Having seen Live at the Apollo succeed over five seasons with veteran comedians, the BBC shone the light on the up and coming. Choosing Michael McIntyre to front it was inspired. He can simply say hello and people laugh and his arena shows consistently sell out. So the front man and the stage was set; now all they needed was the talent.
Finding the talent would turn out to be the easy bit. The United Kingdom has a rich stand up comedy circuit. Clubs like The Glee Club, Jongleurs and the Comedy Store provide weekly shows. Comedy is big business. Comedians like Kevin Bridges, Tom Stade, Mick Ferry and Andrew Lawrence all got a slot. And the effect on their careers has been fantastic. On the back of the show, these comedians had gone from stuffy clubs to arenas and concert halls.
The success of the Comedy Roadshow and Live at the Apollo has helped the clubs too. The Glee Club’s are consistently sold out and packed to the rafters. Gone are the days of stand up comedy being a specialist and out of reach event. It’s seen as a night out now. Just as you’d go to a nightclub, people go to comedy clubs. Stag and hen parties come in their dozens to see “him off the telly”.
Interest in comedy has stretched to new comedy festivals. Last summer, Cardiff hosted a ten day event culminating in the gala night at St. David’s hall showcasing the best of local and international talent. It also gave the stage to Taylor Glenn, the winner of the Cardiff unsigned stand up competition. The festival was a huge success, the closing night practically a sell out. The interest in stand up comedy is at an all time high and it seems Cardiff is at the front of it.
Open mic nights such as Drones, panel shows such as Panel 9 From Outer Space and sketch shows such as Dirtbox have provided a platform for up and coming comedians to perform on a weekly basis. They have a chance to go out there and perform for an interested public. Excitingly, a lot of these comedians have made their way onto mainstream stages. Taylor Glenn, as previously mentioned, and the Plastic Seat Company have both played the Glee club. Mike Bubbins has established himself as circuit comedian. The hard work is paying off; Cardiff is a thriving comedy city.
With tour shows galore coming to town plus the Glee club opening as usual, comedy in Cardiff is set to thrive. Recently, a pilot was filmed at the Glee club which promises to be highly original and highly hilarious. I think this only shows what the perception of Cardiff as a comedy city is.