Tom Stade makes two entrances to his show. In one, he struts onto the stage to the sound of pumping rock music mingled with applause and whoops, shrouded by dry ice and bright lights, his presence taking full ownership of every inch of this theatre. In the other, and undetected by almost all of the crowd, he slipped in to the auditorium through the main entrance along with the punters a few minutes before the start of the show, pint in hand.
Stade’s charming nonchalance as he made his way along the front row, casually greeting those he passed with a cool handshake and a laid back smile before disappearing through the curtain, is in total contrast to his rock-star arrival on stage. I've never seen Stade perform a gig that he didn't storm – even at tiny new material nights, trying out gags that never made it to the big gigs, he makes it all funny, works just as hard, and has the crowd in the palm of his hand.
Television audiences are increasingly becoming familiar with Stade, but there's a charisma about him that can only be fully absorbed when seen live. Stade is an observational comic, and in You're Welcome he airs his frustrations with Glastonbury festival, shopping, banal TV programmes, being Canadian and parenthood, amongst many other things. His themes may not be the most original out there, but his style and delivery certainly are. Taking the 'noticing stuff' (as he once described his job) one step further, he'll go on to invent related fantasy scenarios; these often actually highlight deeper points through satire, allowing him to take a closer look at various areas of society.
I laughed from beginning to very nearly the end: but unfortunately, I felt the very last section was disappointing. His choice of closing material in my opinion was tasteless, cheap humour, with some particularly misjudged jokes which were out of place after his otherwise warm and relatable act. He's better than this – and following a show jam-packed with big laughs, his last few gags were a poor choice.
The rest of the hour flew by, and I could have easily listened to Stade for at least another hour. One of his on-the-spot callbacks to an earlier conversation he'd had with an audience member had me laughing so hard that tears made my mascara run; his improvised comments are as much of a delight as his pre-prepared material.
Tom Stade is a very funny comedian and, despite my strong misgivings about the closing remarks, You're Welcome is as close to a guaranteed good night out as you can get.