Live : 4 Good Comedians : Tudur Owen / George Rigden / Paul James (MC) / Jeremy Flynn17.06.16 : Blue Sky Cafe, Bangor
I misplaced the Blue Sky Cafe some time ago when looking for it and in my mental geography had it walled off as somewhere I just couldn't find - but this time there was the obvious sign on Bangor High Street, just up a short alley and some steps and I was in a charming room with a bar and an ad hoc stage area. The room had a quickening murmur of expectation and not a single empty seat, which is no surprise as you get what it says on the tin at this (usually) bi monthly club - all the acts were at the very least good.
Proceedings started with the MC, South Walian Paul James, who has an affable style, sharp material and handles an audience well. James skillfully readied the crowd for the opener, Bristolian George Rigden, who arrived on stage in his England Shirt with only an acoustic guitar as a shield from the reaction his confrontational start provoked; but his quirky and unpredictable song and character based comedy soon had the room enthralled and laughing, sometimes nervously, with him. An excellent beginning.
In the middle section Jeremy Flynn had maybe ten minutes to shine, and he did. With a set based around the quirks of R. Kelly - both recorded and autobiographical - he used his short stage time to make an impact. Detailed, illustrated, and very funny indeed.
A short break and there was palpable anticipation for Tudur Owen and his Edinburgh Fringe Preview.
Every June and July there are comedians in clubs frantically testing and iterating their Edinburgh Fringe material - and to be more than fair it is not always audience-ready, but Tudur took the stage with all the confidence of a man who knows what he wants to say, is on his home turf and has two of his sisters sat in the front row to sort out any trouble. The theme of his Fringe show, 'THE LL FACTOR', is Wales, its history and culture. Out of the traps his initial story was about the audience reaction when he first started performing, and the punchline was an instant slam dunk.
He worked through an energised, eclectic set - from start to finish well structured and paced, exceptionally funny, with the high point the long piece about the migratory journey the Celts made to to settle in Wales, complete with the repeated, strained semi-gurned facial expression of those leading the journey. Droll one minute and raucous the next, throughout there were humourous voices, pointed imitations, and a persistent gentle poking of fun at the traditions and ways that surround him whilst celebrating them too - observational comedy but with added heft from a real sense of place.
Returning at the end to established material Tudur finished with a familiar story, but with so many diversions and deconstructions that by the time the punchline arrived it was dizzying, and the joke as fresh as when first heard.
An evening closed with a completely engaging set from an exceptionally accomplished comedian, which was much more than a work in progress - instead a polished, clever, articulate and very, very funny show about being Welsh - in an excellent comedy club, with three other (very) good comedians, just as it says on the posters.