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Tom Ballard: a gay ’ol time in Adelaide

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It’s a February night in 2014 and I am travelling on a packed tram through the Adelaide CBD with a helium-filled representation of male genitalia on my head.

Let me explain.

After years in the wilderness, the comedy genius that is Dave Chappelle has returned to the stand-up circuit, and for the first time ever he’s made it out to Australia. His triumphant show at the Entertainment Centre is deeply smart and silly and hilarious (even if his hype-man DJ guy is ridiculous), but I’ve just had to run out of it so I can make it to my own (let’s be honest, considerably lower-key) show in a tent by a swamp in the Garden of Unearthly Delights.

I’ve stayed too long and am running late. It’s a Saturday night with no taxis in sight and I’m starting to panic because I am deluded and am sure that my audience will be furious if I, their comedy idol and ideological hero, fail to appear on time.

“Tom!”

I turn around to see two beaming, buxom ladies coming towards me and waving. These are my friends, the ladies of burlesque double act Titty Bar Ha Ha, who have just finished performing at The Gov over the road.

“Catching the tram?”

I am delighted to be reminded that this is an option and we jump on, along with a hundred or so Adelaideans heading in to get among the Fringe mischief.

“Fancy this, love?”

One of the ladies suddenly produces a balloon hat featuring a large balloon penis and testicles arrangement at the front. The main organ is an intimidating half a metre long and points directly upwards, while the balls hang down in front of one’s forehead. Titty Bar Ha Ha make one of these every night as part of their act for a lucky audience member.

I giggle like a schoolgirl and put it on immediately as everyone on the tram watches. Nobody freaks out or gets angry because it’s Fringe.

I make it to my show on time, have a lovely time with a lovely audience and start walking to a friend’s birthday celebrations. I have the perfect present for him, but before I gift him the headdress I want to enjoy it just a little longer and proudly wear it as I make my to the Producer’s Bar.

“Oi! Can I have your balloon hat?!”

A very drunk couple have emerged from a dark alleyway and the young woman is pointing at my prized possession.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I say, “I’m going to give it to my friend for his birthday.”

She pauses, turns stone-faced and then emits the classic phrase that echoes around schoolyards across the country: “Gayyyyyyyyyyyyy!”

I’m taken aback.

All I can think is: Yes. Yes I suppose it IS quite gay. I, a homosexual, am going to go around this corner and attend an event called Poof Doof (which, as the name suggests, is a night of doof music for poofs) and I am going to meet my homosexual friend and give him this balloon representation of male genitalia as a token of affection. I shall then order a vodka cranberry, dance to the music of Miley Cyrus and try to find a man to have sex with, so all in all, QUITE gay, thank you very much, and I don’t see ANYTHING wrong with that so for the final time ma’am you may NOT have my dick and balls balloon headdress I SAID GOOD DAY!

…I didn’t say any of that, though. I pretty much just ran away.

It’s just quite hard to be taken seriously while wearing a balloon dick and balls headdress.

I think you’d just come across as a terrible clown.

In his 2015 Adelaide Fringe show Taxis & Rainbows & Hatred, stand-up comedian and former Triple J breakfast host Tom Ballard will “get stuck into loneliness, labels, sex, love, finding the courage to be yourself and what all that has to do with a certain cab driver on a certain rainy night”. You can see it in the Garden of Unearthly Delights from February 13 to March 1.

This article is part of a series of contributions from Adelaide Fringe comedians.

More Adelaide Fringe stories:

Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind

Claire Hooper: Crazy stuff happens at Fringe

Comedian Justin Hamilton is homeward bound

What Would Beyonce Do?

Cut: A one-woman tale of terror

Velvet set to conjure a disco inferno

 

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