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.” 😉

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 😉

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 🙂

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 😉

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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Youtube is like peanuts…you can’t stop at one!

Bloody Youtube. It’s addictive. It’s done it to me again, like it has so many times before.

All I did was look for “Rollercoaster” by B*Witched. I found it but there was a list of other B*Witched clips on the side of the page. And so I looked at another one….and another one…and – well, you get the idea. You’ve probably done it yourself. Pretty soon your simple little web search has turned into an obsession/addiction.

And it doesn’t even stay with your original subject. You get led into something that’s vaguely related and suddenly it’s two hours later and you’ve just watched a series of completely bizarre unrelated videos and you’re wondering where your day went.

The humidity level in Sydney is 88% and probably higher in JudgeG’s flat. I’m sitting here sweating like a grunter and maybe that’s why I ended up on “Blame It On The Weatherman” by B*Witched. “Rollercoaster” is now “so like 5 minutes ago!” for me and it’s all about “Blame It On The Weatherman.” Can’t stop watching it and can’t get it out of my head..” Arghh!!!

My mood is now melancholy and sweaty! 😉

But I won’t blame it on myself, I’ll blame it on the weatherman.

And if we want to add a little Wikipedia obsession to the mix, I can tell you…

Blame It on the Weatherman” is a song by B*Witched, released as the fourth single from their debut album. Like the other three singles from the album, “Blame It on the Weatherman” reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart. With this B*Witched became, at the time, the first act to have their first four singles all debut at #1 in the UK. Despite success in the UK, it slightly underperformed reaching #9 in Ireland. It became the group’s first single to miss the top ten in New Zealand.
It was eventually included on the 2003 Charmed soundtrack as a bonus track, having been featured in the season five episode “A Witch’s Tail (Part 2)“.”

It’s just one more day
No one said
There would be rain again
Won’t blame it on myself, yeah
I’ll blame it on the weatherman
Get away for a while
Here I am out on my own again
Won’t blame it on myself, yeah
I’ll blame it on the weatherman

CHORUS :
Standing on the shore
Calling out your name
I was here before
I could see your face
Only clouds will see
Tears are in my eyes
Empty like my heart
Why do ya say goodbye

The rain goes on (on and on again)(repeat x2)

Alone I can hear
Hear our song
Playing for me again
Won’t blame it on myself, yeah
Just blame it on the weatherman

The rain goes on (on and on again) (x2)

B*Witched – Rollercoaster

I’ve been really slack about getting a lot of my CDs zapped over to my gorgeous new 16gb Sansa View Mp3 player. I end up listening to the same things over and over cos it’s easier than tracking down CDs and going through the whole ripping process (why haven’t they invented a machine that can rip 20 CDS at a time?). But one strange choice that is on my Sansa View is this one…Rollercoaster by the Irish group B*Witched.

It’s a light, fluffy pop song from a light fluffy pop group. But something happens to my mood every time it unexpectedly pops up when I’m on the train heading to work or heading into town on the bus. I get a smile on my face and flash back to 1998 which now seems a much simpler and more joyous time than 2010.

I think it is one reason I’ve become so addicted to Sweden’s Melodifestivalen – the fun and innocence of a light, catchy pop song is still there in abundance. When I look at the charts today both here in Oz and in the former home of pop music, the U.K., there’s nothing like “Rollercoaster” – the age of the innocent, fun pop song has gone it seems.

Meanwhile, back at B*Witched…..thanks to the magic of Youtube, I’ve put the clip for the song below. It’s silly, fun and a little camp. Who knew I’d still be listening to it 12 years later.

Nanne’s new single & video: I Natt Är Jag Din (Tonight I’m Yours)

The sensational Nanne has a new single coming. It’s a cover of a classic Tomas Ledin song. Nanne’s version is fabulous. I Natt Är Jag Din is coming out as a physical single in Sweden and I can’t wait to buy it. More info on the actual release when it comes to hand.

She’s done a gorgeous video for I Natt Är Jag Din – see Youtube clip below. It’s a fun and classy and cheeky clip and Nanne looks fantastic.

Meanwhile, for all things Nanne make sure you check out her official website: www.nanne.se

Larger than life!

It could have been named after me.


Something I shouldn’t have done on the weekend was step onto one of those machines that tell you your height and weight. I knew the answer was going to be unpleasant but was rather shocked when it came up as 90 kilos! I almost keeled over. I almost ate the piece of paper that came out of the machine just to destroy the evidence.

Of course, it wasn’t helped by the fact that I had 4 Balfours pasties on my first day in Adelaide. I only enjoyed 2 of them…the other 2 were just because they were there and I was there – a deadly combination. So that bloated me to the side of a house and made a couple of formerly comfortable-fitting T-Shirts suddenly feel impossibly tight on me.

But I was totally shocked. I really need to do something about it. It’s not good for my health or my self-confidence. I remember getting down to about 78/79 in a weight loss challenge a few years ago. Ideally I should be about 75kg. But that ain’t gonna happen any time soon.

As soon as Yoda gets back from his cruise, he’ll be roped into helping me lose some of this overt pudginess. Of couse my legs are thin, my arms are thin…it’s all gone to my tummy and my face. Thanks for nothing!

Why haven’t they invented a weight loss pill that actually works? Is that too much to ask!!!

A brief sojourn in Adelaide.

I’m back from spending the weekend in Adelaide. it was my Dad’s birthday and I wanted to go out with him and my brother. Unbeknowns to me, my niece and her partner were also in town and staying at Dad’s place. So it was a great family lunch at a nearby pub with a couple of long – and I mean looooong – term family friends joining us.

JudgeG with the niece and the Dad!

The weather was hot, hot, hot. Yesterday was 36C or something. Luckily it wasn’t too humid – Sydney had the humidity saved for my return last night. Within 5 minutes of being out of the airconditioned terminal, I was sweating like a grunter.

No Woolworths in Rundle Mall? NOT HAPPY, JAN!

A big surprise to me on my first walk through of Rundle Mall – the main shopping area of Adelaide – was that Woolworths had closed down. I was gobsmacked! I actually walked past it a few times because I didn’t believe it. I saw a few other people looking stunned as well.

Woolies in Rundle Mall is not just a shop, it’s an institution. It’s been there as long as I can remember and I go back to the um, well…let’s not talk about how far I go back. As well as being an institution, it’s also sorely needed. It provides everything from internet cafe access to a supermarket to general merchandise to alcohol. There’s nothing else like it in the Mall.

I kept involuntarily heading there everytime I went into the Mall…it was like auto-pilot. It’s being completely renovated and not opening until the end of the year. Too long, too long, I say! And I do hope they don’t try and turn it into some uber-modern, uber-stylish department store experience – that’s not why people go to Woolies and not why it has become such a huge success and a key part of Rundle Mall. I was thinking about our local Big-W at Campsie in Sydney which was completely renovated a year or so ago and now carries half the stuff it used to, most of it more expensive and less useful than before. It’s hardly worth going anymore. Please, please don’t let that happen to Woolies in Rundle Mall. It’s part of the town’s history!

Harris Scarfe...always on sale!

Across the road from the now defunct Woolies, Harris Scarfe – Adelaide’s downmarket department store – was having a sale. Another sale. I thought to myself “have I ever been in Adelaide when Harris Scarfe wasn’t having a sale?” I think not. Still, it’s a good shop and another part of Adelaide ‘s history.

My mother used to shop there every Friday afternoon after work – as well as John Martin’s, Myer and Cox Foys of course. Mum did all the big shops. And she had a “charge card” at most of them. I’d follow her around some Fridays if I was on school holidays as she went from store to store. She’d pay $5 off this account and $5 off that one. And, for Mum, no visit to the city was complete without a visit to the Myer Bargain Basement (sadly long gone) to see if there were any new Osti frocks to buy! It’s no wonder I’ve turned out to be such a shopaholic – I never had a chance!

The sun blazes down over Rundle Mall

I might have developed a bit of an instant tan on the weekend because the sun was blazing. I took this shot in Rundle Mall where, at this particular time, it was hot but not oppressively so. I just looked up and enjoyed the direct sunlight for a while and decided to snap off a shot. Now if I’d been in Sydney, I’d have been soaked after a few minutes thanks to the evil humidity which I still can’t deal with after living here for 25 years.

I also checked out the Hampshire Hotel, Adelaide’s only Gay pub. And again it was pretty dull. Perfect location, fabulous outdoor seating area and totally unimaginative management. I sat there lamenting “with the right management, this place could be huge.” But it’s Adelaide and nothing is going to change unfortunately.

I finished my time in my old home town by assembling and installing my brother’s new printer. He’s just bought a new Toshiba laptop and Canon multifunction device to go with it. We discovered on Sunday at 4.45pm that Canon had not supplied a USB cable with it. I raced to Dick Smith, arriving 4 minutes before 5pm – the time when all shops close in Adelaide on Sunday (yes, even the major supermarkets!) and picked up a USB cord. As the Canon manual hadn’t specified anything beyond “USB cable required” (with no illustration or description of which particular type of cable), I bought a standard USB cable which was precisely useless.

The software refused to install on the laptop without the printer being connected so everything came to screeching halt. Monday morning I went shopping for the correct USB cable and took a tram down to my brother’s place in the blazing heat to finish the installation job. It’s all working now – no thanks to cheap-arse Canon 😦

Crap service on Virgin Blue flight to Sydney

The holiday in Adelaide finished up with what must be the worst Virgin Blue flight I’ve ever had. Clunky old 737-700 which looked in need of a “Queer Eye” makeover combined with slow and hopeless service from the strangely ditzy and ineffectual cabin crew. No Diet Coke, warm beer only and no change. All delivered with the kind of slowness you’d expect in “Driving Miss Daisy.”

I don’t think I’ve ever really had a Virgin Blue flight like that. The cabin crew are usually on the ball, fast, efficient, bright and loads of fun. Still, I suppose we got there in one piece – that’s a blessing. Had it been Qantas the plane might have lost a part midflight due to the $2 maintenance job they do in Asia.

So that was my weekend: family, Adelaide, computers and oh yes, $7.50 for a 425ml glass of Stella at the Hampshire Hotel. Perhaps New York might be cheaper next time 😉

Melodifestivalen 2010 has begun!

And what a way to begin. “Holding Out For a Hero” by Nanne, Charlotte Perrelli and Sonja Aldén! James has tickets to the dress rehearsal of the Melodifestivalen final in Stockholm in a few weeks. Lucky bastard!

There is apparently a studio recorded version of this song – but it isn’t known if it will be released commercially. Oh the injustice! I have my money out ready to buy right now!!!