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Britain's Comedy Capital is … Cardiff ?!

Britain's Comedy Capital is … Cardiff ?!

According to one of those nonsensical surveys commissioned by companise which lazy journalists pick up on to fill a slow news day, Cardiff people buy more comedy DVDs than anywhere else – at least according to Tesco’s online DVD sales.

Not that I’m an expert on Cardiff, despite having lived here for four years, but for a bit of fun, let’s speculate on why that is.

There’s hardly any good stand-up comedy venues in Cardiff

Seriously. There’s either the comedy barn (seriously, it’s far too huge a space for good comedy) that is Jongleurs – mostly populated by pissed young teenage students who cant’ wait for the comedy to end so the tables can be cleared, and they can start drinking their Smirnoff Vodka Ices and start fights.

The other “posh” alternative is The Glee Club, down Cardiff Bay. Which is a tad more intimate – the right size IMHO – but is unfortunately mostly populated by accountants or secretaries on their annual yearly outing.

There is the occasional gig at The Wharf down Cardiff Bay, but it’s a real bugger to get to if you don’t have a car, which means you have to enjoy the comedy sober. Plus the comedians are literally performing in the bar where the dancefloor usually is, so it doesn’t have good seating or the right comedy atmosphere.

Last but by no means least, there’s the occasional outing of the Poncho Comedy Club in Chapter – the closest thing Cardiff has to an open mic night. But given that Chapter is mostly populated by self-obsessed artists who have no idea what sunshine is unless it’s behind their bottom, the comedy is of a similar mostly-miss nature.

One guy clambered on “stage” – ie in front of some brown chairs – and talked for 10 minutes about his divorce to not a single laugh, to the point when I thought he’d thought it was a therapy night. Indeed, the only person I laughed with was a guy called Steven Green who recreated the beginning of Duel using a toy truck and a car. And I used to work with him.

The comedy atmopshere of Poncho is not helped by the fact it’s basically in a sterile office room above the bar – I once had a dreary all-day work meeting in that room. Also, the easy access to consumer electronics means that every comedian wants to film their own performance – which means a well-lit room. And it’s very hard to laugh when you’re in a small room and know that if you do laugh, not only will everyone spot it’s you but you’ll hear the simultaneous whirr of zoom lenses closing in to see your momentary lapse of judgement. Oh and the room was mostly filled with comedians and their mates – but that’s a problem with most open-mic nights.

There’s not much to laugh about in Cardiff

Sure, there’s the political ineptness of the politics of Cardiff, but the trouble is Cardiff doesn’t really have a sense of humour about itself. On a weekend night, the streets are mostly filled with the Valley Commandoes who swarm down in their 100s, get pissed, start fights with anyone, and then go back up to the valleys in taxis that they puke in. Everyone seems too serious and unwilling to acknowledge, let alone laugh at the fact that they are not the be-all of the universe. They take themselves *way* too seriously, in other words.

Where else would you get a huge argument about where you sit in a debating chamber?

1 Comment

  • Anna Zeuner

    I'm writing an article about open mic nights in Cardiff at the moment, and would really like to get hold of a comedian (to get away from the typical acoustic guitar duet or band-style open mic!) who frequents comedy open mic nights – you mentioned your friend Steven Green – do you have an email address for him so I could ask him about his experiences and advice? Or indeed do you know of anyone else who has performed at open mic nights. Would be really grateful for your help if you can. Anna.

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