Leicester Comedy Festival review: Tom Stade at Just the Tonic at Hansom Hall

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By Aleksandra Brzezicka

Warning: Tom Stade’s show is not for children, the faint-hearted or easily insulted. Stay away for your own safety.

The man enters the room like a washed-up rock ‘n’ roll star would enter the hall of fame. Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Stade. Let’s get on with this already.

Stade starts off with an announcement. He’s 50 this month, so he can finally get a grasp of what it means to be old. Obviously, he chooses the oldest-looking lad in the audience to bond with over the young stuff they can’t do anymore.  Like showing off your penis in a public restroom for a quick mates-involving STD check. Or during kids’ parties. You may even end up making toilet plans for your bum on the road instead of checking out chicks on the way. Highway to hell, indeed.

Well, at least you were brought up tough, not like the spoiled brats of the new generation.  “Violence makes you learn,” says Tom. The teachers didn’t beat the crap out of you so you’re plainly dumb, probably don’t even drive and don’t worry about bills. You’ll just make a joint out of them. Yes, Tom, that’s what we all do.

Despite all the drama and squeezing the f word in every other sentence, Stade’s show was very informative and took us on an exclusive tour to the toilets and a vending machine shopping haul. Women learnt that in the gents you can buy paracetamol, condoms and, for only three pounds, a vibrating cock ring. Then in the women’s you can get paracetamol (for when your gal need to fake a headache), tampons, vibrating bullets and tests to check if your drink has been spiked. For some reason, the last one caused a wave of indecent laughter. Hilarious. Tom Stade, what a lad you are.

He also made a homage, of a kind, to “the greatest paedophile in the world, Michael Jackson.” If you’re forced to do it with your uncle, it’s a crime; if it’s MJ you’d get a career out of it. How perceptive.

Stade walks a thin line of daring dark humour and bad bad taste. That’s the most exciting element to his show. You never know what’s gonna hit you – a penis pun or satire on fake news – or if he’ll just shout at you.

He poses as a comedian who poses as a schmuck to manipulate the masses into laughter, this time at the ornate Hansom Hall – or this “piece of s**t room.” He doesn’t care about opinions, hates people and loves to swear. And that’s his charm.

Leicester Comedy Festival review: Laurel and Hardy Cabaret at the Guildhall

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Review by Sofia Luis-Hobbs

Laurel and Hardy are undoubtedly a classic comedy duo but they’re an acquired taste in this day and age.

And if I didn’t quite acquire it, it certainly wasn’t for want of trying. I grew up watching them on DVD with my dad. It wasn’t my cup of tea but I sat and watched nonetheless, as he was reduced to hysterics beside me.

It’s been years since I’ve seen any of their films, but when the chance presented itself to go and see a cabaret version of their act I couldn’t help but smile at the thought – not necessarily at the show but at the memories it sparked.

The show began with the immortal theme tune, triggering giggles around the room and I knew then that the next 120 minutes would be a trip down memory lane for everyone in there.

Well, pretty much everyone. The cabaret had drawn a mixed crowd to the Great Hall of the Guildhall, including several younger children and a toddler or two who cooed during some inopportune moments – but Tony Carpenter and Philip Hutchinson had it covered. Quick on their feet, they found ways to incorporate these noises off into their performance, particularly whenever Laurel needed a talking to – which, of course, was often.

The duo really are the full package when it comes to impersonating the iconic pair. Not only did they embody the characters perfectly, they bear an uncanny physical resemblance of the original Laurel and Hardy.

Carpenter, who plays Laurel, mimics the famous head wiggle, the outbursts of crying and sheer naivety throughout the performance to a tee. Hutchinson, as Hardy, gets to dominate, which of course brings with it the famous tie grab alongside a flustered laugh and pursed lips.

The cabaret includes an array of the duo’s classic sketches, from their earlier works to their final ones, as well as some sketches that were never released.

Performing famous routines from Swiss Miss, Men O’ War and Sons of the Desert, Carpenter and Hutchinson pull it out of the bag – and no, I’m not talking about the random things Carpenter seems to pull out of his bag to irritate his onstage partner.

Yet they also brought the act up to date, with a song performed to a photo of Susan Boyle. It was unconventional but a stroke of genius, alongside other tricks they had up their sleeves to get younger audiences involved.

Fun-filled and family friendly, the cabaret is a true homage to the duo, which Laurel and Hardy fans will be sure to adore.