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Review: Tom Stade at Cambridge Junction

Unsurprisingly, it’s very often the case that stand-up comedians are much funnier live on stage than they are on TV.

I definitely found this to be true with Romesh Ranganathan and John Bishop, but perhaps never more so than with seasoned Canadian comic Tom Stade.

When I saw the 53-year-old force of nature, who has lived in the UK for more than 20 years, on Live at the Apollo, for example, I thought he was good but not quite ‘Premier League’ standard. How wrong was I.

Tom Stade
Tom Stade

Coming out to a rapturous reception at a criminally-not-sold-out Junction J2 on Thursday, 25 January, Tom, wearing an ‘I love Benidorm T-shirt’, immediately let fly with the jokes in his inimitable, hilarious and borderline confrontational style and barely let up for the next hour.

“I’ve just come back from Spain, can you guess which part?” he asked.

It’s a well-worn theme, particularly with comedians over 40, that they compare the often baffling aspects of the modern world with the way things were in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

But to my mind, no-one, with the possible exception of Peter Kay (though his style is very different), has done this better – and with more laugh-out-loud moments – than Tom Stade.

Singling out three audience members – a 66-year-old man, a 58-year-old woman and a 24-year-old woman – he directed comments and questions to them about “your world” and “our world” with hysterical results that at times left me gasping for breath.

I wouldn’t be able to repeat a lot of what he said here (for reasons of forgetfulness and content) but needless to say, his acute and ‘full-on’ observations – a funny bit about how he dealt with a complaint he received on Facebook following a joke he’d made comes to mind – tended to be met with raucous, and in many cases uncontrollable, laughter.

“Do you know what a safe space is, Dave?” He asked the man at one point. “No,” came the reply. “Well it’s not here.”

On the way out, I overheard someone say that if Tom, whom The List called the “master of hardcore comedy” (Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown fans might have something to say about that!) had been English, the show wouldn’t have been as funny.

I think I would have to agree as his broad accent and in-you-face style added an extra dimension to his joke-telling (after all, it’s the way you tell ‘em as someone once said) – and from a personal point of view, I hadn’t laughed so hard at a comedy gig since I saw Frankie Boyle last year at the Corn Exchange.

For more on Tom Stade, visit tomstade.com.

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