Despite being almost unpronounceable to anyone without a GCSE in Welsh Machynlleth Comedy Festival has emerged a highlight of the summer comedy calendar.
Taking place each May Bank Holiday in the little town of Machynlleth in the centre of Wales, the Festival has attracted some big names over the years (Stewart Lee, Jon Richardson, Josie Long etc) and encouraged experimentation and new comedy experiences in venues including sweet shops and sheds.
It’s an approach that has gained praise from acts, audiences and critics as a comedy festival that cares about comedy.
As the organisers (including comic Henry Widdicombe) say on their website: ‘When we first talked about starting Machynlleth Comedy Festival above of all we wanted to create somewhere where people came to have fun, and get away from it all
‘It was all about taking a different approach with an aim of creating a spirit of experimentation and intimacy.’
The line-up for 2014 is as strong as ever, and we’d happily recommend everyone in attendance.
But for editorial convenience here’s our 15 shows to look out for at Machynlleth Comedy Festival.
Emerging as one of those names that every comedian recommends, Alistair stormed our Laugh Out London night in Camden last year with some well-pitched gripes. His show description promise ‘an hour of moaning about everything he thinks is wrong with the world’. We look forward to it.
Owain Glyndwr Centre, Sat May 3rd, 1pm, £6
Nominated for best newcomer at the Edinburgh Festival in 2012 for a masterful show of imagination and interactivity, Ben has stayed out of the spotlight to hone some new material that looks set to cement his place as a truly original comedian.
Owain Glyndwr Centre, Sat May 3rd, 4pm, £6
One of our favourite shows at the last Edinburgh Festival Ben Partridge introduces an audience to one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Learn all about Jeff’s life and loves from the man himself.
Machynlleth Bowling Club, Sat May 3rd, 5.30pm, £7
With the magnificent A Bic For Her, Bridget Christie was the comedian of 2013, taking feminism into the artistic mainstream and winning praise from all aspects of the media. She’s now working on a new hour, for which she says to ‘lower your expectations’. We have confidence though.
Y Plas, Sat May 3rd, 4pm, £7
Ellie White and Natasia Demetriou
We know Natasia well from her work with the surreal sketch group Oyster Eyes and with her character comic brother Jamie, and we’re very excited to see a solo performance. Ellie White gained much praise for her character-based show at the last Fringe too. Here, they split an hour to try new, presumably very unusual, ideas.
Owain Glyndwr Centre, Fri May 2nd, 6pm, £6
The all-star sketch double-act that features Tim Key and Tom Basden. What more encouragement do you need to see? They promise “an inefficient and bleak mix of comedy, theatre, music, props, tusseling, music and material”. We’re sold.
Y Tabernacl, Sun May 4th, 8.30pm, £10
Another one of those all-star comic troupes, this time featuring Jon Richardson, Lloyd Langford and Dan Atkinson. Machynlleth sees the comics perofm and improvised show about the perils of making snap judgements.
Y Plas, Sat May 3rd, 11.30pm, £6
Holly has been a Laugh Out London favourite for a long, long time, with an energy, imagination and insanity that few performers can match. Her fans include the Mighty Boosh, Harry Hilly and Eddie Izzard. Find out why in this hour in which Holly ditches the characters and dares to reveal herself.
Owain Glyndwr Centre, Sat May 3rd, 8.30pm, £7
As the teasing Chastity Butterworth, Gemma Whelan has developed one of the most memorable chracters currently on the circuit, toying with risqué jokes and wordplay under delightful pomposity. She’s an acclaimed actress too, featuring in that Game of Thrones on the telly and that One Man Two Guvnors not on the telly.
Y Plas, Sat May 3rd, 2.30pm, £6
Good Luck Mr Gorsky
The man behind Sight Gags For Perverts – our favourite show of the Edinburgh Fringe 2013. And one of our favourite UK acts in recent years. John Kearns is now getting the acclaim he has long deserved. And we think he’s getting even better.
Owain Glyndwr Centre, Sun May 4th, 1pm, £6
Lolly Adefope And Jonny Pelham
Two young comics that have been tipped by everyone working in the comedy industry. Embarrassingly, we’ve yet to see either. However, we do trust the voices of everyone working in the comedy industry.
Owain Glyndwr Centre, Fri May 2nd, 10.30pm, £6
Another long-time favourite of Laugh Out London, Nathaniel brings his second full-length show to Machynlleth. Expect it to feature pop culture niches such as Sugar Puffs and Free Willy.
Royal House, Sat May 3rd, 4pm, £6
Another Fringe success, Rachel is a performance artists who took to stand-up wearing a wolf costume and talking about the mafia. This show is more than just an hour of gags, instead it’s an analysis of what comedy means and the compulsion to be funny.
Owain Glyndwr Centre, Sat May 3rd, 2.30pm, £8
Sheeps member Liam Williams may have found solo success at the Fringe last year, receiving a nomination for Best Newcomer, but this sketch group remain an ongoing and exciting concern. They count Daniel Kitson among their fans and are trying out a work-in-progress hour.
Machynlleth Bowling Club, Sat May 3rd, 4pm, £7
Neenan has found comedy success already with The Gentlemen of Leisure (alongside fellow Mach performer Nish Kumar) and as a writer for Radio 4. Now he’s going it alone with a ‘hilariously chilling’ ghost story about an accountants’ assistant experience investigating the sinister goings on of Lopham House.
Rag and Bone, Sun May 4th, 8.30pm, £6