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Tom Stade: ‘You’re Welcome!’, UK Tour 2016

| Comedy, Festivals | 24/06/2016

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By Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Tom Stade, the live wire Canadian comedian, hits Glastonbury this weekend before finishing off his UK tour and taking a well-deserved break at the end of 2016.  Years of performing up and down the UK have paid off for Stade: he’s conquered his adopted homeland, featured regularly on TV and built a reputation for his deceptively powerful stage presence and top-drawer storytelling.  

What’s On London interviewed Stade before his recent Leicester Square Theatre show and can confirm he’s got plenty of tales to tell: whether it’s getting innocently arrested for affray, planning a celebrity-filled hot tub or accidentally moving to Edinburgh, all are narrated with the excitement and eloquence of an exceptionally erudite alcoholic.  In a good way.  Our advice: if you’re lucky enough to be at Glastonbury on Saturday, make time to see him.    

Some people you come across in life are just plain infectious and – if he has one – this is Tom Stade’s secret.  It’s clear from the word ‘go’ when I ask him how things are.  “Always fabulous, man!” he beams.  “It’s a curse.  I’ve learned to play the game of humanity really well and don’t take anything too seriously.”  A siren sounds in the background.  “Oh, no!  They’re coming to get me, man.  Wait there!”  I wait.  And laugh.

I’m not alone.  Within minutes of taking to the stage at Leicester Square Theatre, the audience laps up his every word; not waiting for a punchline, just enjoying the unpredictable journey.  Many comedians work at making their acts appear off-the-cuff, but Stade’s the real deal.  “I hate comedy being all too prepared,” he says.  “I enjoy risk so much more than safety, because there’s something about the human soul that loves adventure.  Embracing the unknown helps keep things fresh.”

Youre-Welcome-Poster-JpegThis spontaneity extends to his tour titles.  For example, the current show, You’re Welcome!, must presumably have a story behind it?  “Nah, man.  I just like catchy names.  I’m like an Eckhart Tolle [Canadian-based author of The Power of Now] kinda guy … he called one seminar: Well, I Had To Call It Something.  If I had my way, I’d just call the show Come On Down and See Tom Stade Make You Laugh.”

Although the tour’s title may lack meaning, the content doesn’t, even if it sometimes veers into whimsy (such as when Stade speculates on the “inevitable” Glastonbury hot tub session he’ll share with Lionel Ritchie, Kanye West and the Dalai Lama this weekend).

‘British’ Columbian

This tour centres on how he’s lost his culture and gained another since reaching these shores 15 years ago – a different tone to past shows fondly poking fun at British ways.

“The fact is I can’t see anything British anymore because I’ve become British, so I have to make fun of those stupid Canadians!” Stade laughs.

“Whenever a friend comes over from Canada, it’s like walking around with a child, they’re so in awe.  I was the same: not so much a fish out of water, as a fish saying: “What the f*ck is going on?”  I’ve mostly lost that.”

Stade describes himself as “a wide-eyed boy from the backwaters of British Columbia”, but the 45-year-old has lost his naivety.  Gone are the days he got set upon and arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time; although there’s still some devil in him, this family man is now more likely to be found on his sofa watching reruns of Cash In The Attic (not, he insists, Due South).

Rolling Stone

How did Stade end up here?  “Like everything in my life, it was a series of accidents,” he explains.  “I was doing comedy in Canada and came over here for a week, because my lil’ gal [his wife, Trudy] is English.  I did a couple of shows and when I got home I had emails for a whole bunch of gigs in the UK.  We decided to come over for six months and give it a shot.  The next thing you know … boom, I’m a citizen!”

And where did he choose to settle down?  Wolverhampton, of course.  “Well, you’ve gotta because you’re broke!  You can’t afford London when you come in here.  London doesn’t need to worry about people coming in from foreign lands, because they’ll go where I went: Wolverhampton!  But I loved that it was proper English … and cheap.”  The Midlands provided him with a central base from where to hit the national comedy circuit tirelessly.  “What can I say?  I’m a work horse … I just love performing.  As long as people are wanting me, I’m having a good time, man.”

After gaining a following, Stade decided to sell his wares at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009 and – again – fate played a hand.  “My digs fell through at the last moment and the only place we could get had a six-month lease.  So we had to stay a while.”  That was seven years ago and the Stades (Tom, Trudy, Mason and Kira) remain happily based in Auld Reekie.  “It turned out for the best, because I love Edinburgh [still pronounced “Edin-burrow”].  It’s  handy for the Fringe and easier to get stage time there than in London.  So I can work on my craft and bring down a polished show,” he grins.

Sadly for Fringe-goers, Stade is foregoing his annual appearance this August in favour of some R&R.  “I’ve toured solidly for five years, so I’m gonna play music festivals this year instead – take my gal and have some fun.  Give people a year to miss me!”

Creative Juices

He also expects a calmer autumn to help his deep pool of creative juices to flow.  These were evident in M.U.F.F., an independent sitcom Stade created with fellow comedian Daniel Sloss.  The ‘out-there’ comedy concerns a corrupt, dystopian and unaccountable TV company.  Unsurprisingly, given its subject matter, funding was crowd-sourced thanks to an amusing website candidly detailing the necessary overheads (including catering, cocaine and constructing a dildo throne).

Stade was delighted to hear I’d seen the series and waxed lyrical about the experience.  “The first episode is one of the most creative things I’ve done.  It was one of my favourite projects, dude, because there was no reason to do it: to make art for art’s sake.  Some people were horrified by it, but it says a lot about this entertainment business.  You come into it innocently, but you don’t know the wolf you’re taking on.  The wolf always wins, man,” he adds.

He’s experienced his fair share of ‘the wolf’, most significantly in the fall-out from the critically-panned Frankie Boyle platform, Tramadol Nights, which Stade co-wrote.  Perhaps because of this, TV is not the ‘be all and end all’ for him.

“Shooting M.U.F.F. was fun but I don’t wanna say: “I wanna act again.  I wanna write again”.  I’d like to be a great comedian.  If other projects come along, I’ll decide on the day.  I’m quite a private person: I love my family to pieces and I’m not looking for fame.  I’d like to be known for what I do, not everything I do!”

So he will return to stand-up next year?  “Oh, yeah.  I’m gonna take this until it ends,” he smiles.  “Because we all know it ends, right?  So you might as well enjoy it while it’s smack bang in front of your face.”

Tom Stade is performing on Glastonbury’s Cabaret stage on Saturday 25th June.  For details of his other live appearances, check out Tom’s official website here.  What’s On London wishes him all the best for the rest of the tour and looks forward to catching him at Hemel Hempstead in September.

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