Interview | Tom Stade – like Mel Gibson, but without the racism

Tom’s just woken up. With a thick crackle coating a voice like treacle, he giggles incessantly: “We’ve missed our car appointment. My wife had to bring her truck in at 11”. You would be forgiven for thinking his wife is in the freight business, but this is probably attributed to his Canadian choice of words, having moved to Edinburgh 10 years ago to pursue his career in stand up comedy.

Aside from the stereotypical delicacies of maple syrup and sub-zero weather conditions, what are the biggest differences between Canada and the UK? “God darn it Ben! There are just too many to tell you the truth.” After a few moments of thought he strikes gold. “The buses have got two floors on them. That’s really weird”, he muses. “And the cabs here have a real nice 100-degree turning radius. It’s crazy out there!”

Even British niceties remain an oddity, forcing him to reconcile with his adopted nation. “I definitely don’t feel Canadian anymore”, he confesses. “When you’re away from your country for such a long time, you start saying things like ‘sordid’ and ‘cheers’. The only time you say cheers in Canada is when you’re toasting somebody. When you say ‘cheers’, Canadians are like, ‘I don’t have a drink? Who’s this guy, is he loaded?”

Two weeks before his 19th birthday, Tom started performing professionally on the Canadian comedy circuit. Was it difficult to begin with? “Yeah, of course it was man. Anytime you start out anything it’s hard, because you think you deserve more than you actually get.” Despite having performed at seven Comedy Store gigs and many others, including ‘The World Stands Up’ (“nobody even remembers that one” he quips), his recent appearances on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Road Show and Live at the Apollo have launched him into the public’s comic consciousness.

Surely his venture on Mock the Week in 2005 qualified him for his British TV break? “I don’t think so man, I don’t think Mock of the Week [sic] does a lot of things for people. I mean, it’s a nice thing to put on a poster but to me, the Mock of the Week’s and all that stuff are really about the regulars, because they are in your living room everyday and I’ve only done it once. It may be good for the next two or three days you were on it, but then the next guy comes around and he’s really funny. We live in a sound bite culture where they’ll go ‘Tom who?’”

Although having already performed in Leeds before, the last leg of his ‘Totally Rocks’ tour marks Tom’s first visit to The Library pub. “Some venues are the first time we are going there with the show and some are just because there were so many people that couldn’t get tickets, so we are actually going back again for those guys.” He breaks into a quiet hysteria of inhaled sniggers. “I’m that kind of guy! I will leave no man behind. Like Mel Gibson, but without the racism.”

Ensuring there are enough gigs for all of his fans is just one of the ways he gives something back. He also sets aside time after each show to talk with them. “Anybody who comes to see me, I’ll go to see them” he beams. “I was doing it ever since my dearly departed father came to one of my shows when I was starting out. I was hiding in the green room after a show, waiting for everyone to leave. He said ‘what the f**k are you doing back here?’ Then he put an analogy to me that changed everything I did. ‘Tom, put it this way: if you went to a Pearl Jam concert and you got to meet Eddie Vedder after, tell him something that you wanted to say, maybe get a picture with him wouldn’t that make your night so much better?’ I thought to myself ‘Oh my god, what the f**k am I doing in this green room?’ So now I’ll just walk right off stage to the bar and start having a drink with people.”

The temptation to be around someone as hilarious, glowing and down to brass tacks as Tom Stade ought to be reason enough to take a break from those essay deadlines. Just don’t say ‘cheers’ unless you’re buying.

Tom Stade continues his UK tour at The Library Pub, October 9 & 16 at 8pm. Tickets priced at £14.

Ben Meagher

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