|Birth name||Owain Elis James|
|Born||3 November 1980|
|Medium||Stand-up, television, radio|
Owain Elis James (born 3 November 1980) is a Welsh comedian, broadcaster and actor originally from Haverfordwest. He grew up in Carmarthen and later lived in Cardiff. He is now based in London. He is bilingual in Welsh and English and has performed stand-up in both languages.
James was born in Haverfordwest and grew up in Carmarthen, Wales. He has two younger sisters, Carys and Nia. James's mother worked with the father of Welsh comedian Rhod Gilbert and the mother of Welsh musician Euros Childs.
James began his comedy career in 2005, but made the transition to full-time comedy work in 2008. Prior to moving full-time to comedy, James was guitarist with the Cardiff-based indie/punk band Heck, fronted by Jemma Roper. The band recorded an EP and received airplay on BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Introducing's Wales show, then broadcast on Radio 1. They also performed on new bands nights organised by the NME.
James commenced his role as Rex Jones, an old caretaker who is a post-Marxist with a health-and-safety obsession, in the live show Chris Corcoran's Committee Meeting in 2009. The show, conceived by Welsh comedian Chris Corcoran, was held for three years at the Muni Arts Centre. Corcoran explained in 2014: "We would write each show from scratch in the space of five days and the first time we'd perform it would be in front of the audience."
James supported Gilbert on his national UK tour, "Rhod Gilbert and the Award-Winning Mince Pie", in 2010. Supporting Gilbert, James experienced performances before audiences of over 1,500 people and he later said that he felt like a "pop star" when he walked on stage during the tour. James performed the "Daytripper" show at the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
James and Corcoran later performed in a "best of" show based on the Chris Corcoran's Committee Meeting shows, including the Social Club FM spin-off radio show, at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show received the Guardian Pick of the Fringe accolade and led to the production of The Committee Meeting television pilot after the Tiger Aspect production company expressed interest.
In 2012, in response to a question about whether there is a difference between English and Welsh comedy, James replied:
There are differences, however slight, and the references are obviously different. But not so different that Welsh comics can't be successful in England, and vice versa. There are plenty of regional differences in English humour. I would tailor my material differently if I was in Aberystwyth as opposed to Manchester, but not radically.
James was the MC of the Machynlleth Comedy Festival Gala performance at the May 2014 Hay Festival. James performed alongside partner Isy Suttie, as well as comedians Henry Paker and Mike Wozniak. At the 2015 Machynlleth Comedy Festival, James performed a new Work in Progress show as well as a set in Welsh.
In late 2015, James recorded a stand-up special in Welsh titled Rhacs Jibiders. It was broadcast on S4C and was also available (as with many of the channel's shows) on the BBC iPlayer.
In 2018, James took part in BBC one's game show Richard Osman's house of games.
Following a pilot show, on 16 February 2014 James started broadcasting the Elis James and John Robins show on XFM (now Radio X), co-hosting with fellow comedian John Robins. The show was broadcast on Saturday afternoons and released a popular podcast. The show had its final broadcast on 30 March 2019.
James has hosted Elis James's Pantheon of Heroes on BBC Radio Wales since 2012. In the show, which also features Nadia Kamil and Ben Partridge, various figures from Welsh history are comically compared to each other in an attempt to identify the most heroic. Four series have been broadcast so far. Since 2014, James has also co-written and co-starred in the BBC Radio Wales sketch show Here Be Dragons. The show won the 2014 Sony Award - Bronze for Best Comedy.
In 2016, James hosted Elis in Euroland for BBC Radio Wales, a series reporting on the 2016 Euros campaign by the Wales national football team, of which he's been a lifelong fan. The team reached the tournament's semi-finals.
James has also been hosting the BBC podcast Elis James' Feast of Football since August 2017, along with former Welsh Internationals Iwan Roberts and Danny Gabbidon, discussing the fortunes of the Welsh National Team and Welsh clubs Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Wrexham.
In 2013 The Committee Meeting was part of BBC Three's "Comedy Feeds", a series of comedy television pilots available exclusively via the BBC iPlayer. The pilot starred James and Corcoran, and featured guest Colin Baker. It was screened on BBC One Wales in August 2014.
In 2014 James appeared as Nigel in episode 3 of Crackanory, series 2, on the Dave channel. He also filmed a lead role in the BBC prison sitcom 600 Days, later renamed Crims. The sitcom aired on BBC Three in early 2015.
Also in 2014, James appeared in the BBC Three "Comedy Feed" pilot Josh, starring Josh Widdicombe. A full six-episode season of Josh ran on BBC Three in late 2015. BBC Three has ordered a second full series of the show, and it was released on the now online-only channel in Autumn 2016. A third series has been realised by the BBC.
Awards and accolades
James won the Best Comedy prize at the National Student Radio Awards in 2006.
In March 2017 James won Chortle's Best Radio Show award with co-host John Robins, for their weekly show on Radio X.
James is a supporter of Swansea City and Wales, and has an extensive collection of retro shirts of both teams. He explained in 2010 that the worst thing about being a comedian is when the timing of Swansea City games clash with his live show commitments.
He is engaged to actress, comedian and musician Isy Suttie. The couple met in 2009 and began dating in 2010. They now live in Crystal Palace, south London and have a daughter, Beti Mair (born in 2014), and a son, Steffan (born 2019).
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- on YouTube
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- Elis James [@elisjames] (9 February 2019). "Steffan!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.