The meat van man is coming to town: Tom Stade talks ahead of Shrewsbury show
Bilston was the making of him. No, really, it was.
Tom Stade was a relative unknown when he rocked up in the Black Country, hoping to establish himself as a stand-up. Remarkably, it worked. And all because of Bilston Market.
That’s where Stade used to watch, incredulously, as the meat van man sold bags of bacon, beef and lord knows what else for about 50p. And he recreated what he’d seen during a TV appearance, making himself an overnight star in the process.
“I love Wolverhampton,” he says. And there’s irony and an absence of irony in the remark. “I had a ball when I lived there. If I hadn’t lived in the midlands and got a flavour of how salt of the earth the British people are, I’d have never written the meat van jokes. Then I’d never have never done that on Michael McIntyre and been seen by millions. Without Meat Van Man, I’d have been obscure. That meat van joke was like a hit song. It was like a number one hit song. There are millions of people who know that joke. From that they come to see me. So I can’t thank Wolverhampton enough. The people there are too cool. They are talking about doing a gig in Bilston Town Hall for me. We’re going to entertain the gypsies and tinkers.”
Stade is as funny in interview as he is on the stage. He’ll be back in the region on June 2 when he brings his new show, I Swear To, to Theatre Severn, in Shrewsbury.
“You can expect pure hilarity. It’s what I do. It’s my thing. Whatever material you give me I will make it funny. This tour is pretty much a continuation of the last tour, where I was exploring how a man of my age – 48 – who is living in the year 2019 feels as though he’s just gone back to the future and everything’s weird. Most guys my age are finding it hard to agree with the new ideas that are out there.
“The world always changes. Right now, it’s that 20-year change thing, like it’s on some sort of cycle. It changes every 20 years. I’m watching the attitudes change again and what we’re doing is trying to find out who can move with the times and who wants to stay still and get left behind.
“When we’re talking about things like homophobia and all of that sort of stuff, we see how much we’ve progressed. For the younger generation, same-sex is all acceptable as it should be. I’m even from that generation where it should be. But you go to a 60-year-old and it’s weird because it’s not their thing. So I’ve been laughing at even the word homophobia because it sounds like a real disease, that you can diagnose. Even if it was a real thing – and it’s not – you would just freeze like it’s a spider. Urgh. Homophobia. Put a glass over him.”
Stade is a rock’n’roll comic who stays in the moment. For his shows, he’ll write 45 minutes of material but then leave 15 minutes to riff and flow with the audience. “The show is kinda the same but it’s also different. It depends on who I’m talking to. I love the British, even though they don’t believe me. And my comedy is just like having a conversation. I like to leave a lot of room for thoughts to grow. I never know what an old guy or a young guy is going to say. We can riff with ideas wherever I go. I don’t like to be polished. I want the audience to be part of it.”
Stade was born in Canada and was encouraged to move from his hometown of Vancouver to the UK in 2001 by his friend and fellow comedian, Craig Campbell.
He has a distinctive “drunken Canadian” accent and is known for his appearances at the Edinburgh Festival, as well as appearing on British TV shows such as Live at the Apollo, The Comedy Store, The Live Floor Show, Stand Up for the Week, and The World Stands Up.
He moved to Wolverhampton because London was too expensive, then moved to Edinburgh because he loved that city’s Fringe Festival. His shows are all about opinions and observations.
“My opinions are not true. You know, we’ve lost that in comedy. Everybody is trying to please everybody. Nobody wants any controversy because they don’t want to lose. I guess that’s where I’m different. What you gonna take from me? I have nothing to take.”