Mach Comedy Fest 2014 review

May 6, 2014, Article by Richard in Reviews, Theatre & Comedy

You know, Carlsberg don’t do festivals – and thank God, because it would probably be flat, and you’d only go there because Estrella Fest was sold out and the only other option was LADitude (sponsored by Carling). Luckily, Machynlleth’s festival (or Mach Comedy Fest, now into its fifth year) is well worth the trip.

The beauty of the festival, and I hope this isn’t to be its undoing as it’s getting more and more coverage, is how intimate it all is. You can get from each venue in ten minutes on foot, from the biggest – the Tabernacle (a former chapel with a capacity of around 300) – to Royal House (a tiny medieval cottage). When you’re not watching the comedy,  you can head over to the big tent at Y Plas and slurp your way through their selection of locally brewed Welsh ales. ‘Two pints of Smelly Wizard’s Knee and a half of Badger’s Dilemma, please.’

In the big tent with a pint of Badger's Dilema

In the big tent with a pint of Badger’s Dilemma

If you want to stay slightly outside the village (i.e. you forgot to book somewhere until there was only a few months left to find something oh for God’s sake why must things be so hard), I heartily recommend the Centre For Alternative Technology . ‘Shit and wind, the locals call it,’ our slightly glum taxi driver told us as we weaved up the b-road. Well that was music to this particular vegetarian’s protein-deficient ears, and I was glad I packed my patented muesli knitting needles made from locally sourced bark. The walls of this place are genuinely made from hemp. But, more importantly, the staff are lovely, the rooms are nice, and there are views of the beautiful countryside. A morning ramble into the village was a great way to kick off the day.

Nice, eh?

Nice, eh?

As for the comedy itself, well it was all rather bloody good. We were gutted to miss out on a number of shows that were all on at the same time, but here are our highlights of what we saw:

Bridget Christie showed exactly why she won last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award with her tremendous show ‘A Bic For Her’. Her withering contempt for sexism, from ridiculous products to ridiculous former racing drivers, is delivered with fantastic energy and is thought-provoking whilst consistently hitting home with beautifully crafted gags.

Sheeps / Liam Williams

This was a superb and original show from a highly talented trio. The conceit is that they (Liam, Jonno and Al) have mistakenly booked themselves to play Wembley stadium, despite only having one sketch. In the hour-show they brilliantly deconstruct this one skit, performing it in a variety of different ways as their characters’ conflicting motives start to appear. Go and see them if you get the chance – Edinburgh will be a must. In the aforementioned Royal House, Liam Williams went solo and treated us to his work-in-progress show. Liam was my highlight of Edinburgh last year, and once polished this will undoubtedly be another glorious hour of existential angst. Painfully honest tends to be a cliched and crass way to describe this kind of confessional comedy, but sitting so close to Williams as he poured his heart out (stopping only for a swig of lager or to break into his hilarious ‘play’ about capitalism), it really did feel like some sort of therapy session. He even mentions Annie Hall for gawd’s sake. Watch this, you’ll see what I mean. He is ace.

Simon Munnery

As a fully paid up member of the comedy nerds’ society, it’s a bit of a crime that I’ve never seen Simon Munnery before. And what a fool I have been. His ‘Fylm School’ is inventive, surreal and very, very funny. Munnery spends the whole show sat in the audience with a projector, creating bizarre little sketches and songs using cardboard cutouts and a clever use of camera angles. It’s slightly hard to explain, so we’ll just tell you to go and the few remaining shows he’s doing.


Watching Josie Long and Tim Key mucking around by a cashpoint and nearly working up the courage to say hello. Next year, dammit.


The person who shouted out slightly needlessly at Bridget Christie’s show and the woman who laughed like a seagull singing Slipknot during Simon Munnery.

See you next year, Mach!