Tom Stade: ‘Who does not want to destroy the mainstream?’

A pre-beard Tom Stade performing live in 2013
A pre-beard Tom Stade performing live in 2013

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Did I know I had an interview today?’ are Tom Stade’s first words when The Guide introduces itself on the phone.

In all fairness to the comic, the interview arrangement had been a bit ad-hoc. But when it’s explained that it’s regarding his headlining gig at Comedy All Stars in Horndean on June 12, he’s happy to oblige with a chat.

‘Oh, I never look that far ahead,’ he says with a laugh, before telling someone with him: ‘I’m doing something on June 12 apparently. I love it.

‘It sounds fun, I’ll be there.’

That’ll be reassuring to the organisers at least. Also on the bill are Adam Bloom and Felicity Ward, while reigning Guide Awards Best Comedian James Alderson hosts the evening.

Tom, who is originally from Vancouver in Canada, came over to the UK several years ago, following in the footsteps of his friend and fellow stand-up (and former Big Interview star) Craig Campbell. He had been a struggling actor until he saw Campbell perform in a bar and decided he would give stand-up a go himself. When Campbell came to the UK, he encouraged Stade to make the move as well.

“Offended” is a word that gets thrown around so much these days. You just didn’t like it. “Offended” means you’ve got this moral high ground and people love using this word, but it’s just a label for you not liking something

Tom Stade

‘I came over with my lovely gal, we decided to come over here for about six months and we said we’d give it about a year and we sort of never left because things were way better here than over in Canada.

‘There’s really only two markets in the world for comedy, one of those is in the United States, and one is in Britain.

‘I’ve always considered Canada to be a fantastic university for comedy – you can be there and learn your craft without anybody seeing you and it’s a fabulous way to become a road warrior.

‘As for saying you can make a living over there, unless you’re famous, if you’re just a jobbing dude, there’s only so many gigs you can do in Vancouver, whereas in London or New York you’ve got 80 gigs going on in a night.’

And he’s come to appreciate touring on the UK comedy circuit.

‘You can go from one gig to the next here on the train with a nice cup of tea thinking about your jokes, not wondering: “Should I drink and drive, seeing as I’ve got to go nine hours to get to my next gig?”’

Stade can be remarkably filthy and isn’t afraid to go near to the knuckle, but he’s also appeared on some of the biggest shows on TV. He did a slot on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, as well as Live at the Apollo, Ch4’s Comedy Gala and numerous others. He recently filmed a spot for John Bishop’s current Saturday night BBC1 show.

On his Twitter feed – where he styles himself as Commander Stade, with his followers being The Stadinese Army – he refers to it as infiltrating another ‘mainstream stronghold’.

‘All that social media stuff is fun,’ he says.

‘When I’m looking at that stuff I like to create a story. I know a lot of people use it to say witty things or something funny or whatever, but I find if you’re going to play some games, then you might as well make some teams and then you can be the leader of your team.

‘And it’s just fun saying you’re part of the Stadinese Army. And who doesn’t want to destroy the mainstream? Even though you eventually become the mainstream if you become too big.’

So do you compromise your act when you’re doing the TV stuff?

‘Of course you do. I’m not going to walk on and say (unprintable). Or “How about that (unprintable)?”

‘You know, of course you tone it down because that’s what TV is and you’re dealing with mass consumption. But when you come down to the live show, that’s when you’ll realise if you like me. Tom Stade headlines Comedy All Stars at Horndean Technology College on Friday, June 12, doors 7pm. Strictly over-18s only. Tickets are £10 advance, £15 on the door. Go to comedy-allstars.co.uk.

‘Trust me, there’s a lot of people that see you on TV and then they come down and say: “My God, he really does swear a lot!”’

While his humour can be on the abrasive side, Stade has no truck with those who get offended by his act.

‘“Offended” is a word that gets thrown around so much these days. You just didn’t like it. “Offended” means you’ve got this moral high ground and people love using this word, but it’s just a label for you not liking something, so I’m totally fine with that.

‘I went to a lot of things I didn’t like so I just left. It wasn’t that I was offended, it just wasn’t my bag.’

Tom has got first-hand experience of what it’s like to be at the centre of a media storm about people taking offence. He was a co-writer and co-star on controversy-magnet Frankie Boyle’s Channel4 show Tramadol Nights. Boyle was pilloried for a joke on the show about Katie Price’s disabled son Harvey.

But as Stade explains: ‘That’s the kind of humour Frankie does, and that’s one colour out of the comedy rainbow. A lot of people like that, like a lot of people like Michael McIntyre – they’re just two ends of the spectrum.

‘They’re part of this big thing called comedy. One doesn’t exist without the other, if you don’t have Michael McIntyre, you don’t have Frankie Boyle. There’s nothing to play off of each other.

‘You need each other, and it’s a fun little game and people like it. Don’t tell me you don’t love being offended – it gives you something to talk about.’

Stade has got plenty coming up to keep him busy though. He has his eighth show, You’re Welcome, at Edinburgh this summer and he’s in the throes of creating an online sitcom, M.U.F.F, with fellow comic Daniel Sloss. But when that will be released?

‘It’ll come soon – keep your eye on The Commander, he’ll tell you when.’

Tom Stade headlines Comedy All Stars at Horndean Technology College on Friday, June 12, doors 7pm. Strictly over-18s only. Tickets are £10 advance, £15 on the door. Go to comedy-allstars.co.uk.