I was first recommended to see Andy Balloch’s ‘Am I The Drama?’ earlier this year when I was waiting to enter The Regent Theatre for a show.
An usher kindly suggested me shows to check out at this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Well not plural, just one, Andy’s show. Unfortunately, although I had initially intended to see Balloch’s show at the comedy festival, I had the misfortune of missing it. So, after a little over 5 months of patiently waiting, I leaped at the opportunity and my second chance to finally see this Golden Gibbo nominated show, now playing at 2023 Melbourne Fringe.
The performance begins while you’re waiting in line to enter the Festival Hub: Trades Hall – Corner Store venue room. Balloch as his character Taylor, comes out to greet you, dressed in a long white lab coat complete with a clipboard, name tag, and goggles. After a brief introduction, he guides patrons into the room. This whole starter had my curiosity piqued at what ‘Am I The Drama?’ had in store.
Upon taking our seats, we’re advised that we are at theme park and needed to strap in (or on) for our ride. The ride? A Back to the Future style scenic rollercoaster that takes us through different decades, guided and narrated by a disco ball sparkly hologram version of Andy Balloch. Within this ride we whirl through different moments of time that are all significant to Andy’s personal journey.
Along the way, we meet several characters that made me feel like I was willingly trapped in some kind of Adam Sandler universe with just how random, entertaining, and bizarre each character was. My favourite character of Balloch’s collection would be Ramone the Wellness Demon who works in hell and wonders the reasoning behind why the audience are there in hell with him, and what they are guilty of (I’d be guilty of the ‘pizza order’ sin but via proxy. I must confess, I am the one saying what I want to order, to the unfortunate person already on the phone to the pizza shop).
The way that Balloch switches between his characters is seamless and the use of audio in this show is genius. It also is never confusing who Andy is playing or where the story is going, and his execution is flawless. If anything, he makes everything look easy, when we all know for certain that it isn’t. The timing of the sound effects, right down to Balloch’s quick wit and fast-paced humour have all been written and ironed out to create the perfect show. All the while, ‘Am I The Drama?’ smartly and cohesively trickles fragments of thought-provoking social commentary and inspiring moral messages, appropriately placed in between all the laughs. It may sounds odd but it works brilliantly.
I adored Balloch’s storytelling. You really feel like you’re in a safe space with every second that Balloch commands the room. It’s hard not to love his funky characters either, to the point that when the show was over, I found myself wondering if these characters (especially Ramone) will make an appearance again in future shows beyond ‘Am I The Drama?’. All jokes aside, there is distinct level of sincerity in Balloch’s delivery which makes both him and this show so likable and enjoyable. I can only imagine how great his stories would be over a drink.
Andy Balloch’s ‘Am I The Drama?’ is phenomenally clever and funny as hell. Balloch has the power to make you laugh until your face hurts, yet also motivate you into wanting to help change the world, all the while simultaneously servicing and entertaining you. And only the most exceptional artists can achieve these all at once. Balloch’s talent is undeniable, an excellent writer just as much as he is a performer, ‘Am I The Drama?’ is a superb and hilarious triumph. I am super excited for everything this prolific chameleon creates in the not-too-distant future.
Andy Balloch’s ‘Am I The Drama?’ is now playing as part of 2023 Melbourne Fringe at Festival Hub: Trades Hall – Corner Store until October 22.
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Photography by Parenthesy.