Tom Stade Review

If you have ever seen Tom Stade on TV, maybe on Mock the Week or Live at the Apollo, then you probably aren’t fully prepared to see him live. Yes, these programmes showcase his quick-witted stand up talent, but they are also subject to television guidelines and censorship. If, however, you are one of the dark-humoured few who appreciated, on some morbid level, the deeply blue and banned jokes of Frankie Boyle on the same programmes, then you would have enjoyed Tom Stade.

A Canadian emigrant who has been living in and touring the UK for around about eight years now, Stade seems to be pretty in touch with the British sensibility, something which is not necessarily well understood by those outside of our craggy little rock. His sense of irony made itself visible from the moment he first swaggered onto the stage at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre as he acknowledged, that yes, he had done his own backstage voiceover introduction. One of the first laughs for locals, however, came from his inability to pronounce Aberystwyth, instead mangling the name into something along the lines of ‘Aber-it-witch’ – we’ll let that one slide. His appalling attempt at a Welsh accent though…

Stade warmed up the audience by playing off a few (un)willing victims. A heavily South-Walian accented couple from near Swansea seemed to have him baffled for a moment, but once he appeared to have them figured out, he played well off the two, batting back and forth between boyfriend and girlfriend, making some very deep enquiries for someone who had only just met them. He soon found a married couple to interrogate too, whose mortified son who had accompanied them now knows much more than he ever wanted to know about his parents’ sex life and his own conception. Stade bypassed many social barriers in the name of comedy and for the most part the audience laughed through their shock at his unabashed attitude. These shameless questions did lead somewhere beyond the slightly perverted as Stade fell back into a well-practiced routine, musing on life after marriage and children. Not everyone present, myself included, would have been able to sympathise with Stade’s apparent wedded plight, but it was told with such precision comic timing and deadpan expression that we all laughed at the universal truths he unearthed. The bleak was mixed in with the curious delights of the middle-class everyday, from doing things that aren’t fun but ‘nice’ to questioning just why you would want to go to an indoor nature museum. To look at nature. Inside.

It was with the unveiling of comedy sidekick Jimmy that things took a turn for the morbid. With the aid of this unsuspecting audience member, transformed into the fictional Chinese character of Jimmy, Stade took his audience on a whirlwind tour of the world from seal-clubbing in Canada, to impoverished fat Americans, to litter-picking children in Africa, closing with his and Jimmy’s confused pilgrimage to Mecca. These jokes picked and chose from the observational and the topical- no real knowledge of politics or world news was required but an understanding of other cultures made them funnier, if only because they were horribly true and insightful. Stade jokes about these things because he cares. Apparently.

This was a good show, with constant and consistent laugh out loud moments. Stade is a comedian to watch out for, but maybe not if you’re easily offended.