Tom Ballard: Using comedy for change


It's a decidedly unfunny topic, yet Tom Ballard​ is using his latest stand-up comedy show to speak about Australia's refugees, history and our track record with racism.

For 26-year-old Ballard, he couldn't be more hyper aware of his "middle class white" status.

Yet it's that status that has afforded him a unique opportunity: to reach people that wouldn't normally be reached when it comes to the hot political topic of refugees.

It's a subject that's close to Ballard's heart, with the former Triple J radio breakfast host having visited detainee centres and spent time with the refugees being held there.

"There's certainly some stuff in the show that does not get laughs, is not meant to get laughs," he says.

"Because you are talking about the real trauma and the lives and deaths of actual people and the real reality for people who are in detention right now."

"Comedy is about the truth and exposing bullshit, and there is just so much bullshit in this debate..."

Over the past several years, Ballard says he has become frustrated with national dialogue surrounding refugees and those seeking asylum.

"I've found myself getting really angry about the way we treat refugees as a country.

"I figured if I could take that passion and interest and funnel it into my comedy I might come up with something that would be a different way for people to engage with the whole topic.

"I'm getting people to laugh at how insane things have got. These jokes are about me, they're about Scott Morrison, they're about our crazy racism, they're about our history as a country, they're about our bigoted attitudes."

Ballard's show is playing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and is the result of months of research, which included face-to-face interviews with refugees.

"Comedy is about the truth and exposing bullshit, and there is just so much bullshit in this debate so... let's expose that and laugh about it."