tom Bollard stepped onstage after a very brief self-introduction.
Now, I’ve seen Bollard a couple of times before as part of the Feast Festival, and every time he impressed the hell out of me – whilst he’s relatively young, he still puts a very mature slant on his comedy with largely relationship-based material. But for this Rhino Room Fringe audience, Ballard reduces the amount of content that focusses on his own sexuality and replaces it with political banter.
And that’s a bit of a disappointment, really… because, not only is Ballard’s material devoted to his (gay celebrity) relationships bloody brilliant – and noticeable by its absence – but the political observations in their place are… well, not great. Pretty pedestrian, actually. And when he’s resorting to poking fun at the physical appearance of our politicians… well, I’m starting to think that he’s wasting his talent.
Luckily, he’s “helped” out by my aforementioned ex-classmate, who chimes in from the second row that Amanda Vanstone is pretty fat. Ballard looks at her quizzically for a moment before affirming her statement: yes, indeed, she is rather large, and what does that make her electorate – fat sympathisers? Then, en-route to his worst sex story ever (one word: stoma), he throws in a bit of work addressing the idea that political conservatives find homosexuality (and same-sex marriage) to be disgusting: consider, he proposes, the Ruddocks having sex. Or Bert and Patti Newton.
And that rapid-fire banter is pretty good, as is his wrap-up: doing stuff is important, he says, as long as the positive stuff you do outweighs the apathy towards the stuff you don’t do. And that’s a nice note to end on, but I still walked away pretty disappointed with this Ballard set; his Feast gigs have been much, much more enjoyable.