Shuntae Todd makes her comedy debut
Working for the Department of Parks, Shuntae Todd got a little miffed when everyone but her department got kudos for a hurricane clean-up.
She made a funny video and put it on her Facebook page.
“I said we’re not going to pick up one more leaf until we get some recognition,” she laughed.
The video went viral.
When she started a mobile carwash business Splash and Dash a few years ago, she made more videos to help its Instagram page get traction.
She talked about everything from letting gift certificates expire in a drawer to the challenges of washing a black car, which tends to show every streak.
She now has more than 2,800 followers.
Her videos have been so successful they are catapulting her to local stardom.
Walking down the street, there is always someone honking at her or calling out encouragement.
On Friday, she makes her standup comedy debut in the White Yardie Returns comedy show organised by Epic Entertainment. She will be performing alongside British comedian White Yardie, who was here last year, and popular Bermudians such as Jonathan Young, King Somner, and Mr Fotogenik.
“The people organising the show called me and said they needed one more performer, and they thought I was the missing piece,” Ms Todd said. “I was a little shocked and wasn't prepared for that.”
Her initial response was ‘not me!’
Her fans have been pushing her to do standup for a while, but she resisted because of stage fright.
“I can talk to three or four people, no problem, but to speak in front of big crowds is different,” Ms Todd said. “I always have a fear of making a mistake or doing something not good. Everything goes on social media, which can make or break you.”
Posting her own videos on social media did not bother her, because she made them by herself without a lot of people around.
“I never said oh, I'm gonna be on stage one day,” she said. “The White Yardie show gave me a push in the right direction.”
She accepted the offer.
“For this opportunity to come now, I said let’s bring it on,” she said. “I just have to make sure I don’t overthink it, and I keep my wits about myself.”
She is growing out of her public speaking phobia. She hosted the Onika Present’s Reminisce talent show at City Hall in Hamilton last month.
“It was on stage and I had to actually do some jokes,” Ms Todd said. “That was like my icebreaker.”
When she first took to the stage at City Hall for that show, she was a little awed to see the large crowd in front of her, but she got over it.
“There were a few hiccups through the show,” she said. “As I went out there for some sets I was not 100 per cent prepared. So I was walking out sometimes, not even knowing what to say. I had to roll with the punches.”
The experience was a good one that helped her feel more comfortable doing White Yardie Returns.
“I’ve grown a bit,” she said. “If things do not go well, then I can handle the backlash, and if there is awesomeness, I can handle that too.”
When word got out that she was going to be in the show, many people she knew started calling her with suggestions and ideas.
“They would say maybe you could use this story or maybe this,” she said. “It was hysterical.”
Ms Todd believes she has been funny since the day she came out of the womb.
In school, she was the class clown.
“It was not so much as to be disruptive,” she said. “If there is something funny going on, we are going to have a laugh about it.”
When you ask Ms Todd who is the funniest person she knows, she jokingly says: “Me!”
“Seriously, though, one of my idols is comedian Martin Lawrence,” she said. “At some point I would love to be able to meet him.”
She is nervous about the upcoming White Yardie Returns, but not to the point where she cannot sleep at night. She is trying to take everything in stride.
She is keeping quiet on the exact topics she will touch on.
“Let’s leave that for the night,” she said. “I don’t want to set any expectations. I feel like there is enough pressure as it is, just making my debut.”
Normally, she runs her videos past her friends and family, before she posts them, but she has not been able to do that with this show.
“I have a great support system,” she said. “My friends and family will usually critique what I am doing and tell me if I need to change something.”
In this situation, however, they will all be at White Yardie Returns.
“So I am not really giving them the heads up about what I will be talking about,” she said. “I want them to laugh. So I am going out on a limb with this one.”
She is not particularly concerned about what her family will say, if they figure into her humour.
“They will all be there in the audience,” she said.
To prepare, Ms Todd has been watching various clips on YouTube by comedians such as Kevin Hart and Chris Tucker.
White Yardie is a comedian who grew up in Jamaica, but moved to the United Kingdom as an adult. His comedy is largely about his background and Jamaican culture. Ms Todd is also a big fan of the Caribbean island.
“I just love everything about Jamaica,” she said. “The Jamaican people are wonderful. I just came back from a trip there. People there have a really great way of telling a story.”
In addition to comedy shows, her humour is also taking her into the world of commercials.
“That makes me feel good,” she said.
She did one for Mailboxes Ltd, and is working on another for a different company.
“I also do commercials to announce parties and other events coming up,” she said.
White Yardie Returns will be held on Friday at the Ruth Seaton James Auditorium at CedarBridge Academy in Devonshire from 8pm to 11.30pm. Tickets are $75 and are sold at www.epicbda.com.