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They are young, funny and gay. While Ballard talks about kissing boys in his show Is What He Is, Gadsby takes on a much airier topic of self-discovery and general failure in Mrs Chuckles. We talk to both comics as they gear up to perform their stand-up gigs at a little known comic venue called The Belvoir Street Theatre.

TOM BALLARD

How do you feel about going on stage before Hannah Gadsby? Shocked, appalled and nauseated. I mean who even is she? Has she won awards? Heaps, you say? Well, what do awards really mean, you know? Plus she’s only been on Good News Week, Spicks’n’Specks, the Melbourne International Comedy Gala and Adam Hills’ new show and is now developing her own show about visual art with the ABC; whereas I was dux of Year 8.

Are gay people funnier than straight people? Yes. The men wear dresses. ‘Nuff said.

You are all of 21 now. When did you know you wanted to be a comedian? I think it was a gradual process. I was set on being an actor for a while when I was doing comedy, but eventually I realised comedy was more fun, more freeing and came with better drugs and alcohol.

What is your earliest memory? Being on top of a mountain with my family in country Victoria. I’ve blocked out all the “touchy touchy” period. JK LOL.

Describe your first and most recent kiss? My first was in a musical production of The Music Man when I was 15. The lead actress was forced to do grab my face and slam her lips against mine, both in reality and in the actual plot. I recently kissed a guy, just totally on the lips and stuff. He’s going to keep the baby.

What can the audience expect from Is What He Is? They can expect whatever they damn well please. What they’ll get is me talking for just over an hour, telling intimate stories about my life in a humorous way. Plus great walk-in music!

HANNAH GADSBY


How do you feel about going on stage after Tom Ballard? The same way I would if I sat on the wharf after Jessica Watson sailed around the world. Tom has all the youth, talent and confidence I will never possess and it will be a pleasure to share a space with him.  I will be leaving the champagne bill for him to pay.

It says on the Belvoir website that, “There is great pleasure to be had in laughing at her (you).” That’s not very nice. Do you have anything to say to Belvoir? I wrote that.  People laugh hard at me when I am trying to be serious.  It’s not pleasant but I have managed to find a vocation that suits this trait. I feel like a slow horse would feel once it finds out it’s good eating. I have purpose.

What do you think will be the biggest difference performing in a theatre company as opposed to a comedy club? I am hoping there will be more of a chance to explore ideas in a theatre space – for humorous effect of course.  Within the context of a comedy room there is pressure to arrive at punch lines as soon as possible and while this is a good aim it can be at the expense of developing broader themes.  I want to find the right mix while I’m at Belvoir.

Why Mrs Chuckles? Mrs Chuckles is that person who takes the world seriously and walks around with a face like a slapped arse.  I am often Mrs Chuckles.

What was your worst job? I tried to sell knives on commission for a while.  I almost sold a pair of scissors.  I needed three stitches.

What did you believe in when you were 18 that you wish you still believed in today? I was deeply depressed when I was 18.  I am glad that I don’t hold any of those destructive beliefs anymore. Except that I do. Gosh. Now look what you’ve done.

Feb 15 – 27, Belvoir St Downstairs Theatre, 25 Belvoir St, Surry Hills, $20-28, 9699 3444, belvoir.com.au

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