Rising Star: Shane Todd
Interview by Stacy Fitzpatrick
Let’s be honest-We all love to laugh, and we all love to be made to laugh. Whether it’s random banter with friends or heading to a comedy show to be entertained, we all want that aching belly feeling.
The idea of making a group of strangers laugh for many however, would be incredibly daunting but for those that do it, an exhilarating experience.
Holywood’s Shane Todd knows this all too well. The 28 year old stand up comedian is fast rising through the ranks to being one of Northern Ireland’s freshest funnymen.
Straight off the back of this years Edinburgh Fringe Festival he has just achieved a sell out show at the Ulster Hall.
“It was just surreal to do it. I couldn’t of dreamed of selling it out.” Modest Shane admits. “I set myself a target of 600. I thought if we can get 600 people in I’ll be delighted. And about five minutes before I went on stage I was told ‘That’s it, it’s sold out.’”
“It’s still a bit of a blur because of so much adrenaline and nerves but it was a really amazing night. It gives me something to work hard for because I’d love to do it next year again.”
A mammoth achievement for Shane, who has been gradually mastering his craft over the last nine years, performing for the first time at the age of 19.
I did it for the first time out of curiosity.” says Shane, talking about his journey into the world of comedy. “ I was a big fan of stand up, watched it as a child on television all the time and I was curious about how it would go. Could I do a set, could I get laughs…
“ And then the first time I did it, it was a complete disaster!” He admits, continuing: “I just forgot all my material that I had prepared, it just went out of my head! I got some sympathy laughs but comedy wise it was a complete disaster!”
“I said I wasn’t going to do it again. But about five months after that I did another gig and it went a bit better. I thought ‘Give it another go and see what happens.’ And I’m very glad that I did.”
Since then he hasn’t looked back, with TV bit-parts and his own YouTube video series initially, before attracting the attention of the BBC on a bigger scale with roles on the Nolan Show, BBC’s Late Licence and BBC Radio Ulster show ‘Live At The Sunflower.’ The stand up comedy showcase for local comedians was broadcast earlier this year on BBC Radio Ulster.
‘Live At The Sunflower’ has been nominated for Best Comedy Programme at this years PPI Radio Awards.
“It’s great to get that recognition.” says Shane on the PPI nomination.“The main thing was that I think we made a good programme, which is all we wanted to do. I think that all the comics that we on it-and there were dozens of them-they came across really well, the audience on the night enjoyed it and anyone who listened came away thinking ‘I’d love to see that person live.’ Maybe there was someone on the bill who they enjoyed. And that’s exactly what we were trying to do. Supporting the stand up scene, the live scene via radio.”
With the ball firmly rolling, he now has a brand new comedy series about to start on BBC Radio Ulster. The self titled Shane Todd Show will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster on October 4th for a period of eight weeks. The series is part of BBC Northern Ireland’s new season of comedy.
His own show on BBC Radio Ulster has been personal ambition from the start of his career as he reveals:
“I did work experience with Radio Ulster when I was 18. And I always said to myself ‘I’d love to do a show on Radio Ulster and for years I sent demo tapes that I recorded in my room by myself-I’d be mortified if they ever came to light!
But you’d get a reply… ‘Well if anything comes up we’ll keep you in mind.’ People were dead on enough to give you a reply. And now I’m doing a show there!”
“That’s what I wanted. I’m quite ambitious. I guess I didn’t appreciate how long it takes to learn your craft. You’re always learning you know but I thought just because you did stand up you would get a lot of stuff given to you TV wise, purely by default. But in reality you get it because you prove you can perform, and you can write and that a certain amount of people enjoy it.”
Shane is embracing diving into radio comedy with enthusiasm. Defining the new territory he says “With stand up people can hear you, see you and they get a really good sense of who you are but with radio you just have your voice to go on, so I guess it’s a totally different art form, one that I’m just learning and getting to grips with.’
The 45 minute show promises a mixture of sketches, guest comedians and music in each episode, bringing listeners an auric comedy experience every week.
With a range of comedy talent on each show, it will give listeners and comedy fans the opportunity to discover new comedians as Shane affirms:
“There’s a great sketch called Country News which is with Omagh comedian Aaron McCann. He’s an up and coming comedian who has just done his first Edinburgh Festival. I think it will be a highlight for a lot of people.”
“There’s going to be a guest comedian on every week. It’s going to be a bit of a mixture really of stand up,sketches…there’s going to be some monologues, a wee bit of music. So there’s a lot of different elements to it but there’s a narrative throughout. An eclectic mix of comedy.
“And if people don’t like me there’s going to be guests which is good! There will be guest comics from Northern Ireland and from down South as well. And people who were based locally and gone further afield are coming back to do the show which is great.”
“Everyone who is going to be on are people who I’ve gigged with on the comedy scene so we already have good rapport and hopefully we can make that come across on the show.”
During the show Shane will be delivering monologues of random experiences he has had over the previous week. “It’ll be personal type experiences. Things that have actually happened to me and that I’ve seen. That’s what my stand up is. That’s what I’m ‘Joey talking about’. So there’ll be little snippets of that.”
Fans of Shane will be familiar with his character Mike McGoldrick, who will be regularly voicing his thoughts on the show.
“Mike McGoldrick will be doing the North Down News.” says Shane. “The North Down News is a magazine type sketch that looks at the news from the social scene of the middle to upper class of Northern Ireland society.
“It’s a new format for the character which I think fits really well. So I think the people who like that character will really like the sketch.”
With a wealth of homegrown voices, Shane is focused on the intention of the show:
“I want this to be funny for people listening in Scotland or England or anywhere really so hopefully some of it is just universally funny. That’s what we’re aiming for.”
For a feel-good Tuesday night, be sure to tune into the first episode of The Shane Todd Show on BBC Radio Ulster at 10.15pm on Tuesday 04 October.
You can also listen again on the BBC Radio iPlayer via bbc.co.uk/radio