He’d be the very first person to acknowledge that the thing that he’s best known for is a 41-second viral video – entitled ‘Aw Class’ – which he uploaded to YouTube and Facebook over five years ago but there’s so much more to Tralee comedian Shane Clifford who has been quietly impressive in recent years, adding stand-up comedy and now podcasting to his growing list of talents.
hane, or ‘Shane’s Brilliant Page’ as you might know him, is not exactly your typical comedian but it is this type of off-brand humour that has garnered him a sizeable social media following, a level of support which has given him a platform to showcase his undoubted talent for making people laugh.
As someone who’s been a fan of Shane and his work for many a year, I was more than delighted last week when the 34-year-old said that he was up for an interview on his career to date.
A native of Gallowsfield in Tralee, the 34-year-old took his first tentative steps into the world of creativity back in 2014 when he was, as he puts it, “between jobs”.
“I was just bored and I was always interested in video editing and cinema and things like that. So I started off really wanting to make short little movies and making them funny was the natural choice for me,” he said.
“Although, I have to say that I have an odd enough sense of humour so a lot of people might not find my stuff funny at all. But that’s okay, so I just kept on making videos and I had extremely mild success with them,” he added with a smile.
While many of us would balk at the idea of uploading videos of ourself onto the internet, Shane said it was always in the back of his head to go one step further than videos and to venture into the terrifying world of live comedy. It wasn’t until another Kerry comedian, Bernard Casey, offered him the chance to do a short set in Killarney, that he decided to give it a try.
“Bernard asked me if I would like to do a set and, sure, I said yes and then I didn’t sleep for a week beforehand but I did it and was proud. I performed to a room of about six people, my jokes were terrible and I was visibly shaking up there, but I managed to get through it,” he continued.
As someone who fully acknowledges having suffered from anxiety throughout his life, you’d think that the stage is the last place that Shane would ever want to be but, funnily enough, the exact opposite is true and now, you’d have to fight to keep him off the stage.
“Once I got into stand-up, I pretty much stopped making videos and put all my efforts into doing live comedy. It’s addictive. I think it’s like a drug. The rush you get when the entire audience is hanging on your every word and laughing at everything you say is extreme. You feel weightless,” he said.
“But like most addictions there is a downside – that rush is rare. There are a lot of bad gigs you need to do, especially when you start out. When you start doing stand-up you are terrible, there is a lot to learn and the only way to learn is to gig as much as humanly possible,” he said.
Pursuing his passion though has certainly not been in any way a glamorous lifestyle and Shane is very open about the struggles he faced in his early stand-up days.
“Because there are no gigs in Tralee, twice a week I would have to get the green bus up to Dublin, five hours up, then do a 10 minute set to six people for no money and then get the green bus back down, another five hours with tears in my eyes. But, my God, it’s worth it for those nights when everything goes right,” he said.
And while there have certainly been lows, there are also plenty of highs for Shane as he name checks meeting his comedy heroes such as David O’Doherty and Gregg Turkington.
“Honestly, though, the main highlights for me will always be those random nights when I’ve killed in a small dark room full of strangers,” he revealed.
Sadly, though, as we enter into a ninth month of living with COVID-19, live comedy shows have all but disappeared and to say Shane is missing them is a massive understatement
Thankfully though for Shane, and indeed the rest of us who enjoy his work, Shane has used the ‘free’ time to start up a new podcast, aptly called ‘Shane’s Brilliant Podcast’.
“I started it back in February just before the whole Covid thing started. I thought that maybe I could just use it to generate some new material for stand-up – I could just talk about something and maybe it would trigger some ideas without any pressure. But then, of course, lock-down ended any ideas of stand-up shows so the only thing I had to focus on was the podcast.
“So I was lucky in a way that I had another outlet. Anyone can make a podcast. All you need is a microphone and a PC with internet, it’s very easy, so I like that aspect of it. The response has been pretty good. It’s not the most successful podcast in the world or anything but it does have a fairly loyal following.
“It is great to just let your mind wander and talk and have quite a few people react to it and find something of value. Or some enjoyment,” he continued.
Asked how he would describe or recommend the podcast to someone who had never heard it before, in typical fashion, Shane joked that it’s usually just a “stream of consciousness ramble that can go anywhere”.
And while the podcast is primarily comedy, Shane is not afraid to get serious as well, as evidenced by the earlier episodes of the podcast during the early parts of the lock-down in April and May when he spoke about the importance of looking after your mental health during the pandemic.
“Well, I think when you do a podcast like this, a weekly thing, and there is something as huge as Covid happening, you can’t really ignore it.
“A lot of what I talk about is how I feel about certain things. I might find some things absurd and some things ridiculous but some aspects of this lock-down have been tough for me personally as they have with almost everyone.
“And I know that sometimes, especially with all the isolation aspects of this thing, it can feel like you’re the only one really finding it tough. So I think that it can be helpful to talk about it. But I mostly try and focus on comedy because I think that can be helpful in these times too.”
Connect with Shane by heading to ‘Shane’s Brilliant Page’ on Facebook, @brilliantshane on Twitter and be sure to listen to ‘Shane’s Brilliant Podcast’ on Spotify with new episodes out every Thursday.