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The Stand Comedy Club II / 16 North St Andrew Street / Edinburgh.

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      10.08.2007 11:40
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      3rd to 26th August (not 13th).

      Free-thinking Canadian comic Tom Stade exposes the bare bones of his profession in this latest stand-up show, which makes him seem subversive and post-modern while also effectively allowing him to use a script as part of the show. Clever! Based in the second, smaller venue of the Stand in central Edinburgh, ‘Setlist’ features a microphone, a table of beers, a white board of written phrases as ‘tags’ and a red marker pen, and sees Tom move through a broad range of contestable topics from drugs to the Third World, attempting to craft links between the individual pieces of material as he goes, with the help of the audience, and to develop each one into a better joke based on their responses.

      I’m easily won over by a comedian being deconstructive, and I enjoyed the concept of the board throughout, even though, by its very nature, much of the material was abrupt and went nowhere past a simple punchline. It’s interesting to see all comedy shows developing at the Fringe, particularly in the first couple of weeks before most of the visitors arrive at the end, and it’s clear that Tom is having fun with this idea rather than using it to hide a lack of preparation, as the many jokes have already been ingrained into his head in their most basic form. The tiny audience acts as a perfect sounding board for his rants and ideas, occasionally offering an alternative punchline if they’re sharp enough, or suggesting a link that Tom marks in red pen for later consideration, and the late night, alcohol-drenched venue grants the comedian a license to be more offensive than the bigger name acts in grander places.

      This was the most shocking thing from my perspective, becoming so used to the whimsical real-life monologues and silly rants of the Pleasance and the Underbelly that it was something of a departure to hear a man joking about selling his child afflicted with Down’s Syndrome. Even his excessive use of the F-word was jarring at the onset, becoming less noticeable as the show continued and it either became less prevalent or faded into white noise through over-use. Tom claims to be a man of ‘free speech,’ merely speaking his mind without regard for political correctness, and although this will cost him some credibility with some, the majority of the material is fairly straightforward. It’s also amusing to see the performer become more clearly inebriated as the show carries on, all the time managing to stick to the rigid concept of the board, but allowing for deviation around the tags when requested, some of which are accompanied by his guitar.

      Offensive material aside, Tom Stade is little different from the more underground American and Canadian comics that dominate stand-up sets on channels such as Paramount Comedy performing ten minutes of easy material, but this hour-long solo show proves that he has a lot of ability as well as a wealth of material, and seems to genuinely enjoy his work and crowd. It’s a show perfectly suited to the drunken late night audience of the Stand, and the sort of show that the Fringe festival is necessary for bringing over in such a capacity. ‘Setlist’ plays underground in the Stand II on North St. Andrew’s Street from 3rd to 26th August (not 13th) at 10.15pm, lasting one hour. Price is £8 (£7 concessions).

      Next review: Adam Bloom – ‘Look At Me, Anybody!’

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    • Product Details

      The King of laid-back, chilled out, smart and surprising comedy is throwing down the gauntlet to his audience. How does a comedian decide what goes in his setlist each night? How does he gauge what each audience can handle? How far can he take it? And is the audience gonna be brave enough? Tom takes us behind the curtain to look at how a joke is born, to find the root and conclusion to some of his most legendary, controversial material. Every night will be an unpredictable insight into the hilarious yet complex mind of a comedian, his jokebooks and his willingness to take the gag and the audience to places they've never been.