Interview: Shane Todd on the Holylands, Inspirations and his Growing Success

Photo: Youtube/ Shane Todd
Photo: Youtube/ Shane Todd

Hannah Hughes, Contributor

County Down born comedian Shane Todd discusses his upcoming gig in the Mandela hall, backlash and nights spent with a dyson in the holy lands.

What was the catalyst in your life that made you want to enter into the world of comedy?

It was just a love of stand up. From a very young age I couldn’t get through enough VHS tapes of a lot of different comedians. It was a case of ‘I wonder what that would be like’. More intrigue than a feeling of something I felt I had to do.

You have many different characters but an unchallenged hero of students is Mike McGoldrick a character many of whom feel they can relate to. Is he based on individual you know or from experiences you have had?

Subconsciously it probably is based on one or two people but it’s probably a mix of a load of eccentric characters I’ve met. I used to be a dishwasher in the yacht club at Cultra, that’s when I really noticed how much these people live in a totally different world. I know of a guy who has told some girls that I have based the character on him. I have no idea why that would be a good thing!

Who have been your comedic inspirations?

Kevin McAleer, Richard Pryor, Steve Coogan, Larry David & Ricky Gervais. I got to gig with Kevin earlier in the year which was an incredible experience, and he was also a really nice guy too.

What life lessons have being a comedian taught you?
What a deep question! Get used to hearing people say “you’ll probably put this in your act”- when they are telling you the most niche stories that would in no way be funny to an audience. I suppose now though I am talking about it so that has completely disproved my point.

Do you prefer stand-up or scripted characters?
Stand up every time. The characters are great fun but I only really started doing them as a way to get people to the live stand up shows. I enjoy making the videos and the reaction has been great, but I’ll look forward to my next stand up gig more than my next video. Obviously I wouldn’t do the videos if I didn’t enjoy them though!

What is different about doing gigs In Northern Ireland and your recent gigs in Edinburgh?
Gigging at home gives you more a safety blanket. More people will know some of the work I’ve done when I do gigs at home, so they’ll be more likely give you more time to find your stride. When most of the audience doesn’t know you you have to be funnier quicker, and this puts a bit more pressure on you. I like the challenge of tough audiences, it’s not always possible to convert them but when you can get them onside it’s a great feeling.

You have some upcoming gigs this autumn many of our students will be attending your gig in the Ulster hall, what can they expect? and what can fans expect in the future?
The Mandela Hall will be by far the biggest gigs I’ve done on my own! I’ve been doing solo shows at Black Box, they were lovely shows in a great venue but I had aspirations to play somewhere bigger. There was no guarantee tickets would sell so it was a huge risk. It will be show I’ve just taken to Edinburgh, so hopefully if you’ve seen it in Belfast before you’ll be seeing a far tighter version- and if you’re seeing it for the first time hopefully it’s just over an hour of funny stories and experiences. There will also be a support act. I hope it’s going to be a great night!
For the future I want to travel the world doing stand up, and hopefully create content at the same time. I’ve recently signed with a great agent at UTA so I’m looking forward to seeing where that goes.

Your campaign trail sketches were incredibly well received did you face any criticism for doing political based sketches?
They went down well and were great fun to do. However, one chap did express a desire to shoot me. Something like  that might have terrified me a few years ago but the way my brain works now means that the first thing I thought when it happened was – this will be good stand up material. And it has been, so cheers mate (and please don’t actually shoot me)!

Have you had any memorable experiences in the Holy Lands?
I’ve been to a few house parties in the Holylands and witnessed a few bonkers things. I mainly just had an urge to clean most of the houses we were partying in though. It would genuinely give me so much enjoyment to get the Dyson out and go nuts for an hour. Party king.

What advice do you have for young comedians that are wanting to break out?
Take your time. It took me about six years to create my first hour long show. I see acts now doing theirs after less than a year. That’s in no way a bad thing- some people just find their voice quicker. What I mean is just don’t panic if you don’t have a ‘show’ in mind just yet. It’ll be ready when it’s ready.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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