Dream Gig: Morgan Rees

Welsh wonder Morgan Rees presents an eclectic lineup for this month's Dream Gig

Feature by Morgan Rees | 03 May 2024
  • Morgan Rees' Dream Gig - Illustration

Cards on the table, I’m terrible at choosing 'the best' of anything – I’m more of a compilation guy: I’d be rubbish at giving you the Top 40, but I’d smash a Now That’s What I Call Comedy

What about the festival that had to shut early because of a horrific heckler, who was four years old? Or the gig where the whole front row were on ventilators? Or maybe, the one which left me with a year’s supply of custard?

But really, my favourite gig was last August at Cardiff Glee Club. It was a convergence of firsts: my first time closing at an iconic comedy club; the first time my parents watched me perform; the first time my stepdad turned 50.

Comedy comes from pain, yet to my shame, I have the most loving and supportive family a queer little Welsh comedian could ask for. When I went to university to study mathematics, thinking of becoming an investment banker, my parents urged me to drop out and go to drama school. A reverse Billy Elliot. To this day, I reckon I’m the only person that’s ever yelled at their parents; “Stop telling me to follow my dreams!”

So this gig needed to go well. Not just because I wanted to make them proud, but because I wanted to prove to them I wasn’t wasting my time. I had been doing comedy for eight years, almost all of my 20s, so I’d missed those milestones of making new friends at a 3am afterparty in a stranger’s kitchen, travelling around the world one all-inclusive hotel at a time, and making more mistakes than memories. Instead, I’d chosen to tell jokes in rooms above pubs, spend more time in my car than in any meaningful relationship, and eat late night Maccies (my only happy meals). 

To get my parents in the laughing mood, I took them day-drinking before the show to calm their nerves. The stakes were almost as high as their blood alcohol levels. And unlike my student loan, it paid off.

I couldn't tell you a single thing about the show. There could have been a dinosaur wearing a Borat thong heckling me and I wouldn't have remembered. The only thing I can recall was my parents holding me saying “I’m so proud of you.” In fairness, it was probably the day-drinking talking.

My dream gig would definitely be at the Hammersmith Apollo for two reasons: 1) I watched Live At The Apollo habitually growing up, and 2), the one time I’ve performed there, I died on my hole. My set went so badly that someone in the audience shouted “come on mate.” Not like how you’d yell at a player from a football stand, but how you’d get shouted at by taking too long in Greggs.

It’s taken me years to admit this: I’m a brilliant comedian, but I am an off-the-charts punter. Great energy, loud laughter and laser-focused attention. I’m an asset to an audience, so that’s where I’d be. 

The comedians that make me laugh the most are the acts whose comedy is as far from what I do as possible. To compere, it would have to be Anna Mann – the super creation of Colin Hoult. There are a few comedians who know the cheat code to make me howl and Anna Mann is at the top of that list.

In the first section, I would love The Delightful Sausage and cabaret legend Catherine Cohen. Next, would be the wonderfully unique Raymond and Mr Timpkins Revue. They’re a double act who are the definition of honing your craft and doing your own thing. Only absolute professionals could have a mime act that hinges on misheard lyrics and make it work every single time.

And to round off the show, I’d like Roy Wood Jr. Not only is he powerfully funny, but he’s an extraordinary empath. He always manages to find the humanity behind any situation or the greater truth behind it, then decipher it and make it palatable enough to laugh at. He’s truly one of the greats.

The audience would be made up of mates of mine, the other acts’ mates, and their mates, each about three pints in. Before the show, we’d be drinking those pints in the pub across the road. And afterwards, we’d celebrate in the beer garden of a pub that we’d convinced to stay open until 2am.

Morgan Rees: Turning Thirsty, Monkey Barrel, Edinburgh, 9 May, 8pm; The Stand, Glasgow, 22 May, 8.30pm, £15

@morgantherees on Instagram / @morganreescomedy on TikTok