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BWW Interview: Tom Ballard talks #KWANDA: A PLAY at Melbourne International Comedy Festival


BWW Interview: Tom Ballard talks #KWANDA: A PLAY at Melbourne International Comedy Festival This year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Tom Ballard (Tonightly, three-time pretend Tony Jones) presents #KWANDA, a satirical play with a very cheeky resemblance to ABC's Q&A. It's a show so entertaining and so funny, you might even #tweet about it.

The satirical play is about politics, words, honesty and The Discourse. Five panellists join a veteran journalist host on the nation's flagship discussion program, ready to answer audience questions about the 2019 Australian federal election. It's set to be a scintillating display of civilised and enlightening debate.

Directed by Alan Brough (Spicks n Specks) with an all-star cast, including Geraldine Hickey and Double Denim's Michelle Brasier, this show is a must-see this comedy festival. We chatted to Tom about his foray into the theatre.

Hello! Let's start with an easy one. What have you been up to since we last saw you at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival (MICF)?

I have been bravely fighting our evil fascist government through the power of scathing satire on my nightly comedy show Tonightly with Tom Ballard.

Then that got cancelled and now I'm back to doing this.

Presenting a narrative/play at MICF is a little different to how we've seen you in the past. What made you get theatrical for the 2019 festival?


Plus I've always wanted to be a "theatre-maker" that creates "work" for "the space". Ever since I played Blitzen in a 1997 production of Rock'n'Roll Santa, I've felt the theatre is where I belong and now I'm trying to get out of the disgustingly low-brow world of stand up comedy/clowning to make serious powerful work that will change the world.

For those who think the MICF is sitting on the couch with a cuppa and watching the Gala on a Sunday night, what should people know about this show?

My stand up show ENOUGH is me yelling and losing my mind over the cruel injustices that capitalism inflicts on us plus jokes about UberEats and a fart I did once.

My play #KWANDA is an imagined episode of the ABC's Q&A program that goes horrifically wrong but also oh-so-right.

What's the worst thing an audience member can do you at your show? How should people behave?

The worst thing you can do is not laugh. You can answer a phone call or eat a large bowl of stew in my show, but not laughing at my very clever observations is the height of rudeness.

It's a sad and scary time in the world. Does that help you make people laugh or are we all so miserable it's making your job harder?

As a political-ish comedian, the slow collapse of society is really great for material. People seem very keen to have a brief moment of catharsis in their comedy, and I'm happy to sell it to them.

Do you have any other show recommendations for this year's MICF?

So many! Dan Rath is hilarious, as are Double Denim, Tommy Dassalo, Michael Williams and Lazy Susan. Everyone should go see The Comedy Zone every year as it's always a brilliant showcase of the best new faces in Australian comedy.

#KWANDA: A Play is on at Melbourne Town Hall until April 21 as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Get your tickets for #KWANDA here!

You can also see Tom Ballard in his stand up show ENOUGH at Melbourne Town Hall & Max Watt's until April 21. Get your tickets for ENOUGH here!

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