As the heat settles into the teens and winter creeps closer, Mo the Comedian is looking forward to the final leg of his year-long ‘Coupla Cans’ tour – eponymously named after a popular catchphrase of his.
Hitting Manchester’s Grade-II listed O2 Apollo theatre this coming Friday 12th October, Gilligan is spectacularly aware of the grandeur of his tour’s biggest show. “Even though I’ve been in Manchester before, I can’t dwell on [the biggest audience]”, he so calmly assesses the performance in what he describes as his “second home”. Having performed at lower capacity venues over the years, there may be a chance that many occupying the new space aren’t quite as in-the-know as older fans.
Mo had worked in retail until as little as eighteen months ago, and after a stratospheric rise into mainstream comedy through Instagram skits, he’s found himself “waking up in the morning thinking… this is nuts”.
His ascendance is far from normal but definitely no fluke. “I’ve always dreamt about it… when it happens you’ve got to be ready for it!” says Gilligan, with such confidence and poise that you sense the impending climbs are more leisure than labour. His observational humour picks fun at the stereotypes of ‘geezers’ and myriad of Grime MCs in the world around him. The popularity that’s followed screams that Mo was built for “the age of the creative,” as he poetically put.
But not without fail. “I went to Edinburgh [Fringe Festival]. I done all that stuff that I thought I was meant to do… then I realised doing videos is how I gained my audience.” Make no mistake, the thirty-year-old is cognisant that he’s put in his 10,000 hours and destined to be here. But what’s striking is his humility amidst the success: his own headline tour, online social media following and forthcoming Channel 4 show (alongside the recurring Big Narstie show he co-hosts).
“I went on YouTube recently,” Mo cautions with a laugh “the worst thing you can do is type your name into YouTube or Twitter… I saw an American guy who did a reaction to my video.” He’s amazed, even after a Drake co-sign back in 2017; “I don’t ever realise that people from across the pond have heard who I am.”
It’s obvious that his grounding is the very reason for said success, as he looks forward to the fruitful year he’s about to cross into – directing his focus into his next foray into the TV world, solo.
“It’s nice to look around and see so many people getting opportunities… a lot of young people watching my stuff, thinking ‘maybe I can do that’.” Reflecting on the path he’s forged for others with his own journey, the self-entitled comedian is elated. Clearly no malice resides within Mo, allowing him to remain equal parts humorous and humble.
It would be impossible to not mention his love of trainers, a love to which several early Instagram posts were dedicated, next to early sketches. One slip on stage could be the end of his career. His antidote being the classic Air Max 1, the “go-to,” and apocalyptic choice of footwear: “if I could only have one trainer for the rest of my life then it’d have to be those,” Mo affirms.
Modesty even bleeds into his fashion: he can accept dirty Nikes. But, “when you get high-end creps, don’t let them touch the rain,” he jests. I’m not too sure he’s actually ever been to Manchester in that case.
Although there lies the comedian, therein is a very grounded, humble force who has honed his craft in preparation for this time. The stage is all his.
Make sure you catch Mo on his last stretch, beginning with Manchester in just two days!
Fri 12th Oct MANCHESTER, Apollo
Thurs 18th Oct BOURNEMOUTH, O2 Academy
Mon 22nd– Sat 27th Oct LONDON, Vaudeville Theatre
Mon 5th– Sat 10th Nov LONDON, Vaudeville Theatre