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Melbourne Comedy Festival: Tom Ballard - Problematic

Tom Ballard, Problematic
Welcome to the bubble, where Tom is preaching to a packed-house choir of lefties. To be fair, he left his bubble once, but ended up on a documentary series with Dicko, David Oldfield and Natalie Imbruglia in remote Central Australia, so he’s back in North Fitzroy and may never leave again.

The bubble, of course, is when we surround ourselves with people we agree with; separated from the other side by an ocean of Facebook algorithm. Problematic is about trying to figure out how to be the best form of yourself when everyone in the room agrees with you.

Ballard is a smart guy, as anyone who listens to his podcast would know. A lot of this show plays with the kind of angry-white-guy-comedian schtick you can see all over the Comedy Festival, but at some point, Ballard’s shouting becomes more than just complaining; he’s passionate and fired up.

“Who here likes political correctness?” And the audience was deathly silent.
“Who here hates political correctness?” No response again.

It’s the key to Problematic. Even people in Ballard’s bubble don’t know what to think about this loaded term and Tom spends a lot of time unpacking it. He’s angry about racism in politics and the rise of One Nation in Australia. He’s angry at Donald Trump being President. But is political correctness the saviour we need?

He’s also passionate about trying to get people to think about the words they use and how they deploy them. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. Ballard wonders why a primary school is allowing sticks and stones to break kids’ bones, while teaching them to toughen up in response to hate speech.

I’ve made this show sound super serious, but it’s really bloody hilarious.


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