Tom Stade: And Relax

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Seventeen years in the business, and Tom Stade is playing to 15 low-energy people in a makeshift venue at midnight. That might dishearten some comedians, but this adroit Canadian pitches his act perfectly: 'Let's just sit back, relax, and see what comes out of my mouth,' he says reassuringly.

Under dimmed stage lights, and with an soothing ambient soundtrack running under his languid delivery, Stade certainly does set a laid-back mood. It's very clear we're in the hands of someone who knows exactly what he's doing.

And if we don't realise it, well he's quick enough to point it out - but in a way that seems comforting rather than boastful. Thus proving once more the point that he knows exactly what he's doing.

As if the atmosphere wasn't strange enough already, a Canadian compatriot in the front row confuses the show with a conversation, and constantly contributes his opinions and 'jokes', even at the most inopportune moments. But Stade's patient and playful, setting down ground rules that allow the man to have his say, without interrupting the material.

Some of the topics he mentions might seem pedestrian, how he lives in a shit town, for instance (well, it is Wolverhampton), or of the crushed ambitions of being in a long-term relationship. But it's all done with originality, flair and wit.

There truly is something for everyone in the material, from the shock-value routines about sex with a quadraplegic to well-told personal anecdotes to smart opinions on the state of the world.

He exposes the workings of his set, but it still makes us laugh ­ like Derren Brown explaining how the mind tricks work, yet ensuring they're still impressive when he pulls them off. Thisan education in comedy at the feet of a wise old sage. 'When you go out there,' he says, referring to other stand-up shows, 'you'll know a phoney.'

The idea that he's a guru imparting knowledge to disciples extends to much of his routine. He's lived a little, and has a realistic take on all the disappointments and compromises this existence can throw at us.

The material is novel and funny, the delivery masterful and the timing impeccable. Stade is in the stand-up elite, even if his audience figures suggest he's being criminally overlooked.

Steve Bennett

 

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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