Tom Ballard live at the Comedy Store

Tom Ballard...simply irresistable

Tom Ballard...simply irresistable

Well, strictly speaking he was only one of the acts in a show billed as “Mardi Ha!” at the Comedy Store in the Entertainment Quarter (Fox Studios), Moore Park. The show is part of the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festival. Yes, it’s that time of year again.

I’m not particularly partial to stand-up comedians unless they’re extremely funny – and that’s a pretty unusual occurence thesedays. My main reason for attending (apart from James inviting me) was that Tom Ballard was appearing.

Mardi Ha at the Comedy Store in Sydney

Tom, as I’m sure you know, is one of my latest obsessions and part of the “Tom & Alex” duo now hosting Triple J’s breakfast show. Tom is an extremely tall, slightly pudgy, very attractive young guy who seems to be anywhere and everywhere at the moment. He’s also Gay but you’d hardly know it just from looking at him or hearing him speak. Sometimes he’s just a little bit too “blokey.” πŸ˜‰

As well as being on a national radio show, Tom does stand up comedy, writes blogs, writes for a regional newspaper, appears on Channel 10’s 7pm Project and basically seems to be taking over the entertainment world as we know it. I was very enthused to actually see him “live” for the first time – I’d not heard of any of the other comedians on the bill.Tom Ballard...he's everywhere at the moment It turned out that Tom was actually the weakest of the four acts – and I don’t mean to be mean when I say that. He’s got a charming presence and a terrific look but his material fell flat more often than not last night. I was a little disappointed until I realised “hey, I’m seeing Tom Ballard LIVE – he’s only a few feet away from me – who cares if he isn’t that funny?”

It wasn’t a “tough crowd” as they sometimes say, it was just that Tom’s material wasn’t very good. He’s got a long way to go in the industry and I’m sure he’ll continue to work on, improve and polish his act. I just didn’t laugh very much last night when Tom was on stage – and neither did anyone else. Would I pay to go and see him again? Hell yes! He’s Tom Ballard, he’s Gay and gorgeous – of course I want to see him live again. Maybe he’ll be better next time?

I was hanging out for him to mention Josh Thomas – another Gay Aussie stand-up comedian – who just happens to be Tom’s boyfriend. But he didn’t even bring the subject up. I think he really shot himself in the foot by not mentioning Josh. There’d be so much fun material he could include. I was going to call out at one point “what’s happening with you and Josh” – this was when Tom was mentioning Valentine’s Day – but thought better of it. Maybe next time πŸ˜‰

Rhys Nicholson...the classic Gay boy from Newcastle

The host for the evening was another another Aussie young Gay boy – Rhys Nichsolson. Rhys is from Newcastle which is about 2-3 hours north of Sydney. It’s a steel industry town and Rhys made much of the fact that it was a “shithole” to grow up in.

Rhys started off very average but as he continued to come on throughout the night to introduce each act, he got funnier and funnier. He’s quite camp, talks with a lisp and has a very cheeky smile. It would be hard NOT to like him. He had a few stories about disastrous incidents with his sex life and had a total “take no prisoners” approach to discussing female sex organs and why he doesn’t like them πŸ™‚

He also made much of being a “receiver” rather than a “giver” in all situations – particularly in his sex life. I think his delivery of material like this was brilliant. He’s self-mocking but not to an extreme degree – and he’s always ready with an aside like “too far? mmm, okay” when he felt perhaps the audience was a little too shocked by a particular line or story. I wasn’t shocked, I was lapping it up.

It was terrific to see a Gen-Y Gay that wasn’t full of their own self importance and, by the end of the evening, I really thought Rhys was one of the highlights of the whole night. He’s definitely a comedian I’d pay to see again. Even just to find out what’s happening in his crazy life!

Anthony Menchetti - pronounced "menketti"

Next up was a guy from Perth who comes from an uber-religious born-again type of family. He’s escaped to the other side of Australia and is doing very well. His parents didn’t cope well with him being Gay and I’m sure they’d hate his act as well. James and I, on the other hand, really liked it. In fact, Anthony was James’ favourite act of the night.

Anthony comes across as just a nice guy who’s had a shit upbringing but who hasn’t let it get the better of him. He’s turned it into something positive and taken to the stage! He has a Casio keyboard that he plays and performs humorous little songs to break up his patter. The songs were fun and it was good to see something different from the usual stand-up routine.

He also has some props – funny devices, funny newspaper articles and so on – and they all add to the fun. The antics of his parents were obviously the basis for a lot of his material – his mother sounds like a real nutter. But they say the best comedy comes from real-life situations.

Hannah Gadsby - saving the best for last

Last act of the evening was the best – at least in JudgeG’s humble opinion. And the most surprising for me – I thought “oh no, a lesbian comic – that’ll be painful” – oh how wrong, wrong, wrong I was. Hannah had me in stitches with her stories of growing up in Tasmania and her “funny Grandmother” (who wasn’t funny ha-ha or funny peculiar, she was just a c*nt!”)

Hannah’s delivery is slow and measured – she made fun of being from Tasmania at the start when she said “if you think the speed [of her act] is going to pick up, forget it!” She’s from Tassie and they’re all a bit slow down there πŸ˜‰

I kept thinking of my friend Patrick who is also from Tasmania and the stories he’s told us about life down there and his crazy family and relatives. I kept thinking “Patrick would bloody love watching this!”

Hannah made everything seem funny – from being a lesbian to being overweight, from having bad feet to just walking down the street. Literally. A story about her just walking down the street was absolutely hilarious. I just loved her. I hope she becomes a big star on the stand-up circuit here and internationally because she really deserves it.

So overall it was a really good night. I took heaps of pics but couldn’t really use a flash – it was a small, intimate venue (with only 1 toilet!) and flash photography would have been very rude to the people on stage. So the poor old Casio Exelim tried its best in the limited lighting but couldn’t quite cut the mustard. Most of the shots turned out blurred unfortunately. I wanted lots of good ones of Tom but that didn’t happen. He actually ran out after his act and went to do another show somewhere else – as I said, he’s everywhere at the moment. I just hope he doesn’t get “over-exposed” and become one of those celebrities that people love to hate.

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