Tom Stade’s latest show is aptly named. He does swear. A lot. We’d be proud to welcome the Canadian as an honorary Scotsman for the duration of the Fringe, given his propensity for inserting a profanity as a substitute for taking a breath between sentences. How he doesn’t turn blue and drop to the ground by the halfway point is a mystery. There may perhaps be a risk of this brand of verbal punctuation limiting his audience, but given he’s packed out the debating hall at the Gilded Balloon, there aren’t many prudes in attendance.
There’s little in the way of an overarching theme to Stade’s performance beyond a curiosity about how different generations may perceive the subjects he holds forth on. He immediately sets about finding a Millennial, a Gen X-er, and a Baby Boomer, and returns to them for occasional input. As audience interaction goes it’s clever, inclusive and unforced. Topics like social media and religion are addressed, puzzled over in that curiously laid-back stoned-Brian-Blessed-in-Double-Denim voice of his (honestly, it’s extraordinary!), thrown towards his correspondents for the evening and then summarily dismissed.
You wish that he would deal more with controversial material as he has a real easy knack for it. His delivery on his material about Saudi Arabia, given the precarious nature of it, almost precludes any possibility of offence at all. It’s really incisive, unflinching and pointed. Yet, at the merest hint of a gasp from the crowd, he simply shrugs, grins, fires some rock star trigger fingers, and carries on with another topic; satisfied that his point his made, but almost dismissive. He should, let us be completely honest, be fucking unbearable. There’s arrogance there for certain, but tempered with a slightly baffled air. He’s too self-deprecatory for his stage persona to come across as anything more egregious than an affable dickhead.
It’s all hugely entertaining, if slightly unfocused. A little more structure would be appreciated, and when he concludes suddenly on a slightly throwaway line it’s a real surprise. Granted, an hour has rocketed past in fine style, and that’s hardly surprising given Stade’s rough diamond charisma, but there’s no real build up or climax. But does a show seemingly this loose and effortless really need one? Noone seems disappointed, and having given it more thought, it’s quite refreshing not to have a show neatly tied up with a, “here’s what we’ve learned” bow on it. Let’s just let Tom keep being Tom.