BBC Radio 4

    Machynlleth Comedy Festival

    Executive Producer, Promotions

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    Machynlleth's Hollywood-style sign

    A year ago Radio 4 Extra's Comedy Club went to the Machynlleth Comedy Festival, a small festival with a stellar line up on the outskirts of Snowdonia National Park. We were promised something out of the ordinary and we weren't disappointed. A weekend of experimental and intimate comedy performed in spaces where you'd least expect it.


    Arthur Smith was smitten. We all were. The locals welcomed us with open arms, the scenery was lush and there was a sense of fun and mischief that is perhaps lacking across the increasingly corporate comedy festivals of other towns and cities.

    Arthur Smith

    The Comedy Club at the West Coast tent




    Technically it was challenging; Driving down the A458 has a touch of the WRC about it and the Wi-Fi in our hotel was intermittent at best, meaning we were delivering our interviews dangerously close to the transmission time (in 4 Extra terms at least...). But as soon as we left we knew we wanted to go back this year.

    Unfortunately, since last year's festival Machynlleth has been in the news for different reasons and when it came to light that the court case would be starting this week, we questioned if it would be appropriate for us to cover a Comedy festival in Machynlleth at this time. However, Henry Widdicombe, the organiser of the festival, has worked closely with representatives from the community over the last 6 months...

    "We wanted to ensure that the town wanted the comedy festival to take place in the town this year, and the continued support we've felt locally for the event has been overwhelming. The town of Machynlleth is such a special place and we feel extremely proud to be part of that wonderful community and that they've taken the festival to their hearts. The town is proud to host the comedy festival, and that is something that is extremely important to us."

    We also discussed the issue with our colleagues at Radio Wales who we worked with last year and we both came to the same conclusion; If the town want the festival to happen, we want to be there to support it.

    The question then became 'how are we going to top last year's life drawing class and boat trip?'

    Life Drawing Class:

    Arthur Smith and Tom Parry (Pappy's Fun Club) at Machynlleth's comedy life-drawing class

    Boat Trip:

    Arthur Smith hosts a comedy gig in a shed on a beach at Machynlleth Comedy Festival.

    We've been promised some intimate comedy gigs in sheds, an event in a sweet shop and a trip on a steam train. We'll also be recording a special Comedy Club for Saturday night, presented by Isy Suttie, in front of an audience at Machynlleth Bowling Club. The same venue will also play host to a stand-up show featuring Pappy's and Lloyd Langford amongst others. There'll be two versions of the programme, one on Radio Wales at 9.30pm on Saturday and one on 4 Extra on Monday just after 11pm.

    I hope that over the course of the weekend we'll be able to convey the warmth of the people in the town and the infectious sense of fun that the festival delivers. Just as long as the hotel Wi-Fi holds up...

    The BBC Radio Wales Machynlleth Comedy Festival Showcase will be broadcast on Radio Wales at 9.30pm on Saturday 4 May, and Radio 4 Extra's Comedy Club at Machynlleth on 4 Extra starting on Friday 3 May.


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