Tom Stade: Decisions Decisions | Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Brighton Comedy Festival

Tom Stade: Decisions Decisions

Note: This review is from 2014

Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Brighton Comedy Festival

Tom Stade is by no means the first fortysomething comic to muse on how a youthful irresponsibility has slipped trough his fingers. But the long-term Canadian emigre – 44 since it’s relevant – imbues his ponderings with an epic quality that elevates everyday observations to a philosophical treatise.

He is a master of hyperbole, making even a Boots 3-for-2 offer seem like a life-changing experience. So when he gets into the bigger-ticket issues of how his mind is writing cheques his body can’t cash, he powerfully emphasises the universal significance of the material.

Decisions Decisions refers to the ‘or’s life throws in his path. He could spend £350 fixing a cocaine-ravage tooth, or £50 just ripping it out. The ‘or’, he asserts, is rarely the sensible choice but usually the more exciting one. And when you have an 18-year-old brain in an adult’s failing body, you know which will be the more appealing when it comes to choosing the path of responsibility or the path of fun.

In previous shows he’s blamed his long-term partner –  a perhaps surprising 19 years and counting –  for crushing all his dreams; but here he’s more frank in accepting it’s all about the tug-of-war between the juvenile version of him, still actively tempted to chain-drink vodka shots or put a small fortune on a horse, and the middle-aged man he begrudgingly accepts that he has become. When he chooses wrongly, it comes with an emotional and sometimes physical cost – but such recklessness is an essential component of his comedy style, giving him a rock-and-roll appeal.

As has become something of a trademark Stade selects confidants in the audience – both a contemporary and a youngster – with which to share his ‘wisdom’. In repeatedly returning to each, the routine takes the form of a more intimate dialogue, like a bar-room philosopher telling an unwitting drinking partner exactly what’s what.

Without this trick, Stade’s declamatory style and well-practised script might seem impersonal – and there’s still an element of this. But the honesty in his confessions of fecklessness is endearing. Behind the slick posturing is a man still messing things up, and confessing as much unapologetically, and with bombastic wit.

Review date: 18 Oct 2014
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Reviewed at: Brighton Dome

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