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Tom Stade Totally Rocks! Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

In 1995, Tom Stade married a girl he’d known for three months. In Vegas, while drunk, and wearing denim shorts and a cowboy hat. We know this because he has the embarrassing video to prove it.

Seventeen years later, and he’s still married to Trudy. Pretty remarkable, given the rush of youthful, lustful infatuation has long subsided. Things have certainly changed between them, and he’s not afraid to explain exactly what.

This Edinburgh-based Canadian isn’t the only fortysomething comic to comment on the transition from feckless young man  to the stability of a long-term relationship. Indeed, you might spot a few clichés even in this strong hour – but they are clichés of life as much as they are stand-up, and Stade feels they need to be addressed.

Luckily he does so with a flair and punchiness that puts a crisp sheen on what is frequently blunt material. Some of the edges are further knocked off that by constantly seeking affirmation from the audience. To make us complicit, he nominates two couples in the front row and passes almost every hypothesis of marriage by them before expounding his theory. ‘That right, Kev?’ That combines with the tight rhythm and carefully-placed stress of his sentences to give his utterances a purposeful punch.

He mixes well-articulated observations of the familiar with graphic descriptions of his sex life and edgier comments, cheekily raising some harsh realities about his wife and his relationship with his children that can only be true, but would never be mentioned… at least in polite society.

Speaking of things that shouldn’t be said, Stade has a piece about a disabled passenger in a train carriage who was unable to control his speech; a routine which seems designed to make his audiences feel uncomfortable. Though he tries to explain it away by saying he’s laughing at the ‘situation’ not the person, you can’t help feeling he’s getting laughs from impersonating the only sounds the unfortunate chap. Yes, even if Stade did have an uncle with Down’s Syndrome.

Still it’s testament to his abilities that he pulls this off without anyone making the leap from awkward to offended, and he brought the topic back to his domestic situation just in time. The show does start to run out of steam a little a the end, as demonstrated when the big relationship issues make way for routines about Groupon. But after 17 years of marriage, that’s what his life has become…

Review date: 6 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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