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April 11, 2012 / Siobhan Argent

Tom Ballard in Doing Stuff – Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Published April 2012 in Crikey

Tom Ballard is one half of the bodiless duo of voices responsible for Tom and Alex’s radio breakfast show on Triple J. So it was a pleasure, at last, to connect the voice to a real-life body as Ballard touted his comedy festival show, Doing Stuff.

When comparing his stand-up to his radio work, it almost seems as though Ballard is the (funnier) Andy of a Hamish and Andy equation. When Ballard has co-host Alex Dyson to bounce material off, the comedy is at its funniest and most natural. Without a partner in the public arena, Ballard’s shtick is like listening to the sound of one-hand clapping.

The problem with Doing Stuff is that it is precisely what it describes – aimless and not always on the mark, although it is sometimes amusing. Ballard really falters with the political material, especially because it forces the audience onto a downwards slide before dragging everyone up again. It’s the old conundrum of two steps back, one step forward; Ballard is probably trying to get a little edgy, but by being uncomfortable with what he is presenting, he is cutting himself off at the knees in the process.

His sex jokery is where it gets funniest. There’s vomit, there’s oral sex, and Ballard manages to throw it all into the mix and come out with some painfully hilarious sex stories. Ballard’s self-deprecating nature slides out effortlessly, and it’s fortunate that he chose to end with the sex material. It might be older, but it’s still stronger than what came before it.

The great thing about Ballard is that he is so young and so evidently talented. This festival’s show just seems a big run-up to something that better defines the type of comedian that he is. Doing Stuff just seems to emphasise that he hasn’t yet grasped what that might be.

Tom Ballard in Doing Stuff is on Tuesday – Saturday at 7:00pm and Sunday at 6:00pm at the Swiss House from 29th March – 22nd April.


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