The Assembly Rooms The Very Best of the Fest: Fringe Review

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Less Than the Sum of Their Parts

3/5

Despite claiming to encapsulate the very finest entertainment at the Fringe, this show is only average at best. Whilst you might expect an evening of variety delivered by the Festival’s best acts, in reality you get a selection of fine performers delivering material largely centred around sex gags.

Although a bit of coarse sexual referencing doesn’t go amiss in stand-up, when it becomes the theme for a variety show it becomes dull rather quickly. The fact that each act went on lengthy digressions into this territory was somewhat frustrating. Late night comedy is supposed to be racy, but the lack of intimacy at the Assembly Rooms’ Ballroom made this difficult to pull off. Heckles came across as awkward, stilting the acts and slowing the overall pace of the show. However, once this was out of the way, there were moments of very good comedy.

Compered by the Scottish icon Fred MacAulay, he aptly introduced each act and got the audience into a jovial mood. The comedians on this occasion included Richard Herring, Tom Stade, Martin Mor and Phil Nichol. Though they all seemed to spend a considerable length of time divulging the ins-and-outs of sex in lurid detail, it was only once they had moved on to their own, more individual material that the night was able to really get going.

A highly energetic set from Canadian comic Phil Nichol acted as a crescendo to the evening, performing a rendition of the much loved classic Eskimo by his old band Corky and the Juice Pigs. With the audience in stitches, it acted as a mask to what was an otherwise mediocre evening.

Taken from Broadway Baby, published Aug 2012.

Tom Stade Live Review

2/5

The Canadian born “maple licking seal killer” is a comedian whose cheekiness and laid-back delivery make him a likeable man, but one whose comedy ultimately falls short of the mark.

Unbothered about his self-confessed love of alcohol and haggard voice as a result of a supposed 20-year pot addiction, the everlasting teen warms to the audience by interacting with a sort of colloquialism that gives the impression he is everyone’s best friend.

Stade bases his routine on what he’s fed by the crowd and a fabricated history he shares with a person in the front row he names ‘Jimmy’. He also recounts stories of fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, struggling with a massive drug addiction and buying meat out of a van in Wolverhampton.

Whilst Stade is very easy to listen to and offers moments of very funny comedy, his lack of structure combined with an overwhelming feeling of trying to get laughs only through shocking material makes him difficult to truly enjoy.

Perhaps it is due to his co-writing of Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights that his comedy has taken on a very harsh nature. Nevertheless, it seems little favour can be found in a man who claims charity can be achieved through the exploitation of others’ misfortunes as it creates “awareness” of their adversities.

The self-assuredness at which he delivers his anecdotes, at times even waiting for applause, creates an awkwardness which detracts from his moments that do shine.

While it would be unfair to claim that Stade’s performance offered nothing, it seems reasonable to say that his closing sentiment aptly iterates the general consensus of the show: “I did the best I could, seeing what I was given”.

Taken from The Journal, published Wed Feb 23rd 2011.