INTERVIEW: Phil Smith (Shoe Cake Comedy Club) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Hi Phil, wanna tell us a bit about what you do?
In a nutshell I’m a Cabaret performer, comedy promoter, and new comedian. I run a handful of independent comedy club nights in the North East and Yorkshire called The Shoe Cake Comedy Club. I’ve been featuring as Matt Gloss for 4 years now in a comedy/musical cabaret show called Club Visage along with my best buddy Ade who plays Timmy Mullet, and about 10 months ago now I took the plunge into stand up comedy as an alternative character act called Ted Hanky. 

How’ve the comedy nights been going? What’s coming up?
The comedy nights are going incredibly well. For some reason performers love to perform at them and audience members are having a great time. I must be doing something right. 
It all started with a free entry night in at Musiclounge in Stockton almost a year ago (which is still running today) then grew into more nights in Hartlepool, Leeds, and I’m about to start some pro bill nights in collaboration with Hilarity Bites at Tuned In! on the Redcar seafront. It’s going to be a busy December as we have a number Christmas Comedy Crackers happening in the North East. 
Thursday 7th December at Musiclounge we have the Multi Award winning Jack Gleadow and Headlining is the superb improv comedy troupe ‘The Discount Comedy Checkout’.
Friday 15th December we are up at Chilli Cake Cafe in Hartlepool where we have the excellent Jim McMaster and Monty Burns on, and Saturday 16th December is the 1st night at Tuned in! working with Hilarity Bites and its an amazing line up of Abi Roberts, Carl Hutchinson, and Pat Monahan plus support. I honestly can not wait! 

With the 80s club, why did you choose that decade?
I’ve always been a huge fan of 80s music. I grew up in Thornaby and my Mum used to always be playing all the then current 80s classics on vinyl and cassette. The toys and gadgets were great, the movies were fantastic, and the hair and fashion….were terrible! Ade and I thought it was the perfect era to create parody characters for a unique entertainment concept. Hence Club Visage was created and so was Matt Gloss, Timmy Mullet, Freddie Mercurial, and Tom Bones. 

What’s coming next with that?
We’ve had a busy summer of festivals, army ball’s, and corporate events but it gets even busier during December. We are all of the UK performing at Christmas party nights in various hotels, restaurants, and function rooms. 
This year we have two 80s nights at Borge Restaurant Function Bar on Friday 22nd December and Saturday 23rd December. We are also doing a New Years Revolution there on New Years Eve where we will be delving into the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 00s. 
All the nights include food and entertainment and promise to be fantastic! 

Tell us some of the best 80s songs we should be putting on our playlists?
Deep down I’m a big indie fan so I love stuff by bands like The Jam and  INXS, but the songs I know that get people on the dance floor are Just Can’t Get Enough –  Depeche Mode, Little Respect – Erasure, Come on Eileen – Dexy, Tainted Love – Soft Cell, Don’t Stop Believing – Journey, and anything by Wham, Maddonna, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston. 

And a bit about Ted Hanky?
Ted is brilliant. I’m actually loving every minute of performing as Ted at the moment and he’s getting some real good feedback from the other promoters I’ve gigged for and the other comedians I’ve gigged with. Ted is an odd looking chap, big teeth, bad hair, terrible clothes but people seem to warm to him so quickly. It very silly, surreal humour which can range from talking in detail about particular body parts, to trying new chat up lines out on audience volunteers. Don’t be surprised if vegetables are unexpectedly produced and illustrations are displayed to accompany the story telling jokes. It’s very visual character comedy and I love that! 

What’s next for him?
Teds got gigs in Sheffield, Harrogate, London, and back up in Teesside where he will be MCing the Stockton Shoe Cake on Dec 7th. 
Next year Ted has gigs in Manchester, Wales, and big festival booked in but I’m looking to fill Teds diary with much more and hopefully break into some of the big weekend line up and support some of the awesome talent out there on the circuit who are starting to make it. 

How’ve you found performing comedy so far?
To begin with it was tough because Ted was part of a double act which we simply couldn’t take any further due to other commitments but ever since Ted has went solo it’s felt like a natural transistion. I never get really nervous and would say I was naturally a confident person whether performing or not and I’m always looking to improve and test my ability. I’m quietly confident, that after more fine tuning and experience, he will do pretty well.  When Ted is on the Royal Variety show pulling sausages out of his underpants we can all look back on this interview and say … “the world has gone mad!” 

And promoting comedy?
Its tough, and it’s constant, and can stress the hell out of you….but can also be very rewarding. Certainly when you attract a decent sized crowd to one of your nights. It gives me great pleasure seeing acts perform to a full house and enjoy themselves. I do get genuine pleasure from seeing people laugh and if the audience have a great time then it feels like a job well done. 

If you were putting together an all time dream comedy line-up, who would be on it?
Wow! What a question. 
Steve Coogan – the best their is at character comedy. Paul Calf, Saxondale, and of course Alan Partridge. Huge fan.
League of Gentleman – such clever, dark, surreal comedy. It’s borderline genius and incredibly unique.
Rik Mayall – my idol. There has never been another comedian like Rik. A master at what he used to do. Violently funny, aggressive yet charming, and incredibly clever. It genuinely broke my heart when he passed away. 
Gene Wilder – my all time favourite comedy film actor. He could just engross you from start to finish on screen. Loved him in Willy Wonka and Young Frankenstein but my favourite film is Stir Crazy! 
Russell Brand – not everyone’s cup of tea but in my eyes he is without doubt the cleverest comedian out there. He talks, you listen. Everything he says can resonate so simply with me. I seen him in Leeds recently and he picked on me out of the entire audience to read out my most embarrassing sexual experience which then streamed to hundreds of thousands of people on Facebook live. (Don’t even think about asking what that was ha ha) 
Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer. – a huge inspiration to my own comedy and the reason why my comedy nights are called Shoe Cake Comedy. True fans will know why. 

And the same for an 80s super bill of bands?
Queen, The Jam, Bowie, Wham, Fleetwood Mac, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Spandau Ballet, ABC, and Duran Duran. 
What a line up that would be! 

What’s next for the end of 2017/beginning of 2018?
Continue to showcase the best new comedy talent on the Shoe Cake nights and hopefully grow the Pro night in Redcar to a regular event and attract some big names of comedy along to perform. 
Club Visage go from strength to strength each year with more festival and corporate gigs, I really want us to put a huge 80s party night on somewhere on a regular basis, where we host the night and feature cover bands from all over the UK and all the audience get dressed up in 80s fancy dress. 
And finally for Ted Hanky, ramp up the gigging and eventually land some middle support on pro bills and hopefully get the opportunity to perform at some of the best venues. I’ll keep plugging away and hopefully one day it may lead to something good. 

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