Canadians are a famously polite people, and comedian Tom Stade is no exception. So when he’s gleefully ragging the British about their way of life in his stage act, they see the funny side and no-one objects.
As an outsider looking in, the expat from British Columbia’s mountain country finds the funny in everyday stuff that we Brits take for granted as normal.
Everything from tracksuits in Wolverhampton to meat sale vans and the British obsession with cheap ‘bargains’ – along with acerbic observations on drink, drugs, marriage and kids – has been grist to his mill.
So when he admits he knows nothing about Colne, where he is appearing at The Muni in October, we inform him it’s the birthplace of Wallace Hartley, bandmaster of the ill-fated Titanic.
“I actually know something about that,” he replies. “He kept the orchestra playing as the ship went down. You know why? He didn’t want to go back to Colne.”
Told that he may get lynched if he cracks that one in Colne, he says: “If someone from Colne said that, they would get lynched. If somebody from out of town says it, people might see the funny side.”
Tom fell in love with a comedy as a child listening to his dad’s classic comedy long-playing records by the likes of Bob Newhart and Lily Tomalin. Now in his mid-40s, he lives in Edinburgh with his wife Trudy and two children and has been happy to make Britain his home, as a regular at Edinburgh Festival, and on TV programmes including Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week, The Comedy Store, the John Bishop Show and Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights.
He says it was ‘fate and pure accident’ that brought him across the Atlantic some 14 years ago, when a friend who was working in Britain invited him to come over. “Me and my gal said we’d come over here for six months and see what’s happening and that six months turned into umpteen years. I fell in love with England. I fell in love with their humour, with the people, with the fact that it’s not so phoney. I fell in love with the fact that you can be a comedian over here and they respect that art form.
Tom’s first home in Britain was in Wolverhampton. He observed: “Everyone was wearing a tracksuit. I thought ‘God, what a healthy town this must be!’” The good folk of Wolverhampton took the joke in good humour, typical of the British ability to laugh at ourselves.
“British people fight off political correctness like they’re swatting flies that are coming at them. They don’t take themselves too seriously.
“I think because Britain is pretty much the birthplace of entertainment, they’ve seen everything, from William Shakespeare, to Charlie Chaplin, to Laurel and Hardy, all these guys that have come from here. They understand comedy probably more than anyone else does in the world.”
Tom’s current tour, politely titled You’re Welcome, is all new material. “I always write a completely new show, and the way I do it, it grows and grows and grows.
So from what it was where it started in Edinburgh last year to what it is now is a completely different beast. I just find it interesting as you move along to sit down and write a whole new hour. That’s what people want. They don’t want to go there and hear a joke they’ve heard last year, and neither do I.”