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Tom Ballard gives us much needed laughter in the face of the apocalypse, in Solastalgia

Solastalgia, by Tom Ballard takes existential dread over climate change—and manages to make us laugh, writes Jasmine Fischer
Issue 2810
Tom Ballard sits in a chair

Tom Ballard

Solastalgia by Tom Ballard on Radio 4 is definitely worth a listen for anyone feeling exasperated by politicians’ complacency over climate change. I actually saw Tom Ballard not too long before listening to this when he was a surprise appearance at a cheap comedy night.

He started by declaring himself a socialist who thinks the only way to get rid of capitalism is through revolution—but who can’t be bothered to attend branch meetings. It was an incredibly niche joke that got a small laugh and a single “woot” from me. This set is not quite so niche. But it’s worth having that story in mind.

Ballard explores the difficulties of tackling climate change in Australia, and being an activist amid what seems to a lot of us to be the general collapse of society. The act is not for the faint hearted and at times comes across as slightly depressing. But I found myself laughing the whole way through.

It’s a good sign of the times that comics like Tom Ballard feel more confident to express radical left politics in their performance and take on issues such as standing up to the fossil fuel giants.

Ballard starts the set saying that climate change is something that comics find challenging to joke about. As a political comic myself, I can confirm that’s definitely true. But I think he managed to find a way to make a joke out of the possible end of the world—and it’s a laugh I very much needed.

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