Chippenham comedy talents entertain during second hit festival

This Is Wiltshire: Stand-up Marc Burrows, organiser Wil Hodgson and Edinburgh Festival founder Peter Buckley Hill Stand-up Marc Burrows, organiser Wil Hodgson and Edinburgh Festival founder Peter Buckley Hill

Chippenham was home to some of the best comedians on the circuit at the weekend.

Chippenham’s second comedy festival sold more than 500 tickets, with many acts such as Richard Herring selling out.

It was held in the barn at The Old Road Tavern, which is developing a reputation for its monthly comedy nights.

Acts such as Caimh McDonnell and Juliet Myers tested out their new shows ahead of the Edinburgh Fringe, while Wil Hodgson performed his already acclaimed Fringe show Straight Outta Chippenham! in the town for the first time.

His experiences of growing up outside of the mainstream had a full house in stitches.

As festival organiser, Mr Hodgson hand-picked all the acts according to his left field tastes. He first met many of them when sharing bills at the Fringe, including Andrew O’Neill who said: “I had bright red hair at the time and Wil had a pink Mohican. He was concerned about where he was going to get hair dye. I said, ‘if you can get it in Chippenham you’ll be all right in Edinburgh’.”

A natural storyteller and accomplished guitarist, Mr O’Neill took to the stage with his electric guitar to share his encyclopaedic knowledge of the history of heavy metal.

After seeing the show Gabby Flexer, 25, of The Causeway, said: “I wasn’t really a metal fan before but now I’m going to slash some amps.

“It was both funny and informative. What a great weekend, a good variety.”

Mr O’Neill said: “It was getting harder and harder not to talk about metal in my shows, until it felt like I was pushing two planets away from each other. I wrote this show with my mum in mind.”

Despite leaning on a crutch – unfortunate in the stand-up business – feminist leftie Kate Smurthwaite took a swing at her ideological opponents.

Six of the 16 acts were women, but Mr Hodgson said this was not a conscious decision. “Clubs have this unwritten rule of what percentage can be women but I don’t go in for that nonsense, I just go for good comics,” he said.

Festival-goer Andy Dixon, 32, of The Paddocks, said: “Despite many of the acts having appeared on TV before, it was refreshing to see some genuinely original comedy that was engaging and didn’t rely on cheap, predictable gags.”

Tim Burge, 41, a museum officer at Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, said: “It’s great to see the festival getting bigger.”

The next comedy night at the Old Road is Duncan Oakley on Sunday, July 6.

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