Shane Todd: I know comedians are meant to be tortured souls but I don't fit with that
Having sold out the Ulster Hall three times in the past two years, comedian Shane Todd will make a '˜Heroic' return to the venue in November.
As well as being an online sensation, the Holywood funnyman has hosted his own radio show and starred in Late Licence, a showcase for NI comedians.
A seasoned stand up at the age of 30, he will be embarking on his first full tour of Northern Ireland and the UK with his brand new solo show entitled ‘Hero’.
The comedian answered 10 questions posed by the News Letter – often honestly, but sometimes with his tongue firmly in his cheek.
Q: Your new show is based on the Wild West character you were named after – how long would you have survived in the Wild West?
A: Not long. I’m lactose intolerant and I try not to have gluten so I’d probably die of starvation. Or they’d shoot me for being difficult.
Q: Any plans to settle down and have children of your own that you can name after Wild West characters?
A: I won’t be having children purely for that reason, but yes a ‘Toto Todd’ would be nice.
Q: You seem to be incredibly busy at the moment, can you tell us about some of the things you’re currently working on?
A: It’s good to maintain the impression of being busy as you get asked to do less stuff. Usually if I say I’m going to do a gig or write a script I just go to Tesco and cry in the car park. Aside from that I’m working on a sitcom, getting ready for a tour, making online sketches and also crying in Asda car parks.
Q: As a comedian have you ever experienced the tears of a clown?
A: A bad gig will frustrate me. If I’ve been working on a bit (of material) and deliver it wrongly, or just don’t have a good one, I’ll be annoyed about it for a while. Usually I just focus on the next show and try to make up for it. Overall I’m an extremely content person. I know comedians are meant to be tortured souls but I don’t fit with that. Maybe me not thinking I’m tortured makes me the most tortured out of anyone. I’m crying now. Again.
Q: Can you remember the first time you ever made someone laugh?
A: Yes. I wrote and performed a sketch in Beavers (monster shoutout to the 99th troop!) because I was pretty cool back in the day. It involved me and another boy pretending to have a fist fight and then we stopped and I said, “fancy going to the pub, mate” and he said, “yeah, why not”. We walked off arm in arm. I was livid that it got a lukewarm response. That’s probably the best sketch I’ve ever written to this day.
Q: How close did you come to death in 2014?
A: I felt its breath on my neck. Well, I don’t know, but if it wasn’t for the NHS it would have been even worse. I had my first flare up of Crohn’s Disease and it wasn’t great banter. I got through two seasons of Luther in hospital though and my parents bought me a lot of sweets. Every cloud.
Q: Is it fair to say you’re an exception to the rule of comedians who dislike sport?
A: I like it enough for all comedians. If you told me there was an international mixed doubles badminton game between Moldova and Senegal in a leisure centre in Tandragee my only question would be, “what time will I pick you up at?”
Q: If you could pick one of your characters to have a spin-off TV career who would it be?
A: I’d do a new one. I enjoy doing all the pre-existing characters that I do but it would be cool to just hit refresh and come up with something else. Mike McGoldrick outside of Northern Ireland might be funny. Teaching rugby to kids in Asia. I’d watch that.
Q: Are there any subjects you consider out of bounds?
A: Yes, my ears. I used to have really big ears as a child but my head sort of grew in my teens so it made my ears look less big. Just stop talking about my ears! In comedy in general? Not really. It depends who the joke is on. I’m more offended by people being offended these days.
Q: How easy or difficult is it to make a living as a comedian?
A: It depends what breaks you get and how good you are at it I guess. I’ve been performing for 11 years now, four full time. I have a strong work ethic and I’m always trying to learn and get better but I’ve also had help and advice from some great people, so it’s a mixture of things, there’s no formula to it. It’s a double-edged sword locally – being a small place you can move up the ranks faster because there aren’t that many comedians. But then you have to constantly work on new material, because with the lack of regular clubs you don’t want people seeing the same set every time. But you need to refine those jokes and you do that by repetition. Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s hard. I love it and I’m so thankful that I am doing my dream job.
• Shane Todd will bring his stand up show ‘Hero’ to the Ulster Hall on November 23 and 24. He will also be headlining the Stendhal Festival in Limavady on August 11