Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Tom Ballard: Taxis & Rainbows & Hatred

By | Published on Tuesday 15 September 2015

Unless you’re from Australia, you may not yet have heard of Tom Ballard, but he’s a pretty big name in his native country. He’s begun the process of getting known in the UK, now, though, and recently had a very successful first run at the Edinburgh Festival, securing critical love and affection as well as a Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award newcomer nomination.


This week, he’s on at the Soho Theatre, performing the same show that garnered so much attention at the Fringe. Ahead of that, I sent him some questions, to find out more about ‘Taxis & Rainbows & Hatred’, and about his career thus far.

CM: Tell us what to expect from the show. Does it have a particular theme?
TB: The show’s about the worst taxi experience of my life and how it got me thinking about standing up for yourself, coming out, homophobia, love, STIs, politics, MDMA, and love handles.

All in all, fun for the whole family.

CM: How would you describe your type of comedy?

It’s personal storytelling-y, smart-arse-y stand up, ie, fun for the whole family.

CM: You made your Edfest debut this summer, didn’t you? What made you decide to take on the Fringe beast? Did you have a good time? Just how tiring was it?
TB: It was exhausting and I became very sick of my jokes (and literally sick) but it was honestly one of the most exciting experiences of my career. I wanted to do it for the challenge and to become a better comic and because I’m just so sick of not being in debt.

Safe to say I achieved my goals!

CM: You’ve been extremely successful in Australia. Does it feel like having to start all over again when you head for a new territory like the UK?
TB: Yes, and that’s actually really exciting. It’s cool to get up in front of people who have no idea who you are, and prove that your stuff can stand up under scrutiny. Plus, making a room full of people laugh on the other side of the world is a real thrill.

PLUS there are shitloads of Australians here anyway. Slowly, by staying in all your hostels and working at all your pubs WE ARE TAKING BACK THE MOTHER COUNTRY.

CM: You first came to attention at the tender age of 16, so presumably you were fairly clear at an early age that performance was the kind of thing you wanted make a career of? When did it begin? When did you decide that stand-up was for you?
TB: I originally wanted to be an actor, then failed to get into drama school, then slowly realised that in stand up you get ALL the attention, you can swear more and work less and get access to a lot of free beer. It was not a hard decision, in the end.

CM: Who or what influences your comedy?
TB: Everything influences it: what I think, what I read, what I do, music, movies, politics, the internet, sex, food – anything. I’m trying to solidify my own voice onstage so hopefully it doesn’t sound like I’m aping anyone, but I love going to see comedy to get inspired and be reminded that there are no rules and it’s good to be ambitious. I love Stewart Lee, Daniel Kitson, Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Lawrence Mooney, Jon Richardson, Anne Edmonds, Tripod, Pajama Men, David O’Doherty and approximately 300 others.

CM: You’ve done quite a lot of TV and radio. Do you think those media will take priority in the future, or will you always feel a draw to live performance?
TB: I absolutely love stand up and think it’s what I’ll do for as long as I possibly can. But there’s so much exciting stuff going on in TV at the moment and I really love radio and podcasting – basically what I’m saying is I’M AVAILABLE. I would love to write a play and a book and a film and do it all but we’ll see how we go.

CM: Do you have any special plans for your time in London?
TB: I think I’m going to go back to St Paul’s because I love it so much. As a homosexual I’m legally required to attend a musical on the West End. I do love eating things, so I will hunt down some good places and sit and eat in them, alone and reading like worldly wanker.

CM: What’s next for you?
TB: I fly back to Aus-traya where I have to find a new house to live in in Melbourne and start writing a brand new hour of jokes. Do you know any good jokes? If so, please send them to me.

Tom Ballard is on at Soho Theatre until 19 Sep. See the venue website here for details and tickets.

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