The Holywood comic brings his delusional alter ego Mike McGoldrick to the Black Box
The Black Box has taken on a slightly different complexion tonight. Usually a sort of crèche for round-shouldered, hard-drinking academics, there are young, attractive people here of every colour, stripe and hue: from Cadmium Yellow to Windsor Orange (Red Shade).
This is the Todd effect. As he himself says, 'I did my first show here five years ago and now I’m back in exactly the same place. All I’ve done is age – really well.' Todd is a good-looking boy, and his Harlem Gun Club YouTube clips get many thousands of hits.
His asinine sports celeb character, Mike McGoldrick, is more popular still. This, his first (nearly) hour long show is not exactly make or break, but it will be interesting to see how this rising star of the comedy scene handles himself over a longer distance.
First though there is support from Ballymena’s Paddy McGaughey. He is his usual charming, moon-calf self, smoking out any culchies in the audience by singing Kenny Roger’s 'The Gambler', with an option on 'Cotton Eyed Joe' for younger viewers. It’s a rambling, free-form set, seemingly dictated only by an increasingly smeared set-list on the back of his hand, and whatever feedback he can get from the audience. But they’re an apt and appreciative lot.
So we’re taken on a whistle-stop tour of Ballymena’s turf wars – 'They were selling it at £1.49 – and they delivered' – the study of Geography, poor quality meteorological advice and the difference between American and Irish support groups – 'I hope you die on your hole'. McGaughey doesn’t, walking off to sustained and sustaining applause – better than a silver blanket and a Mars bar.
Asked why his show is called Anecboats, Shane Todd replies: 'There used to be two stories about boats but I dropped one. There is a call-back at the end of the show. But that isn’t about boats either.' So it may not be nautical – but it is nice.
Todd’s is an interesting comic persona. He doesn’t do jokes, as such. Instead he rattles off a steady stream of vignettes of varying length, each designed to make him look utterly foolish. These are interspersed with asides and one-liners of louche cockiness, making it seem as if the celebrity swordsman McGoldrick is bleeding into the act, irrepressibly.
Thus a toe-curling, tongue-tied tale about Todd’s inability to talk to the check-out girl in a teashop is interspersed with 'I always pay with a card – I don’t carry cash. That’s just me.' A similar story involving a muffed back stage interaction with Justin Bieber (it’s not what you think) resolves itself with, 'We’re good mates now.'
This is where Todd is at his most deft, subverting the gaucheness of his societal interactions with an unexpectedly bullish legitimacy: we believe him when steps, for a moment, from behind the curtain to say 'But no, I’m cool really'. But we also believe the tortuous anxieties that he relates to us, as they’re based on the things that he desires: women in tea shops and celebrity pals.
My favourite part of the set is another collision with near celebrity (a ride home with a producer in his convertible) wherein Todd feels obliged to accept a Snickers Ice Cream despite his nut allergy. Over the course of the next ten minutes, a series of circumstances dictate that he will be offered an unwanted part in a television programme about young magicians.
Again it is the need to follow the main chance and not offend the powerful that is the genesis of the story, and notions of Alan Partridge and Larry David crowd in. But the scale and the delivery are all Todd’s own, and he delivers it perfectly.
There is a shout out for the film Battle of the Bone, local auteur George Clarke’s kung fu Zombie opus, which Todd was in and which was premiered at the Odyssey centre – played through an X-Box. ('About three quarters of the way through a sign flashed up reading, “Asgar wants to play Call of Duty”').
And there is a lengthy skit on the movie Titanic, which Todd mistakes for a documentary, and which is the show’s titular boat. The delusion persists beyond the boundaries of the film, as Todd is happy to report sightings of Leonardo DiCaprio living a successful and happy life in other films.
Todd’s show clocks in at slightly under an hour, but he looks as if he could go on all night, barely breaking a sweat. There are the beginnings of something extremely good here, a comic persona that can easily stretch to fill an hour of your time and leave you wanting more. Shane Todd remains the only local comedian I know of who has his photo taken with adoring fans after the show. To quote another Leonardo 'documentary', catch him while you can.