Tom Ballard is warm and charming and a wonderfully witty narrator who takes us on a thoughtful and funny journey in Taxis & Rainbows & Hatred. The former Triple J host centres his show around a taxi trip he took in Newcastle, diverging along the way with stories of other taxi trips, his travels, finding love and listening to Smooth FM.
He tackles big topics like religion and asylum seekers, yet his opening monologue about racial stereotypes about taxi drivers is a little off-colour, A lot of his material is based on his own experiences of coming out and the discrimination he’s experienced. He uses this to great effect and manages to turn his experience into funny anecdotes.
Ballard is smart, likeable and has a genuine presence on stage. He’s at his best with his locally-based gags, like his experience nightclubbing in Melbourne or taking cabs around Kings Cross; however, his story about a night out in New York is a real crowd pleaser.
The production is original and the use of blue lighting and rain sound effects to emphasise that grim night in Newcastle make it a clever and intriguing little show. It can appear messy at times and it could be tightened up a little but this is a comedy show – its structure can be forgiven. He displays clever use of his hour on stage, particularly when many of his punchlines aren’t funny at all. Rather an uncomfortable reality check about homophobic attitudes.