From the moment Tom Stade walked on stage, it was obvious we were in for some anarchy. He dropped the f bomb twice in only ten words. He insulted the venue. He used the C Word. And we were eating out of his hand.
Tom’s style is less ‘slick comedian’, more ‘waffling drunk in residence'; but this is a very natural and well-polished persona. His somewhat slurred Canadian drawl alone invites laughter. Both self-deprecating and supremely arrogant; you can't help but warm to him, yet simultaneously be somewhat appalled at what leaves his mouth.
The show was not sold out, which was a crying shame, because Tom deserves to be playing to much larger audiences. However, you couldn’t tell from the roars of laughter and thunderous applause that filled this rather shabby and small bar on the Cowley Road.
Tom managed to segue seamlessly from his ‘near death experience’ to the vending machines found in service station toilets (and the bizarre contents therein), to car insurance, all whilst insulting the audience; I don’t think there was one person in attendance who didn’t (somewhat perversely) hope he would catch their eye and start laying into them. He managed to pry into, and draw out, the deepest privacy of those he engaged, inviting confidences in a room full of strangers.
It felt as though nothing was off limits. It’s a strange and foreign sensation to laugh about something as evil as cancer, but the crowd roared with laughter as he described his father’s death, and how his grandmother is also succumbing to the disease. Pulling off something like that is the mark of a true comic.
It is worth mentioning that warming up for Tom was local chap Ed Patrick, who seemed very nervous, playing to his home town. He didn’t seem like a natural opener for Stade, as his routine was not nearly as foul nor as confident. But we all laughed in the right places; we look after our own.
It is strange to say but I left the gig feeling strangely uplifted. Stade finished with a message of acceptance of everyone who is different to him; a somewhat unlikely champion of LGBTQ + rights. He started off as a Bill Hicks, but, rather bizarrely, finished as a suggestion of Russell Howard.
I thoroughly recommend seeing Tom Stade if you want a night of anarchy and real belly laughs, all while feeling a bit naughty.