Tom Ballard: Taxis & Rainbows & Hatred
An equality-pushing set from an act who has mastered his stage
This article is from 2015.
It's a confident comedian that skips the welcome preamble and opens with a joke about suicide bombers. Tom Ballard is gay, a self-proclaimed member of the 'no pussy party'. Originally from small-town Australia, he's come up against homophobia, in particular from taxi drivers, and these incidents provide a neat framework for a tightly written show that finds a wealth of humour in people’s attitudes – positive, negative or just plain weird – towards gay men.
Even when the subject matter gets serious, addressing homosexuality in Russia and Uganda, he pulls big laughs playing out the imagined fear of the homophobes. There's also plenty of tangents from the subject with Aussie insults, the negative effects of MDMA on pulling technique and the near-fatal attention-seeking of the youngest Von Trapp sibling being particular highlights. Beneath the mocking, however, is a powerful exposure of the 'otherness' experienced by those who aren't heterosexual and a genuine message of equality.
Ballard effortlessly commands the stage, so even when an impromptu round of applause following his STI recovery wrong-foots him, he bounces back in style. His assured presence would see him at home in a much bigger venue and there's certainly a gap to be filled. As he acknowledges himself, 'what other comedian would use "anal swab" as a punchline?’
Assembly George Square Studios, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 17, 24), 9.15pm, £9–£11 (£8–£10).