This weekend Jordan Brookes will be in esteemed company.
Taking part in this year’s Machynlleth Comedy Festival, the winner of the Welsh Unsigned Stand Up Award 2012 will perform alongside such leading comedy names as Stewart Lee, Mark Thomas, Sarah Millican and Josh Widdicombe.
The festival now in its fourth year and curated by Henry Widdicombe, it brings together a stunning array of comedic talent to the picturesque Mid Wales town.
For Brookes, it offers the opportunity to push ahead with what has been an exciting 12 months since picking up his title.
Taking him back to the scene of his triumph at The Glee Club in Cardiff, the comic recalls he was confident of his chances.
“Not out of any arrogance, just because I’d made the final the previous year,” he points out. “And I felt like my performances had become a lot more consistent. So I guess I thought if I was able to make the final a second time it would mean my chances were fairly good.
“I thought it went well. I’m always kicking myself at little bits and pieces which could have gone better or I should have delivered in a different way, but I have a tendency to think if something has gone well I tend to pull a grumpy face anyway and neurotically assess how I’ve done. But I felt like I had done myself proud which is all you can hope for.”
So how did he feel when it was revealed he was the winner?
“I had a glass of wine and I immediately regretted that because it kind of dulled my experience of it,” he laughs. “I became worried that I could feel my brain cells eroding with every sip, and so I immediately started to intensely experience things, take in everything as much as possible and store new memories. I just tried to take it all in and turn it into an event in my mind.”
The 27-year-old Cardiff University graduate says the award has allowed him to push his comedy career on.
“It has allowed me to travel about more and get more gigs outside South Wales. It also flagged my name up to people who potentially otherwise might not have responded to my e-mails. So consequently I got more gigs out of it and more opportunities.
“I was invited to be on the BBC Wales news quiz What’s The Story? and I’ve made regular appearances on BBC Radio Wales on Sundays to discuss news stories. I’m pleased with how that’s been going.
“When I won, I thought it might fuel some momentum to go on and win more competitions but I ended up having some horrendous experiences in London with some shoddily run competitions, so it’s a testament to how well WUSA is run.”
It’s also testament to the rude health of the Welsh comedy scene that Brookes will appear alongside WUSA 2011 winner Matt Rees and promising newcomer Charlie Webster on a triple-headed bill of locally sourced comedy excellence at the Machynlleth Comedy Festival tomorrow night.
Brookes says he’s seen the scene in Wales grow inexorably in the last few years.
“When I first started there were only a couple of nights and they weren’t particularly well attended. Then a lot of us came through at the same time and everyone had as much interest as the other and wanted to start new nights and really develop as comedians. What’s happened is a nice close-knit scene that isn’t cliquey and alienating but is very inclusive. There are now enough people around who are enthusiastic to want to run clubs properly and successfully.”
Brookes is also gaining something of a reputation as promoter, staging two nights himself – Vagabond at Gwdihw in Cardiff and Comedy In The Loft at the Moon Club in Cardiff, which he co-promotes with Henry Widdicombe.
“Promoting is something I’d really like to get into. I’ve learned so much almost purely intuitively and I’ve accidentally learned how to run a good night. I feel like I’m learning all the time.
“Vagabond has been running for more than a year and after six months we started to charge people an entry fee to make audiences focus a little more.
“It’s a really good room but it’s often not the most ideal room when you’ve got punters coming in who aren’t interested in comedy lurking at the back and talking. So if you’re suddenly forcing them to financially commit to staying in that room, they tend to really focus on the comedy or decide to go elsewhere.
“It’s been going really well and we’ve been slowly trying to turn it into a semi-pro night where we’ll have a few local acts on and a paid headliner doing an extended set.
“Comedy Storage In The Loft is a really nice night and we’ve been bringing acts to the city that wouldn’t ordinarily consider coming to Cardiff and subsequently they’ve been performing to really great enthusiastic audiences so I’d love to continue to develop that.”
Brookes is now looking forward to his Machynlleth appearance and spreading his comedy net far and wide.
“I’ve been building my set up towards Machynlleth. I’d also love to play at the Edinburgh Festival maybe not this year but definitely next year and I just want to continue to travel around and develop as a comedian.”
Jordan Brookes appears at the Owain Glyndwr Centre, Machynlleth tomorrow at 1pm. The festival runs from tonight until Sunday. For full details, visit www.machcomedyfest.co.u
Who? Sarah Millican
What? The TV favourite is visiting the festival with a preview of her new tour show. She will bring jokes, if you bring laughs. It’ll be rough and ready but very fun.
Where? Machynlleth Bowling Club
When? Tomorrow, 8.50pm Sunday, 7.30pm
Who? David O’Doherty
What? The leftfield Irish genius presents a show about trying to cheer yourself up.
Where? Y Tabernacl
When? Sunday, 7.30pm
Who? Lloyd Langford
What? The Welsh comic’s new show will contain jokes about rum, blood and helicopters.
Where? Y Plas
When? Saturday, 8.50pm
Who? Mike Bubbins
What? The Cardiff comedy colossus returns with a show about obsession. More accurately, the difference between obsession, and healthy interest in Elvis Presley.
Where? Machynlleth Rugby Club
When? Sunday, 4.30pm
Who? Tony Law
What? Join Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee and Chortle Award winner as he works through ideas for his new show.
Where? Machynlleth Bowling Club
When? Sunday, 9pm
Who? Simon Munnery
What? Experimenting with a tiny camera and big screen, Munnery offers up a mix of visual sketches, handcrafted animation, music and stand-up.
Where? Y Tabernacl
When? Sunday, 5.45pm