Live : Jonny WilliamsFOCUS Wales I Wrexham I Fri 11 May 2018
Bangor comedian Jonny Williams appeared at this year's FOCUS Wales in a gig held in a giant tepee on Wrexham's Queens Square. Appropriately, for what is still predominantly seen as a music festival, the rain was drumming out incessant rhythms on the tent canvas as he took to the stage.
I seem to run in to him in odd, slightly surreal settings - four weeks before the FOCUS Wales date we'd met to talk, spending an hour sat at a window table in a bar on Conwy's High Street. For the whole time we'd looked out on a woman dressed as a jester making balloon animals, who was stood next to a spindly tree that wears a multi-coloured woolly jumper over its trunk whatever the weather.
Over coffee we'd caught up on what he had been up to since we last spoke - his viral Euro 2016 song (500,000 rapid views for a comic piece about Wales' football renaissance - "I was playing a few chords and singing things to make Ieuan laugh .... the next thing the Daily Post are ringing."), and new music podcast.
Off stage Williams is intelligent, thoughtful and affable, with wide ranging interests. On stage, a regular North Wales performer, he is a very good, experienced comedian and compère - but this FOCUS Wales gig was the best I have seen him.
Introduced by host/headliner Tudur Owen as one of his favourite acts, Williams started with some suitably dry, laconic spontaneous observations before becoming more fluid as the audience responded. His style is matter-of-fact, seamlessly conversational and supposedly autobiographical, but underpinned by a rhythm to the humour that is irresistibly funny. He also quickly tangents to darker and more scatological jokes when you least expect it.
Mid-set he built a routine around the logical errors in colloquial phrases (starting with Wigan's "He'd steal the sh*t from your arse") - it's stupid and clever at the same time, and suddenly hilarious because of it.
The audience loved his set, on the phone recording I made of it you can hear the rolling waves of laughter as he delivers the routine's punchlines, moments of mass uproar, and more isolated but uncontrollable guffaws at some of the nearer the knuckle jokes.
When I sat talking to Williams a month before the gig he was looking forwards to FOCUS Wales - not just for his own stage time, but because he loves music as much as comedy. His successful podcast features Welsh and international bands just like the festival he was due to appear at. He started it as he was often distracted at home by the demands of a young toddler, and wanted to make a determined effort to reconnect to new music.
The aim was simple, as he outlined, "I thought if I chose a really good group of songs as a collection, as a recommendation, then it might have some impact.... so it is made up of just what I find by listening, and what I am happy to fight for." Ten editions in, he has built an audience with a straight forward approach to presenting exciting new bands.
You get the sense the podcast is driven solely by a perpetual curious interest in music, matching his fascination with the way comedy works. The degree of commitment he brings to both is important - and for his stand-up means that in a comedy club, or in a wigwam, Jonny Williams is compelling to watch.
Jonny Williams can be found on Twitter as himself - where he is frequently laugh out loud funny - and in the guise of his new music project - Demo Podcast, which can also be found to download on iTunes.