‘What else is there to do in Doncaster on a Thursday night?’
It’s great going to see your favourite acts live and all but sometimes it is alluring to go in blind. I knew next to nothing about Canadian comedian Tom Stade before his show at the Dome but I can definitely say I am a convert now…
Before Stade took to the stage, he treated us to a hilarious support act in the shape of fellow Canadian comedian Nigel Lawrence. The Santa Monica resident spent the first third of his act riffing on the ridiculously oversized stage in the middle of the cavernous Dome gymnasium, while also commenting on the fact that the venue had failed to provide him with a table for his beer, ‘I always find drinking a beer off the floor is the best way to drink a beer’ he sarcastically intoned. There was a wonderful moment part way through the set when a table was stealthily produced behind Lawrence resulting in a massive cheer from the crowd and an incredibly confused comic wondering why the audience had randomly started yelling in the middle of a bit. All in all Lawrence helped to set the tone for the evening, true pro’s on stage but strictly amateur off it.
Tom Stade waltzed out to rapturous applause only to find that there was no microphone in the microphone stand. As he correctly pointed out, this is really the only thing the venue needs to provide and yet it was lacking. Stade took the lack of organisation in good humour however and the constant failings of the Dome as a venue actually added to the show as a comedy spectacle. Stade has been a comic since 1989 and his gravelly voiced delivery recalls singer/song writer Tom Waits rather than any other comics. He combines his dulcet tones with a light and breezy persona. Imagine all the grime of Doug Stanhope without the anger or the politics. Indeed, I rolled my eyes at an early joke about Donald Trump, simply because making fun of Donald Trump is like shooting fish in a barrel (to paraphrase the Simpsons), but that one throw away comment was about as political as it got. Instead, the rest of the show was taken up with candid meditations on relationships, family and getting older. While this is well trodden ground in stand up comedy, Stade brings a personal touch that ensures the set is fresh and exciting throughout. Audience participation is constant but shared only between three members of the crowd who Tom constantly refers to. This lends the whole set a peculiar intimacy, a feeling of eavesdropping on a private conversation, and it is these interactions that lead to the funniest moments.
At one point Stade ruminates on the fact that he could afford a nice car ‘with all his sweet Doncaster money’ but he doesn’t because he is a boring old fuck. He laments the fact that technology has begun to leave him behind and teases similar confessions out of the two middle aged men he has discovered in the audience. When one crowd member admits he doesn’t have Facebook, Stade asks ‘how do you send people pictures of your breakfast?’ before imagining said member of the audience emailing out pictures of sausages to his bewildered friends.
As Tom Stade leaves the stage in metaphorical tatters following a blistering set, he politely asks the sound guy to play a little music to see him off. A stony silence follows as chaos rules once again. In a way though, this is the perfect end to a shambolic but utterly mesmerising live performance. If you ever get the chance to see Stade live, and he does tour the UK extensively, then I urge you to do so.
This article was written for Doncopolitan magazine: