Reviewed by Sam Lloyd
In accordance with its supreme popularity rise over the last 10 years or so, stand-up comedy has arguably become bland. Everyone can probably recite a thoroughly planned-out routine from their favourite comedian that they’ve seen on TV. This is exactly what stand-up has become to many comics and comedy fans: a recital. Its newfound exposure has perhaps meant that gags and anecdotes are precisely prepared for television, which in turn creates a rift between the stand-up experience available on our screens, and the experience we feel at an intimate event.
Conscious and eager to bridge this void is Canadian power-house Tom Stade, who in spite of a vast wealth of experience and numerous prestigious appearances on the BBC and beyond, performed at the small but stupendous The Glee Club in Cardiff Bay. Having packed out the room with eager fans of stand-up, it was clear from the off that this sort of environment felt like home.
Support came from John Scott, a comic from Edinburgh who warmed up the crowd brilliantly, exuding the charm of a seasoned MC. He assertively got giggles from his mix of light-hearted stories and dark but razor-sharp mis-directions; John Scott was a jack-of-all-trades comic who mastered pleasing everyone in the room.
As Tom Stade made his entry, he raised his arms to soak up the wild applause that was delivered by the Cardiff audience, in certain anticipation of the rollercoaster that was to come. Stade certainly lived up to all expectations. Whilst demonstrating careful craft of his stories, choosing exactly the right words to captivate the audience, the performance remained unhinged throughout.
Stade was reluctant to ignore the audience, which is one of the easiest mistakes for a comedian to make; every word was delivered as if he was a friend. Laughter was even more abundant than the interactions, as Tom delivered an assertive lesson in how to not just do comedy, but how to be a comedian.