Tom Stade: Oh Fuck, Do We Need A Title, Too?

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

‘C’mon people, that’s a funny fucking joke,’ Tom Stade appeals, not for the first time this gig. He thinks his material deserves so much more than the quiet-but-attentive Stand are, generally, giving him. There are more laughs in his desperate pleas for a reaction than there are in the original gags.

Stade has a point – to a degree - there are indeed some corking lines in his show, which mostly concerns his drug and alcohol use and the crushing oppression of being in a 13-year marriage. But then there are some so-so ones, too, about which he seems equally offended when they don’t bring the house down.

But it’s a curious sight to see him begging for applause. Literally. At one point, he won’t go on till he gets some, and, shifting uncomfortably, the audience put their hands together. A couple of gags later and the charade begins again.

It’s an interesting experiment in stand-up, for the audience do start giving him applause breaks from then on in. Very self-consciously at first, with no conviction, just knowing it’s the game that they have to clap if Stade is to move on. But by the end, they’re giving him lots of genuine applause, even if the material was no better than the earlier gags they just smiled at. Pavlov was right.

This isn’t the only comedy experiment going on tonight. While other comics have slickly prepared shows they’ve sweated blood over, Stade saunters on with a notebook full of gags, a full week into his festival run. ‘I’ve paid for the room so I can do what I like with it,’ he asserts. And doing what he likes with it means workshopping gags for a future CD.

So it’s not the tightest show. Even when he comes in on the hour with a lovely call-back joke looping back to the start and well-received by the audience, he doesn’t close the show on that natural high, but refers back to his notes and finds a couple more gags-in-progress he wanted to try out.

Stade’s relaxed delivery has always been a major asset, so here he’s allowed himself to kick back completely. Despite his solicitations for a reaction, he seems quite happy primarily entertaining himself, chortling away merrily at his own invention.

And there is plenty to laugh about. His fresh take on Jesus’s water-in-to-wine trick is a lovely reversal, and there are some especially nice lines about his penchant for the booze. As you’d expect from unfinished material, other segments are bumpier – he can’t improve on the true image using elephant dung for fuel once he tells us this fact, the kids-ruining-your-life topic is very close to the wife-ruining-your-life one and his ideas on the eight-limbed Indian baby some considered a God are interesting, but have not gelled into a great routine yet.

But even if this show is a bit sloppy, Stade’s sharp, bitter, downtrodden wit will still out to ensure more laughs in 60 minutes than a lot of the more slickly-presented offerings around the festival.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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