Tom Stade does not like the word ‘lockdown’.
The renowned ‘rock’n’roll’ comedian cannot wait to finally return to the stage when he performs at Southport Comedy Festival this October.
The event takes place at Victoria Park, home of Southport Flower Show, between October 8th and 18th, in a huge marquee specially constructed for the occasion. Seats will be socially distanced; hand sanitisers will be available everywhere; details will be taken for Track and Trace.
It is a sign of where we are in the world right now after the coronavirus pandemic closed down much of the UK in March. But in a year which has seen live comedy sadly fall silent, Southport Comedy Festival will see Tom Stade join other huge names on the circuit such as Reginald D Hunter, Rich Hall, Jason Manford, Ed Byrne, Russell Kane, Jo Caulfield, Paul Sinha, Hal Cruttenden, and others bringing much-needed smiles back to people’s faces.
Tom said: “Lockdown is not a good word to use for me. It makes it sound like prison!
“The Government should have called it ‘home stay’ instead. People would have gone for that! ‘Can we have home stay’?
“But ‘lockdown’? It makes you want to ask ‘do I get half an hour of exercise in the prison yard’?”
The rules over social distancing mean capacity in the huge Southport Comedy Festival marquee, provided by Southport firm Elite Marquees, will have a maximum capacity of 300 people. Tickets for some shows have already sold out with people eager to enjoy a safe night out while having a laugh.
Tom said: “There is a lot of empathy going around, because people are hurting. But you still have to have a sense of humour!
“It’s 300 people in a tent! I am there, I will definitely be there! With my face mask, and with lots of Vitamin D!
“I have been planning this out with common sense. Wear your mask, wash your hands. It’s a virus, the damage it does is terrible. Just try and keep it away.
“We will get through all this.
“I have even started social distancing from my dog!
“I don’t understand the people who refuse to wear a mask or do social distancing. It’s not a freedom fight.
“If the Government tried to lock me down without a virus, then there would be trouble!
“But sadly people are contracting this virus, people are dying, and they are getting very sick. Some people are suffering long term effects.
“Nobody knew what it was at first. I thought we would maybe stay home for a month.
“It was like a bomb explosion. You put your head down, and then after a while you look up and try and see what is happening.”
Heading to Southport Comedy Festival this October will be a welcome return to some kind of normality.
Tom said: “To me, it’s just like any other gig. I have done other gigs in marquees before.
“But this is the only gig going now!
“If this is the only show in town, and if I don’t sell out, then that really is going to hurt!
“If we can do this, if we can make this happen, then it is absolutely great!
“I do believe people need a good laugh at the moment, and to be able to enjoy a good night out, safely.
“Southport and Liverpool audiences are great people, I always love performing gigs up there. I have loads of fans up in that part of the world. I hope they all turn up!”
Tom has become a firm Southport Comedy Festival favourite among fans locally after two sensational shows in the town at previous events.
He wowed fans at a sellout show at the Ramada Plaza Hotel (now Bliss Hotel) in 2012 before returning for another full house at The Bold Hotel in 2017.
He is delighted to make this October’s performance his hat-trick, but never could anyone have imagined the circumstances of the gig this year.
Tom said: “This is the thing about life. Nothing is a guarantee.
“If anything has proved that, it is this.”
It’s fair to say this year hasn’t gone the way everyone thought it would.
Earlier this year Tom had a full tour date booked at venues all around the UK. But then the coronavirus pandemic hit, and life for comedians and the events industry as a whole hasn’t been the same since.
After eight months away, this will be Tom’s comeback, as well as seeing the return to the stage for many of the other comedians appearing at this year’s Southport Comedy Festival.
He is now busy booking in dates in the hope of seeing a successful 2021 tour, starting in Edinburgh on January 13.
Tom said: “When we get to January we are going to do it. We will see what happens.
“If social distancing needs to be in place still then maybe we will do two shows in one night.
“Everything has taken a hit this year. A lot of comedians go from paycheck to paycheck. They desperately want to get back out on the road.”
For comedians, returning to the stage is more than just earning a wage. Making a room full of people roar with laughter is something they have really missed.
Tom said: “I love it. It is not a real job for me. It is a passion.”
The coronavirus lockdown has given him the rare opportunity to sit back and take stock.
He has been gigging since he was a teenager, often spending long periods of time away from his family.
The lockdown has gifted them the chance to spend some invaluable time together, while also allowing him the chance to review his material.
He said: “I will be honest. I have had the chance to sit back and enjoy it.
“I have been touring since I was 18. I have enjoyed the opportunity to spend a little more time with my family. If it wasn’t for the lockdown I wouldn’t have had the chance to really get to know them.
“You kind of know your children, when you drop them off at school in the mornings. But when you spend this amount of time together you really get to see them as they are.
“It adds to my armoury of humour! I didn’t realise my daughter was such a party queen!
“I have got two grown-up children, a young man, and a young woman, who are very creative people.
“My son is writing a book, my daughter is a dancer, and my wife is an interior designer.
“I am the least talented one in the family!”
He can’t wait to appear in Southport this October, although the material he was originally planning to use for his tour this year will now change drastically in light of recent events.
His audience is in line for a treat.
He said: “I haven’t done a show since March so even I don’t know what I am expecting!
“I am really going to see how I bounce back.
“I am desperately wanting to get back. One thing the Covid pandemic has done is it has shown me just how much a love doing what I do.
“When I am gigging every day, you know what works, and what is going to happen.
“Because I have been away for so long now, I have lots of new ideas. Plus, you get time to look back on what you are doing.
“My Grandma used to tell me to write something, put it in a desk and then come back a few days later and have another look at it. That is what has happened to me during the last few months!
“I want to get back on stage, but not exhaust myself completely like I used to.
“But I have really missed it. Any time you have something you love and it is taken away, you really miss it.
“Southport Comedy Festival 2020 has a great line-up. The bill is incredible.
“Reginald D Hunter, Jason Manford, Ed Byrne, there are lots of big names.
“And Tom Stade is there as well! Let’s not big everyone else up!
“I am really proud of Brendan Riley and Val Brady, the Southport Comedy Festival organisers, for making this incredible event happen.
“It is a great thing that this is taking place in Southport.
“They should really appreciate that they have people like that.
“I did the Festival last time and it was great. It was at The Bold Hotel, and I had a blast.
“I have a huge amount of respect for those two.”
Tom Stade: You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet appears at Southport Comedy Festival, sponsored by Anthony James Estate Agents, on Tuesday 13th October, 2020.
Tickets are £15 each. Doors open 7pm, show starts at 8pm.
Age Restriction: 18+.
For tickets please visit: southportcomedyfestival.com