After getting up at 4am every morning since 2009, Tom Ballard certainly needed a break; and his new comedy show at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival, UnAustralian(ish)’, focuses on just that. He takes us on a raucous ride back in time to explore all the great (and terrible) things Australia has to offer.
Last year, the Warrnambool born comedian finished up four years as Triple j‘s breakfast host. His long-time friend and co-host, Alex Dyson, has stayed on, with fellow comedian Matt Okine taking Ballard’s place.
UnAustralian(ish) transports us all the way back to 1995, when a young Ballard was in his first year of Primary School and his family took an epic 3-month road trip around this glorious sunburnt country. Ballard presents us with memories from the journey through a holiday slideshow – dodgy projector and all – and enthusiastic diary entries from himself and his older brother Gavin.
As one of the greatest comedic voices Gen Y has to offer in Australia, Tom Ballard’s comedy is fresh and relatable to the audience, which is made up of mainly 20-somethings. Targeting this demographic, his show offers a social commentary on Australia’s history as we travel with back to all the small, quirky towns with him.
There’s the big things – the big barramundi, the big wine cask and the big potato (which apparently looks like it’s “come out the other end”).
There’s all the breathtaking beauty, such as climbing the sacred Uluru, which 5-year-old Tom described in his journal as “just a big rock”.
There’s the mundane things like drinking three cokes, eating fish and chips seven times, and seeing ‘Batman Forever’, which all somehow made it into the journal.
And then there’s the grand finale, the Ballards finally reaching ‘Hollywood on the Goldcoast’, where Tom tells us going to the Coast’s themeparks were the four happiest days of his life.
Ballard eagerly includes audiences members in his standup routine, pausing on moments for us to fully understand the joke he’s just told, and he loves to poke fun at himself even in the most unflattering ways.
He quips to the audience that comedy is a hard gig to make money in, jokingly regretting having not gone to a commercial radio station after Triple j and claiming the station has “gone to the dogs” after he left, playing on the criticisms it’s constantly bombarded with.
Ballard’s young and boyish charisma certainly shows in his comedy. But it’s not all penis jokes and bogan shaming though, he also uses humour to tackle serious issues such as homophobia and asylum seekers.
UnAustralian(ish) is a hilarious ride through Australian culture, with Ballard allowing moments for us Aussies to do what we do best, poke fun at ourselves. The show is a definite must see for any Ballard fan and will certainly be one of the highlights at this year’s MICF.
This review was written for and published on the website for SYN Radio Reviews.