The first time this writer saw Tom Ballard’s stand-up show, the young queer comedian regaled the audience with a toe-curlingly embarrassing story about how his lusty teenage hormones had once led him to have a wank under the desk during Year 10 scie
It was the sort of cringeworthy confessional tale that Ballard had, up until then, based his career on.
Since then, though, Ballard’s focus has turned to larger topics. Angered by conservative commentator Miranda Devine’s views on same-sex marriage, he uploaded an eloquent 13-minute riposte to YouTube last August.
Emboldened by the success of the clip (24,000 views at last count), Ballard’s keeping the political theme with his new Sydney Comedy Festival show, Doing Stuff, in which he looks at the quest to make the world a better place.
So is this the end of the line for the brilliantly funny smut of Ballard’s earlier stand-up sets?
“You’d think, wouldn’t you?” the comedian chuckled to the Star Observer.
“I actually spend the show trying to get to the bottom of why some people are so against gay marriage. There’s a lot of intellectual debate around it, but I think it’s fundamentally about people getting grossed out about gay sex.
“So I try to show that gay sex can be gross — but so can most straight sex, so that’s no reason to object to gay marriage. I spend quite some time detailing the sexual habits of straight people who I think would be awfully disgusting.
“But before that, the first half is very intellectual and policy-informed. There’s something for everyone!”
Ballard described the show as “a pretty angry rant about gay marriage”, a topic that’s bled into many areas of his career lately, including his role in Sparks, the pointedly political web series starring Brendan Maclean as a gay wedding planner angry he’s been denied the same rights as the couples he works for.
“It is a hot topic for comedians who happen to be gay at the moment, but I don’t feel like it’s hacky or overdone — it just feels right,” Ballard said.
“The Miranda Devine video was me having a crack at doing something at something I felt passionate about. A lot of people sent me very nice emails saying it meant a lot to them, but I don’t know whether it changed Miranda’s mind about anything.
“I liked the video and I was proud of it because it was me doing what I can do in a creative way to help the cause.”
INFO: Tom Ballard, The Comedy Store, Moore Park, May 11 – 12. www.sydneycomedyfest.com.au