Live : Kill for a Seat : Tudur Owen02.06.17 : Venue Cymru, Llandudno
The Orme Suite is a semi-basement under Venue Cymru with a long bar and makeshift stage; its low ceiling and numerous pillars, each with the proportions of a man you'd want at the back of a scrum, ensure you sense the weight of the building above as you take your seat. There is always a good crowd at this monthly comedy club, but this evening there were rows of extra seats at the back, filled with people who had travelled to see the main man.
For Tudur Owen this was a local headline show - forty minutes of new and old material delivered with the grace of an easy raconteur, but laced with the genuine devilment that marks him as a politer, not too distant cousin of Tommy Tiernan; and crucially, whatever detail distinguishes him stylistically from Tiernan, there are just as many laughs. BAFTA recognition, an enduring Welsh media career and a recent appearance on the Now Show have not altered the conviction that on stage he is not performing but instead just talking to an audience of several hundred of his closest friends.
The approach works - this is comedy that takes you immediately to a mentally playful place, and keeps you there distracted, rapt and happy for the duration. At Venue Cymru his set was loosely themed around language, culture and aging; threaded through with a strong sense of Tudur's Anglesey roots, a reverence for Welsh community life, and a willingness to toy with its contradictions - elements all demonstrated in a (literally) gritty story about a lap dance club in Holyhead. The most heart warming part of the show came when he talked about how six degrees of separation is irrelevant in Wales - he asserted that there is never more than one, and to prove it picked someone at random from the crowd, confirming the hypothesis by finding a mutual acquaintance in ten seconds flat.
I have seen Tudur perform in Welsh - with limited understanding but just the physicality of his expressions and the audience reaction it was still completely engaging. In English I can catch the flow of astute observations framed in vivid, hilarious stories - but distill it down to an essence and in either language he is just a very, very funny man; humour with a strong sense of place maybe, but absolutely and definitively deserving of much wider recognition.
Amongst a whole week of shows Tudur Owen is performing a preview of his 2017 Edinburgh Show' 'Normal Wear & Tear', for Standup at the Seaside, Colwyn Bay on Wednesday June 21st - £7 only - Details here.