Shane Todd: 'Is stand-up terrifying? That's what makes it great and gives you an adrenaline rush... it's my number one passion'
Ahead of his new comedy tour, Shane Todd talks to David O'Dornan about the characters he's made famous, working with the NI football team and being turned down for a role in Derry Girls
It's hard to fathom that comedian Shane Todd is still only 31 given that he has racked up 12 years as a stand-up and established himself on local TV as well. Yet the Holywood-born comic is not one to rest on his laurels, with ambitious plans for a film one of his many ideas alongside cooking up more hilarious characters.
Fans will already have seen his new BBC show Previously with Shane Todd air last Wednesday as well as a stellar performance as Laurence Lyle in Soft Border Control.
But he reveals that one of his most famous creations from his breakout skits - North Down "licensed banter merchant" Mike McGoldrick is taking a break after more than seven years of stunts and funny videos, including interviewing the likes of Rory McIlroy.
Followers of Mike's social media will have noticed he hasn't tweeted in more than a year, and Shane explains that the rise in profile of fellow comedian Paddy Rafferty's Bravo Tango Niner Nigel was behind his decision to rest him.
He says: "I've had a few people say to me that they're very similar. I don't know if I influenced him but that's the reason why I have stepped back a good bit from the Mike McGoldrick character.
"I just think there is a lot of crossover there. Maybe not at the start but more so now, so I didn't want to put Mike McGoldrick stuff out there and have people say it reminded them of that, because I had done it first.
"He's not retired. I think he's on a yacht in the Med somewhere! He's just keeping his head down but I think the characters have gotten very similar so I don't want to be doing the same things as somebody else. But I'm working on a few new characters as well."
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Despite the popularity of his clips on social media and landing TV shows, Shane says it will always be his stand-up gigs that are most important.
He says: "It's been a real busy two, three years which is great. The TV stuff has been really good. When I started out that's always been one thing that I really wanted to do.
"It felt like, if you did well enough at stand-up you would be asked to do TV stuff and it's good now, it's good to be able to do a wee bit of everything.
"But stand-up's always my main priority, it's my favourite thing. Is it terrifying? Well that's what makes it great, if it goes well it's the adrenalin rush that you don't get doing TV or acting or podcasts or radio or anything like that, stand-up is really my number one passion.
"It's just really exciting. Doing sketches and TV stuff, if I didn't enjoy it I wouldn't do it, but you can film something over a couple of days or a couple of weeks, then you wait for it to be broadcast, whereas when you do stand-up it's instant and that's great because it can go well or it can go badly and I just like the satisfaction of a good show.
"Having done stand-up for so long in any town, village whatever you can think of in this country, I've pretty much seen it all on stage."
Shane's fan-base has grown to the extent he previously sold out five nights at the Ulster Hall and he is now appearing at the same type of venues comedians with a national profile like Jimmy Carr and Frank Skinner perform at. "I think if I took too long to think about it, it would terrify me, so I try to think about the next one and definitely don't get too ahead of myself," he remarks.
"I'm always thinking of ways I can improve and make the show better year after year, but it's something I don't take for granted. The people come out and see shows and when I see my poster up there with the likes of Jimmy Carr or people who are on BBC or Channel 4 shows it's great, it's excellent - it just shows you that people here do support their own.
"I'm not someone who sets out long-term plans. I think that in the industry I'm in it's really difficult to plan anything because you never know what's going to happen.
"So I've started now to take every job as it comes and almost just see what I want to do at the time. My ambitions change quite a lot. It would be great to do more stuff in the likes of England but it would have to be the right thing. I'm really enjoying what I'm doing now.
"I've been to America quite a lot in the last year and I've really enjoyed that so I think I'd like to do more shows out there.
"I added a couple of tour shows out there and I reckon I'm going to do that this year. I don't know what the future holds but I just like to take it one step at a time."
Shane, who road-tested his new material with a couple of shows at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, was a hit with Northern Ireland football fans and players alike with his 'football shorts' series of clips for BBC online.
He admits that he was a little bit fan-boy around them but he has even had former Northern Ireland midfielder Chris Brunt come and support him at a gig across the water.
He says: "I've gone to Northern Ireland matches since I was a kid, so yeah, I do get a bit nervous around the players but as a group they are brilliant. There's nobody that I've done a video with that hasn't been welcoming and just up for taking the hand out of themselves which I think comes across.
"I wouldn't say I'm hanging around the team hotel stalking them but we've been over to see a few of the players at their clubs, you do get to spend a day with some of them and you could go for a coffee with any of them.
"Chris Brunt came along to a show - I was doing a show in London and Chris came along to it, which was great and a wee bit surreal having spent years going to watch him."
It's not all been plain-sailing for Shane, however. He was unsuccessful when he tried out for a part in the first series of Derry Girls and concedes that he "was supposed to do a slightly different accent to my own and did a terrible job of it so I didn't get the role".
But Shane would not have survived as long in such an unforgiving business if he didn't have a thick skin and occasional knock-backs do not dampen his enthusiasm for new projects - including making a movie.
He says: "I'd love to do a film in the next year or so.
"Just write it myself and make it here and make it with the guys that I've been doing videos with.
"I think that's something we'd really like to do, just for something a bit different, maybe when my tour ends.
"I think it's something we want to do ourselves, just do it low budget.
"It's been a while since I've seen something like that locally.
"We all say it's such an amazing film industry but it feels like there were a lot of indie films five or 10 years ago and I feel like something like that, something different, would get me really excited.
"Something a bit more ambitious would definitely get me excited.
"I would like to do something really different.
"Obviously comedy is my natural thing.
"It's what I'm most comfortable with but I've started to write a couple of things.
"I think a screenplay would be great.
"When you see people like Adrian Dunbar, saying that he wants to do comedy, that's great because there are actors here that want to do something a little bit different.
"I've never met him but when I saw that it sort of made me think, 'God it'd be great to do something or write a role for him'.
"I wouldn't say it would be ultra-serious.
"I don't see myself really ever doing something like that. Maybe slightly straighter.
"Definitely comedy but maybe not the sort of comedy that I've done, I'm always trying to think of new things and trying new things.
"I really enjoy acting so I think I'd like to do that a bit more.
"I think if there's types of acting that I want to do, then I'll maybe just start to look at just writing those things for myself."
- Shane's new show The Toddfather is at Belfast's Waterfront Hall on Saturday, September 28 and tickets can be bought from www.waterfronthall.co.uk or via their box office. Before that he is also performing in Portaferry (tonight), Magherafelt (Aug 31), Armagh (September 5), Londonderry (Sep 6), Newcastle (Sep 13), Ballymena (Sep 20), Lisburn (Sep 21), Newtownabbey (Sep 26) and Newry (Sep 27). Visit www.shanetoddcomedy.net for details