‘Shoes’ star struts to Tampa

Liam Sullivan, the star and creator of the hit YouTube video “Shoes,” is trading in his camera for a tour bus and crossing the nation alongside comedian Margaret Cho, who visits Tampa later this month.

Most avid YouTube browsers have stumbled across Sullivan’s comedy short “Shoes.” The video follows the main character Kelly, who strangely resembles a cross-dressing Andy Dick, as she sings her way through a shoe-shopping spree.

Various characters — all dressed in crazy costumes resembling an ’80s-style music video — join Kelly in her search. Sullivan’s video has been viewed more than 20 million times and has spawned fanmade parodies.

“I thought it was hilarious,” said senior Christine Marquardt, who is majoring in marketing. “I immediately added it to my MySpace page.”

Liam’s big break was the result of a fan posting his video on YouTube.

“I didn’t know about YouTube until then,” Sullivan said. “I had no idea. I had my little Web site and my little show here in L.A.”

“Shoes” was ranked No. 7 for the top favorite comedy video of all time and No. 9 for the most viewed comedy video of all time, according to YouTube. Sullivan was surprised by the instant success.

“I had no idea that it would blow up like that,” he said. “I’m glad it did though. It’s really been a career booster.”

“Shoes” has been on YouTube for nearly two years and still gets comments from viewers who are seeing for the first time.

“It’s always there 24/7, so new people and new fans find it all the time. It’s great,” Sullivan said.

Bizarre video concepts and characters are the products of Sullivan’s imagination, he said, adding that he is a pretty strange guy who loves comedy and playing quirky characters.

Saturday Night Live inspired him while he was growing up in the late ’80s and early ’90s, he said, as well as off-the-wall comedy movies like Caddyshack.

For aspiring actors looking to get their big break — with a YouTube cult following or on the silver screen — Sullivan said it’s important for them to do what they think is funny. Acting is just a matter of getting a camera and going for it, he said.

Sullivan doesn’t shy away from taking on multiple roles — he’s the writer, editor and performer in all of his videos. He has also appeared in several films and television programs, such as 8 Simple Rules, Alias, Gilmore Girls, I Hate My 30s and The Convent.

His show in Tampa includes stand-up — as himself, not any of his characters — as well as a special live musical performance by Kelly. He will also show an unreleased video.

“It’s (the show) totally different and really weird — I hope they enjoy it,” he said.

The show starts at 8 p.m. on Sept. 25 at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.