Aberystwyth Comedy Festival returns to the town for a second year, and I for one am over the moon. Any excuse to return to my hometown. And what an excuse. Around 50 of the best UK-based comedians will descend on this seafront university town and I get to stay at my parents’ house, with all the perks that brings with it. We’re talking three back-to-back days of comedy, so I’ll require some R&R.
I spent three weeks at the Edinburgh Fringe this year and tried to fit in as many shows as possible. But you can never see everything, so near the end of August I would find myself prioritising shows to see based on whether I’d be able to catch them in Aberystwyth in the autumn. And now is my chance, and anyone else who’s experienced comedy FOMO (fear of missing out) for the last few months.
The organisers’ vision for the festival is to provide a space for acts to perform polished shows following ‘work in progress’ slots at Machynlleth Comedy Festival in the spring, and a run at the Edinburgh Fringe over the summer. This year the festival is already growing and expanding its reach from along the seafront, through the town and up onto the Aberystwyth University campus.
Some of the acts not to miss include Jordan Brookes, winner of the 2019 Edinburgh Comedy Award; Spencer Jones, The Delightful Sausage and Jessica Fostekew who were all 2019 Edinburgh Comedy Award nominees; and Amusical, who recently featured in an hour special on Comedy Central. There are also four of Wales’ greatest exports, Kiri Pritchard-McLean, Elis James, Tudur Owen and Mike Bubbins, as well as other big household names such as Mark Watson.
In between shows, the possibilities for socialising are endless. Over the last ten years, Aberystwyth’s food and drink scene has really matured and my personal favourites are: Medina - the freshest of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes; Baravin - great food but also, in my opinion, the best cocktails in town; Ultracomida - amazing wines and tapas and the most moreish Tarta de Santiago; Gwesty Cymru - who pride themselves in serving the best of Welsh produce; and Ceredigion Museum - a great option for brunch and free entry to the exhibitions giving you a taste of Ceredigion and Aberystwyth history.
But whatever you do or whichever shows you see, you won’t be disappointed. And if I may include one last personal recommendation? On the Sunday night, a Welsh translation gig headlined by Elis James is one not to be missed. You don’t need to understand a word of Welsh, in fact, the less you understand the better. You will be given a headset and will witness Welsh language comedy performed by Welsh comedians and simultaneously translated into English by other comedians. Complete chaos but a heck of a lot of fun.