In Profile: Steve Williams
It was only five years ago that Rhod Gilbert, fresh from a Perrier Award nomination, bemoaned the fact that the comedy scene in his native Wales was all but non-existent. In that time, quite a few Welsh voices have emerged on the comedy scene, not least of all Steve Williams, who has appeared on TV shows such as Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and Russell Howard’s Good News.
"Wales is producing some wonderful verbal cavaliers – Rhod Gilbert, Lloyd Langford, Ellis James to name a few," says Williams. "That’s not a bad return for a country famed for high unemployment, drink related violence and bestiality." The latter is probably the most well-known Welsh contribution to comedy over the last few decades, with few conversations about Wales failing to mention the inhabitants', er, affection for livestock. So, how long does a gig normally last for Williams before he gets his first sheep-related heckle? "Sadly not long. Sometimes it can happen just after I’ve withdrawn from the poor animal. What a cruel world."
Williams has steadily been building up a reputation for himself on the comedy circuit over the last decade, mixing high energy ad-libbing with tightly written, no-nonsense comedy routines. A Fringe festival regular in previous years, he hasn't been back since his 2008 show, The Ultimate Worrier, although he assures us that he misses us. "Everyone misses Scotland. It’s the country that never leaves you. You carry it around in your heart like a kind of geographical angina.
"Scottish audiences are brilliant. In Glasgow I once had a guy in the audience ask me where he could find a brothel. In the weirdest put down I've ever used, I ended up giving him directions. A women in the front row tutted so I explained I only knew where the brothel was because I’d walked past it. She tutted again, folded her arms and said 'You idiot, there's one much closer than that!'"
His new show, Stand Up Story Teller Man, brings him back up North and he promises "just me and an audience having a laugh – a sort of daft mix of stand up and storytelling." Hopefully it will include his impression of a Welsh dolphin, which is so realistic that it's slightly creepy. Does he do any other regional animals? "I do a French Canadian giraffe, a German baboon with arthritis and a Geordie Camilla Parker Bowles."
There you have it: Stand Up Story Teller Man, cheaper and funnier than a trip to the zoo.