UK’s rock ’n’ roll comedian Tom Stade on performing in the UAE and where he sees himself in five years

Ahead of his shows in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the Canadian comic tells us about the TV routine that propelled him into the big time and why he is always happy to perform in the UAE.
Tom Stade first performed in the UAE 10 years ago. He has appeared on popular shows in the UK, including Live at the Apollo and The John Bishop Show. Courtesy Trudy Stade
Tom Stade first performed in the UAE 10 years ago. He has appeared on popular shows in the UK, including Live at the Apollo and The John Bishop Show. Courtesy Trudy Stade

Candid Canadian comic Tom Stade’s career really took off when his “meat-van guy” routine – about a guy selling meat from a van in small-town England – became a viral hit in 2011.

Since then, the United Kingdom-based Stade has earned a reputation as a hard-living maverick with a blinding observational streak and unapologetic autobiographical approach.

The outspoken orator has been invited to appear on all of the country’s most notable stand-up TV shows – including Live at the Apollo, The John Bishop Show, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Lee Mack’s All Star Cast – and was a co-writer and co-star of Scottish comedian Frankie Boyle’s 2010 TV sketch show, Tramadol Nights.

As a long-term resident of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he lives with his wife and two children, Stade has been a regular performer at the city’s career-making festival. He is touring the UK with his acclaimed You’re Welcome tour, which will soon be immortalised on his second stand-up DVD.

We caught up with him for a chat ahead of performances with The Laughter Factory in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the coming week.

You have been dubbed “the rock ’n’ roll comedian”. How do you feel about that?

I’ve been named a lot of things – it all depends on the day and who saw what show. And then we give it to PR people to spin it ... I just worry about the jokes, then the agents and whoever else is in charge of my life takes over. It’s part of the biz. The reason is, I riff off my own jokes – people never see the same show twice.

You are well regarded by your peers. Where do you stand on the comedy ladder right now?

From where I was, I’m definitely pretty high up there. Let’s just say I can fill out theatres in my own name – I can walk into towns and anywhere from 300 to 1,000 people will show up. That’s where I am. This level is nice to be at – my dad would say: “Tom, you’re making more than a decent living” – and sometimes going too big isn’t exactly the right thing to do. Of course if it happened I would take it – but I’m definitely happy where I am at right now.

Do you think you’d be good at that kind of superstar life?

That’s a tough question. I’ve got a buddy in Snow Patrol – I don’t mean to name drop, but the fun thing is that Snow Patrol is famous – the people in it, aren’t. So he gets all the perks of being a rock star, and is still able to go into a pub without anybody freaking out. I think as a comedian, that’s the level I’m at right now.

Could you have imagined that five years ago?

No. I had a hit song, in comedic terms. It was just another show, I did a joke about a meat van and it just blew up and resonated with a whole bunch of people – and all of a sudden we’ve gone from circuit comic to theatre comic.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Retired, in a cabin, hanging out with my lovely wife Trudy. That’s where I want to see myself ... if I get to look at [her] beautiful smile until the day I die.

How sweet.

Damn straight. It’s about ditching your personality and screening another – don’t ever bring your own personality into a relationship, it never works.

For the first time since 2011, this year you skipped the Edinburgh Festival, yet you’re doing The Laughter Factory.

The first time I went out [to the UAE] was 10 years ago, and I keep going back there – it’s not a big moneymaker for me, and it’s actually kind of dangerous, to tell you the truth, but I go down there because these guys work really hard at putting on these show. When I first started out, they helped me by giving me gigs, so now I’m in a position to help them by going out there as a higher-profile comedian. And plus, there’s a lot of cool people there – these are expats man, these guys are more relaxed than actual English people. It’s my comedy vacation – if this was a game show, this is how it would sound: “Alright, you win an all expenses-paid trip to Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, and we’re going to give you some spending money, put you up in the nicest hotels – what do you say to that Tom?.” Most people would freak out.

• Tom Stade is on tour with The Laughter Factory – also starring Justin Moorhouse and Ian Coppinger – at Park Rotana Abu Dhabi on Wednesday, September 14, and at various locations in Dubai on September 15, 16, 21 and 22. For full details, visit Tickets start at Dh140

Published: September 12, 2016 04:00 AM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one