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INTERVIEW: Shane Todd From BBC’s Late Licence

Shane Todd is a rising performer in the comedy world of Ireland and on the strength of his recent online and TV appearances very much ‘one to watch’. He’s performed in the Sketchy Stand Up Showcase and acted in BBC NI’s ‘Sketchy’, Channel 4’s ‘Ape’ & ‘iCandy’ plus as a writer/actor in BBC NI sketch series ‘LOL’. Recently he appeared in the BBC show Late Licence alongside other Irish based comedians such as Colin Geddis, Ciaran Bartlett and Teresa Livingstone.

In this exclusive interview Shane shares his thoughts about how Late Licence came about; gigging down South and the current healthy state of comedy in Northern Ireland 

Q: How did the Late License come about?

SHANE: BBC NI were looking for a new comedy showcase. Most of those involved knew Jackie (Hamilton – the producer) through the Empire comedy club that he runs. He reached out to a mixture of people that had been ‘knocking on the door’ with online content (Colin Geddis and myself) and a host of new faces that hadn’t been given a platform like this until now.

When I was told I’d have a lot of control over my own stuff for the show it was a no brainer to get involved. I’ve been doing videos with Colin for a long time on and off, and we’ve been gigging together for years now so I knew his stuff would be very strong.

I’ve never hosted anything before, that was the only thing I was nervous about- but I really enjoyed doing that.

Q: What’s your favourite sketch in the new series?

SHANE: I think my strongest sketches are my live studio stand up/monologue pieces, which I’m delighted about. Stand up is my main passion so I was really happy with how these turned out. I’ve recorded gigs before that went great on the night but didn’t come across like that- so I was chuffed that the content we shot in the Mac came across like it felt doing it live.

Working with Colin on the hipster sketches was probably the most fun to make. He loosely wrote them before we shot but we improvised a lot of it on the spot, which is always great craic.

My favourite sketches that I’m not involved in (I sound like a major cock now that I read that back) are Ciaran Bartlett’s songs and the Chuck McGinley and The Manboy series.

Q: What can audiences expect across the 8 episodes?

SHANE: A huge mix of different types of performer and humour. Being a showcase for multiple people there is hopefully something that everyone will like.

There are big personalities in there – like Al Porter, Ciaran Bartlett and Teresa Livingstone, as well as more introverted people. 15 minute episodes mean it’s fairly manic and fast paced, which personally I think works really well.

Q: You’ve gigged all over the country, do you find a difference in tone/style between comedy up North and in the Republic?

SHANE: Sadly I don’t get down South as much as I’d like to gig. I did Gearoid Farrelly’s gig in Naul a few months ago, which is absolutely superb. Apart from that I haven’t been down too often. Even though it’s only down the road it’s difficult to go to Dublin regularly and do five minutes for free, when you’re doing solo shows at home. I did do that travelling a lot and it was like plate spinning. I couldn’t keep going to Dublin, London, Scotland and around home whilst holding down a 9-5 job. Now that I’ve been full time for a while I’ll certainly be looking to play the Republic as much as possible.

I don’t know how different the tastes really are. One major thing I’ve noticed in Southern gigs is that the audiences are packed with tourists. That is not the case in the North at all. I thought that the louder, more animated comedians did great playing to the tourist audiences. I’m a bit more slow and deadpan and more often that not it wasn’t connecting.

In saying that I’ve absolutely loved doing Kilkenny Cat Laughs a few times, and Roisin Dubh in Galway. There are some amazing gigs and comedians down South.

I like a lot of what RTE do with their comedy. The Savage Eye is a big favourite in our house! I had a very brief chat with someone at RTE last year, maybe something can happen there in the future.

Q: BBC Northern Ireland seem to be getting behind up and coming comedy talent – is that making an impact on the comedy scene in NI?

SHANE: Time will tell. This is the first project of its kind in a long time on BBC NI and I think those involved, myself included, are in a far better position now to make TV compared to five years ago when it maybe came a bit soon. But it’s always a great thing when BBC here are supporting what you do. I’m doing radio bits and pieces for BBC Radio Ulster too so there’s plenty going on at the minute.

There isn’t a sudden explosion of new people coming to see stand up. Maybe down the line something like Late Licence will show people that the acts on their doorstep are worth paying a few quid for.

Late Licence is broadcast on BBC Two and is also available on the BBC iPlayer at this link. Follow Shane on Twitter @shanetodd for updates on the show and future gigs – support live comedy!

Thanks to Shane for his time and expect more behind the scenes interviews with all walks of comedy life in the future. Who would you like featured?

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