Stuck In A Lift
The stand-up, actor and podcaster talks Braveheart, his professional football dreams and rejection from Nick Knowles
Belfast’s Shane Todd quit his job at a call centre and quickly became one of Northern Ireland’s biggest stand-ups – before taking on the rest of the world. He’s sold out shows across the US and Canada, toured with Kevin Hart, and hosts a weekly comedy podcast about tea (which has over 230 episodes).
Now preparing to bring his 10th solo show, Mummy, to UK stages throughout the autumn, we got stuck in a lift with Todd to sweat the small stuff.
Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
Mick Jagger. I’m a big fan of Mick Jagger and he’s just turned 80. I saw him in Croke Park and it was one the best concerts of my life. I would like to just learn how to move like Mick, because Mick’s 80 and I can’t move with that much flexibility myself, so I would just like to know how to perfect that neck thing. I need to learn his snake-like moves.
Do you think there’s enough room in the lift for him to teach you everything he knows?
I don’t know if there’s enough room for the egos of two Mick Jaggers in the lift!
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with?
Anyone who’s intellectual. It would just be boring, wouldn’t it? You know they’d be trying to teach you things, facts, you know, all that kind of stuff. I can’t really take any more in. I’m 35 – I’ve learned everything I’m going to learn. So I’d hate to be in a lift with someone and they go, “Where do you think the sky ends?”
What’s the weirdest interaction you’ve ever had with a famous person?
Do you know Nick Knowles? He does DIY SOS. I did a stand-up show for the BBC, the main BBC. I thought, you know, this isn’t even BBC Northern Ireland, I’m going to get all these followers. I’m gonna blow up, it’s going to be incredible. And I got one Tweet after the show, because it was on like 22:45. Nick Knowles said, “@ShaneTodd loved it you were on fire.” And then I thought, Nick Knowles now follows me on Twitter, I can DM him. He never followed me. He didn’t drop the follow. So Nick, if you’re out there, come to the show. Come over to Dublin for the weekend. Me and you we’ll hit Temple Bar, have a great time, go to Abrakebabra.
What was the last gig you went to?
The last gig I went to was Aslan in Vicar Street, in Dublin, a couple of days after I got married. Before we went on the honeymoon, our flight was going out of Dublin. So we were like “right, what’s on in Dublin.” I was a big Aslan fan and there were still a couple of tickets left, so we just went for it last minute. And it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. Stage presence, that atmosphere… Everything was great.
Does it feel more special now?
Yeah, I’m really glad. There are so many artists you go, “ah, I should really go and see them.” But maybe you put it off or maybe they’re only playing Dublin, they’re not playing Belfast. So that taught me that if there’s a band or artist you really want to go and see, go and see them. It was such a good concert.
What’s on your rider?
My rider used to be water, fruit and almond milk, and then venues started to get… I like unsweetened almond milk, and I was just getting sweetened almond milk. So I’m really ticked off about that, and I used to just throw it on the floor and make it explode.
I ask for nothing. I bring all my stuff. I bring almond milk for a cup of tea. Sometimes I bring… well, in Dublin I’ll be OK, I don’t bring my own tea bags, but when I go on tour in England, I end up getting PG Tips. I can’t take that risk. But otherwise, I’m just coming with a rucksack. I’m smuggling in unsweetened almond milk and a couple of bottles of water, that’s it.
What did 12-year-old you imagine you’d be doing now?
I thought I would be a professional footballer up until about three years ago, when I realised I’m probably too old. Ability never came into it, even when people said, “You don’t have the ability to play semi-professional football, even in Northern Ireland.” But I still thought “I’m going to play for Man United someday.” And now… look, if they’re interested I’m still maybe a bit interested, but stand-up is where it’s at. We’d have to work out a certain deal where I probably couldn’t play Champions League because that’s gonna be a Thursday evening and I might have a gig, so I couldn’t.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever been given?
My dad came to see me live – he comes every year – but he came to see me last year. I thought it had been a really good gig. He meant well, but he said, “see when you do the bits in your show and they really, really laugh at it and they clap?…” Because there was a bit in the show where it got a round of applause from the audience. My dad goes, “Would you not just do more of that?” And I said, “That’s like going up to a professional footballer and going, see when you scored a goal in that match, why don’t you just score a thousand of those in a match.” So that’s the worst advice, “Do more of that!”
If you had a theme song playing every time you walked into a room, what would it be?
There’s a RuPaul song that I really like, I’m thinking about it being my walk-on song for the tour – it just encapsulates everything I’m about. I had to get it for my walkout music for a podcast recently.
‘You Better Work’ by RuPaul. If that plays when I walk into a room, it’s gonna be a good time.
What’s the skill no one else knows you’re great at?
This is gonna blow up the Ticketmaster socials. It might just blow up the internet in general. I’m so glad you asked me this. I can speak inside my own mouth. Rob Brydon does the little man inside a box, but this is better. Watch this, right, people are gonna say Ticketmaster paid to get this, it’s AI or something. It’s not AI.
[Todd then proceeds to do a genuinely impressive voice from inside his own mouth]
“I’m trapped inside here and I can’t get out!”
Now what’s mental about that is, how did I know I could do that? I didn’t really have many friends as a child and it just got to the point where I went, “I wonder, could I speak inside my mouth?” I love stand-up and I’ve gotten to do some amazing gigs and tours, but nothing I do on stage is more impressive than that.
Have you ever done it on stage?
I did it on stage at the Ulster Hall in Belfast years ago, and people thought that it wasn’t real. They thought it was played in audio, but it is real. Like, genuinely, are you really impressed by that?
It’s wild that I can do that! Do you want to try?
Eh no. Maybe later.
What’s your most controversial food opinion?
My most controversial food opinion… Salmon and beans. Salmon. And. Beans. People can turn their nose up and say you shouldn’t have salmon and beans. But salmon and beans, maybe a bit of veg and spuds… Game changer. My dad had it once and people thought he had lost his mind. He has lost his mind, but he was right about salmon and beans. Unreal.
So would the beans be like a sauce on the salmon?
They can certainly act as a sauce. I love spooning the beans on top of the salmon, you’ve got the sauce and the beans are just sitting on top.
Also, bananas are one of the greatest foods ever. Undefeated. A bad banana is still better than most other fruits.
What film have you rewatched the most times?
See, I don’t like rewatching stuff. I don’t get people who watch a boxset and go “we’re doing it again!” Why? You know what’s going to happen? I’ve probably seen multiple episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm more than anything, but in terms of a film… I rewatched Braveheart again recently. So I’ve probably seen Braveheart four or five times, which may be more than any other film.
Freedom! [Said from somewhere inside his mouth]
Do you have any superstitions?
No, I don’t like getting into that, because what if you’re in a rush to get to the venue and you can’t do it? You’re gonna feel like you’re not going to be as good. One thing I do like to do – it’s not a superstition – I like to iron the top that I’m going to wear when I’m at the venue. Get to the venue, get my tea set up, get my fruit set up, and then get the ironing board out and do a bit of ironing. That iron will be used backstage by me. People probably look at me and go, “He has a team doing that for him.” No. I iron my own gear.