Cardiff Comedy Fest
Cardiff 's first independent international comedy festival takes place from Wednesday to Sunday this week, featuring 2009 Edinburgh Fringe previews from the hottest comedians in the country.
TheSprout had words with organiser Scott Fitzgerald. Read on.
The Cardiff Comedy Festival - what's all this then?
Well, Matt Drayton - the guy who also runs The Phoenix Club at O'Neill's - came up with the idea which initially I wasn't too keen on. To be honest I knew how costly it would be to run 13 shows in a week. But we got chatting about it and realised if Rhod Gilbert came onboard we might just have enough exposure to make it work. Matt's known Rhod for years and I actually compered a fundraising gig at Tremorfa Footbal Club for Matt and Rhod headlined. So as soon as we secured Rhod we secured a mixture of established acts, local acts and acts we think are a little different. I guess ultimately we want to end up with a comedy festival that grabs Cardiff by the... scruff of the neck, because let's face it we're a capital city and the people of Cardiff deserve one.
How long has it taken to put together, and how did you choose the acts?
It's based on a mix of names that comedy fans recognise like Wil Hodgson and Craig Campell, local talent looking for exposure like Matt Price, Mike Bubbins, The Plastic Seat Company etc, aaaaaand Rhod Gilbert. Rhod was the key. We started planning at the end of Febuary and secured all acts by May. We've begged, borrowed and pleaded for technical kit, publicity, man power - myself and a couple of the guys involved have worked in the theatre industry for years and would like to thank all the help we've gotten from the theatrical community in Cardiff. Couldn't have done it without you.
How hard is it to organise an event like this, and have you had any 'mares?
Bloody hell. I could go on for hours about building the stage, finding materials to do this, finding money from nowhere, creating the website, acts that say "yes" and then "no". Just finding the time around work to plan something like this is bad enough. I think it's as hard as you make it. We could've just booked the acts, set up some Facebook events and prayed people turned up which would've been easy, but our aim is to make this as professional an experience for both the acts and the punters as possible. We want people to feel like they're at a festival venue - like it's an event. So hopefully when we come back next year bigger and better, people will say "Yeah, I remember that - it was actually quite good!" Biggest nightmare has been a couple of acts pulling out this week. Thankfully, we've got backup.
Which comedians are you most looking forward to?
My personal favourite is Craig Campbell, a Canadian comic headlining the finale on the Sunday supported by a Welsh line-up. He's so underestimated; observational comedy as well as that costic slant on life if he's pushed. Genuinely unpredictable and genuinely funny. Also, The Plastic Seat Company are a local sketch group. They're opening the festival on Tuesday and I've been directing their Edinburgh show. They've got some truly excellent ideas and some close-to-the-bone stuff which is totally admirable when you're just starting out. Aaaaaand Matt Price. You have to see Matt on Wednesday to appreciate him. The complete art of stand-up comedy. One moment he has you crying, the next he has you hemorrhaging from the gut downwards. That man should win an award at Edinburgh this year. As well as that, everybody else.
What else can Cardiff comedy lovers look forward to after the festival?
Well, our regular night every other Sunday as Phoenix Comedy Club at O'Neill's takes a break until September when we'll return with plans of another club in cardiff, a quarterly massive name night, and plans for next year's festival which HAS to be bigger and better. The problem we have is that Cardiff is rammed with comedy lovers who don't know it yet. We have to let people know that it's here, it's quality, and if I have my way, here to stay.