An English optical assistant, who taught himself pigeon Welsh via a podcast, has launched a successful career in Welsh-language stand-up comedy.

Chris Chopping, a 32-year-old from Bedfordshire who has worked at Specsavers on Queen Street for six years, started his stand-up comedy career when he moved to Cardiff.

Bilingual success

Six years on, he is regularly performing at gigs across the UK – from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to Cornwall – and, having taught himself some basic Welsh, he is now delivering Welsh language sets, including for S4C’s comedy show Gwerthu Allan and the upcoming Machynlleth Comedy Festival.

‘I was always interested in comedy as a kid but I grew up in a small town where there were no live gigs,’ he said.

‘My first gig was to a full audience and I was so nervous, but it was exhilarating and I’ve never looked back.

‘I began learning Welsh using podcasts because I had moved here and wanted to embrace the culture. I started doing a few jokes about the learning process and somehow that has progressed to me doing some Welsh language comedy. I ad lib and make fun of my bad Welsh. It’s all going well. It’s a thriving scene.’

Juggling Specsavers and comedy commitments

Working at Specsavers has not prevented Chris’ comedy career from blossoming – something he puts down to the support and encouragement of his colleagues.

‘Many of them have been to see me over the years,’ he said.

‘They have always been supportive, allowing me to drop to part-time working hours so I could balance both commitments. I couldn’t have asked for more as I’ve been able to pursue comedy but also keep up my job in retail, which I thoroughly enjoy.’

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