Comedy review: Tom Ballard – The World Keeps Happening

Shortlist for Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards, Best Newcomer. Tom Ballard
Shortlist for Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Awards, Best Newcomer. Tom Ballard
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Tom Ballard may decry his elevation to hosting a political discussion show in Australia, a 26-year-old university dropout steering the debate on important issues.

Star rating: ****

Venue: Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17)

But he’s no lightweight. Following up his best newcomer-nominated hour last year, this is a wide-ranging, punchy, fiercely impressive state-of-the-planet address.

After a preamble in which he establishes his weakness for alcohol and his phone addiction, he cannily aligns the political situation in the UK and his homeland, identifying a dystopian trend that’s all the better for making his jokes work. Passionate but ill-disciplined, he doesn’t claim any moral superiority. But he attacks Australia’s immigration policies with cunning and mischief, satirising migrants’ exclusion from the process with perverse arguments, and inverting bigotry in similar fashion.

He might despair at the perpetuity of economic inequality but admits his own privilege, rather too close for comfort to the David Cameron he envisions patronising the proles on the Titanic. Reflecting upon the US presidential race, there’s savagery in his analysis of Hilary Clinton’s careerism, unfavourably comparing her to Islamic State. But he strives to offer a little light and shade, suggesting a practical if cutesy tip for defusing the horror of terrorist reports on the news.

As the show develops, Ballard makes his irritations more personal, lambasting misogynists, maintaining objectivity in the feminism struggle as a homosexual with nothing to gain. He also mocks the gay marriage movement for taking inspiration from the animal kingdom, noting that it’s an analogy that they might not wish to push too far.

Engaged, conscientious and consistently, archly funny, Ballard is precisely the sort of political commentator the world needs.

Until 28 August. Today 9:15pm.

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