Non-Welsh people think we are Wizards, says Tudur Owen
Welsh writer, broadcaster and comedian Tudur Owen says that being bilingual ‘doubles the fun’ in life and offers a rich seam of comedy for his work.
Speaking with Clive Anderson on the BBC Radio 4 programme ‘Loose Ends’, Tudur credits his father as the common denominator, instigator and inspiration for many of the tall tales in his latest successful and endearing comedy series.
In The United Nations of Anglesey, currently airing on Radio 4, Tudur digs deep into family anecdotes, recounting the time when his little world ‘went international’.
The time when he may or may not have been ‘big in Japan’; the time when the fire-bombing campaign of Meibion Glyndŵr came a little too close to home, and the time when the ‘beautiful Patagonian troubadour’, René Griffiths came to stay.
Asked by Clive Anderson how being bilingual has contributed to his increasing success, Tudur said: “I’m thankful to be keeping as busy as I can and having both these languages to choose from. I always extoll the virtues of being bilingual because it doubles the fun in life.
“We are so lucky here in Wales and I am able to work in Welsh, as you say, and I am able to hop over the border to England and go up to Scotland. I’ll be going up to the Edinburgh Fringe this year, which I’m really excited about.
When asked by Clive Anderson about becoming he became bilingual, he said: “I still trip myself up now and then, stray Welsh words will enter, because Welsh is my first language. “
“When you do stand-up and you have to think on your feet, that’s when you realise what that first language means, because I do think in Welsh, and there is that split second of translating, and sometimes I do come a cropper.
“When I was young there was no need for English, because the whole family, extended family and the village were all Welsh – you could go weeks without hearing English.”
One degree of separation
Fellow guest Annie MacManus asked whether, similarly to her own Irish background, the cadences and the meanings behind the way people speak the Welsh language is a good content for comedy.
He said: “Some things don’t translate, and I have a lot of fun with a Welsh audience which I can’t translate, but also I can do my set in English and talk about the Welsh language and talk about the fact that we are a bilingual nation. People can relate to that, and yes, there is a rich seam of comedy to be had from the fact that we are bilingual.
“One little thing I like to do, especially when I go to Edinburgh – people think I’m Derran Brown – I always say with the idea of ‘six degrees of separation’…in Wales, we can easily whittle that down to one.
“One of my party pieces – and there’s always a Welsh person in the audience – but one of my party pieces is that I ask if there any Welsh people in, and if they mention a town, I will know someone in that town that they know.
“It always works, and the non-Welsh people think we are Wizards.”
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