Interview: Tom Stade

Tom Stade talks to The Tab’s MARK WINTERBURN about panel shows, the British public and offending your audience.

Cambridge Canada. Comedy Comedy Roadshow Live at The Apollo The Junction Tom Stade

Tom Stade is probably best known for his brash comedy style, appearances on Live at The Apollo and his ‘drunken Canadian’ accent (which he puts down to “twenty years of smoking dope”). This week, The Tab‘s Mark Winterburn caught up with him about panel shows, the British public and offending your audience…

You made your big break on the Comedy Roadshow. How important was that for you? Do you think it’s necessary to go on TV now to become a big name?

Well I never planned to be a big name. I’ve just kind of enjoyed doing it. There’s a couple of people who didn’t go on TV and ended up famous – like Ross Noble and Russell Peters. I think these days you do kind of need TV, but you know I’m not sure it’s the right kind of TV. I’ve realised comedians just get famous by doing talking head shows and stuff like that. So I don’t think they get known for their actual material, but just by being the guest on 8 Out of 10 Cats or something like that. They’ve just answered the questions they’re asked. So it’s not like Michael McIntyre’s Roadshow where they see what you really do. I do a few of those but I think they can be a double edged sword.

And what about the gigs that go wrong?

Oh I’ve loads of those. I mean, one time I did so good a girl liked me and married me. So that was a bad gig. (Laughs)

Is the Tom Stade on our screens the same Tom Stade you get live?

No its always different because, you know, it’s always cleaned up for TV. You know what I mean? You’re getting the polished turd. When you go to live comedy it’s a little rougher because there’s no censure. It’s funny because I’m really naughty and nice, you know. I can play both sides of the fence there. I can be really filthy but I can also be totally clean. I don’t ever put myself in any one camp.

That’s interesting because you’ve defended Frankie Boyle in the past, saying that the offence just lies with the audience. Do you think comedians can go too far?

Well where else are you gonna go to get your offence man? It’s not like you’re gonna go get it from an opera any more. It’s not like you’re gonna go, “Oh my God, did you see what Valliati wrote? It’s totally offensive, the way they dance just made me sick.” I don’t know. It all depends on the audience, what they can handle. Don’t offend for the sake of being offensive – but you’ve got to say things you wouldn’t say in a normal dinner conversation.

So, you’ve never been offended by what another comedian has said?

I’m never really offended by anything, especially not words. I mean, they’re just ideas, man. Even if they do go to the darker recesses of people’s minds, they’re still just ideas. I’m not that freaked out by them anymore. Nor should anyone else for that matter. They’re just words man, and everyone should be allowed to have these ideas, and we’ll let the audience decide what’s offensive and what’s not, but at least throw it out there and see.

So, your career started off in Canada. Do you have any observations about how British comedy compares to that over on the other side of the pond?

British comedy is open to anything. This is like the land of Shakespeare, it’s the land of  anything goes. It’s such a multicultural country, a real proper one, that’s scaled down into such a small area that I don’t think the Brits really can be properly offended. They’ve seen it all. That challenges you to say something you haven’t heard before.That’s a really good quality of this country. Whereas if you go the States you could say totally the wrong thing and somebody might take so much offence that they shoot you on the way home.

Finally, what advice would you give to any student who’s thinking about having a go at stand-up?

Enjoy what you do, that’s my advice man. It’ll shine through more on stage than what you write. That’s all.

Tom Stade will be performing at The Junction, Cambridge on 17 February.