Interview: Phil Smith | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Thornaby’s Phil Smith is the founder and owner of comedy promoter Shoe Cake Comedy and eighties disco show, Club Visage, as well as a performer in improv comedy act, The Discount Comedy Checkout. His comedy alias is Middlesbrough F.C super-fan Ted Hanky who has taken the podcast world by storm with his Teesside themed comedy/football podcast, Ted Talks – The Ted Hanky Podcast. We catch up with Phil to find out more ahead of his show with The Discount Comedy Checkout on Thursday 19th December at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton.

Who were your comedy icons growing up?
I’m a huge Rik Mayall fan, his stand up was amazing. So nervous and awkward on stage but it just added to the brilliance of his character work, The Young Ones and Bottom were my bread and butter growing up. Same goes for the work of Vic and Bob – I adore their surrealness, parody sketches, and absurdism – loving the fact they are back on the telly. Steve Coogan is another comedian I really admire, his attention to detail making characters so brilliantly believable is superb, and then The League of Gentleman for their dark and twisted take and superb character acting. 

Regarding today’s acts, I’m a big fan of Spencer Jones, Matt Berry, and Morgana Robinson.

Where did your alias Ted Hanky come from? Tell us more about him.
Ted started as part of a double act called Ted Hanky and Terrence Tees D’Arby – we did a little stand up together, a handful of gigs, but my friend who played Terry wanted to spend more time with his family which I totally understood so I went solo with Ted, carefully adapting the character over many months into what he is today. Basically, everyone in the North of East has met someone like Ted before. Funny looking, set in his ways, naive about today’s trends, but very proud of where he is from… the community, the people, the landmarks, and the local football team. I took characteristics from many a bloke I ever met down the social clubs of Thornaby and Stockton when growing up… and slightly exaggerated them. I also based a lot of Ted’s craic and way of words on my old man, Big Stan – he’ll kill me when he reads this. 

How long have you been doing your football/comedy podcast, ‘Ted Talks’ for? What made you want to do a podcast and what’s it about?
It’s a weekly podcast and I’m currently on episode 26. I was building up quite a strong following on Facebook with some of my videos and quite a few people messaged the page asking me to do a podcast. At the time I was just getting on board with some content for Boro Fan TV and they helped me to get things set up and are now one of the show sponsors along with ‘Shoe Cake Comedy’ and ‘Jokepit – The Comedy Box Office’. 

The show is meant to be about football and in particular Middlesbrough F.C but I’d say 90% of the show is more comedy with special comedian guests, parody celebrities, fictional adverts, songs, jingles, and a great section called ‘Ask Ted’ where I let listeners ask me anything on social media and I answer the best questions on the show. I don’t read the questions until I’m actually recording it so I have to naturally improvise my answers. 

You perform in The Discount Comedy Checkout. What is it you like about improv comedy?
Improv comedy is a fantastic way to challenge your ability to make people laugh and think on your feet. You are literally walking into every game, scenario, sketch with no material whatsoever – just the audience suggestions. Every show is a totally different show and I love that. It’s really sharpened me up on stage. My confidence, my ability to do crowd work, quick comebacks, creating characters from nothing, identify jokes from the smallest detail, and it’s also really broadened my knowledge of pop culture and general knowledge. The other DCC guys I mainly gig with, Chris Lumb, Eddie French, and Tom King are a joy to watch and perform with, I learn new stuff all the time from these three all of the time.

What can people expect from the Shoecake Comedy show on 19th December?
It’s always a great show at our monthly Shoe Cake Comedy night at the Georgian Theatre in Stockton. The nights, and in particular the improv, are attracting a regular following these days. On Dec19th we are opening with a support slot from Middlesbrough comedian Dean Moore. Dean is a fantastic act, very funny, and just an all-round top bloke. Normally we would then have a couple of up and coming acts doing shorter sets in the middle but this time, because it’s an X-mas special, we are doing an extended improvised comedy show featuring more games and scenarios – some with a festive twist. 

It promises to be great fun and perfect for anyone wanting a fun Christmas night out in a safe friendly environment. Come along and throw those suggestions at us! 

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