Getting on stage and attempting to make people laugh can be a daunting prospect, but once Lee Wilson gave it a try he was hooked. The 34-year-old from St Albans has been on the comedy circuit for two years and now he is organising his very own comedy festival called YURT FEST. The day festival will see stand-ups who will be heading to Edinburgh Fringe Festival take to the stage in St Albans and Jyoti Rambhai caught up with Lee to find out more.

Why did you decide to start an all-day comedy festival?

I’ve been running a monthly club called Comedy in the Yurt in St Albans for over a year. It’s been a brilliant event for the city. I’m heading up to the Edinburgh Festival for a few days next month so I wanted to bring some of the best acts along to have a special event just for us. It’s a fantastic opportunity to see some brand new comedy without having to travel very far to see it.

What can audiences expect from the festival?

YURT FEST is made up of six 50-minute shows that will be travelling up to the Fringe Festival in just a few weeks’ time. We start at 2pm with a wonderful compere, Andy Gleeks, who will be welcoming everyone and settling us in for the first show at 2.30pm. Then it’s up to you.

Why are you using a yurt?

In early 2015, I was looking for a place to start a brand new comedy club in St Albans. I’d been to a Christmas party at the Blacksmiths Arms in their yurt and I immediately knew it’d be a perfect place to hold a comedy show. It has that built-in cool atmosphere that you just can’t manufacture. It has a similar vibe to a festival, like Glastonbury or the Edinburgh fringe, so it makes a lot of sense to have our own comedy festival there. Plus it’s the perfect size, we can comfortably fit 50 people in the yurt which makes it a lovely intimate room and it’s an absolute joy to play in.

Can you tell me more about the chosen line up?

I’m so thrilled with the line up for YURT FEST. All of the acts that we’ve got are of a very high quality, absolutely guaranteed to make you laugh. We start the festival with Sofie Hagen, who won Best Newcomer in the Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards last year. All the other acts are fantastic too. Tom Toal has just appeared in the final of the English Comedian of the Year, Eleanor Morton supported Frankie Boyle on tour, Robin Morgan and Amy Howerska both write for BBC Radio 4 comedy shows and Paul McMullan is a highly rated newcomer.

I understand you have previously had comics come to the Blacksmiths Arms, can you tell me more about that?

Comedy in the Yurt happens on the last Wednesday of the month and we’ve had great success selling out all thirteen shows since we began in May 2015. I set up the night so that I’d have a local gig where I could perform. I’ve met hundreds of hilarious people from all kinds of backgrounds who perform on the Open Mic circuit in London, sometimes to only a handful of distracted people. I wanted to create a show with a full room of engaged audience and give these talented performers a chance to really show what they can do. It has been a huge success, all of the acts get paid and get valuable experience of a real show, helping them move up the comedy ladder. I’m confident that some of the acts we’ve had at Comedy in the Yurt will go on to become household names in the future.

Why do you like stand-up comedy that you personally like?

Nothing beats the thrill of making people laugh. To write something yourself that you think is funny, then go out and tell that to a room full of strangers and they find it funny too, there’s no other feeling like it. You get instant feedback, which of course can mean sometimes that what you say isn’t funny but then you learn from it and make it better next time. Often people say to me, “I can’t think of anything worse!” I guess it’s not for everyone but once I tried it that first time, it’s just something I had to do again and again.

Who are your favourite comics and why?

There are so many comedians I love and I admire anyone that does it but I’ll highlight three acts , one you will know, one you may not know and one for the future. He’s a very popular choice but Stuart Lee is a master of stand up. I very nearly got him to come to YURT FEST but sadly for us he is on holiday. Secondly, Bo Burnham – I first saw him at Edinburgh a few years ago doing his debut hour show and he was amazing. He is a young American comedian who shot to stardom after posting a video on YouTube, which went viral. And finally, I want to mention an act that I’ve had come along to St Albans, Katie Pritchard,. Katie is a singer/dancer/actor/comedian and her shows are a full on extravaganza’s of energy and most importantly she is downright hilarious. Watch out for her, she’s going to be big.

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you?

I still cringe about this but the very first time I ever hosted a comedy night myself, we hung a big curtain on a rail as the backdrop to give the stage area a defined space. The problem was, we had no way of fixing it up. So we decided it’d be a great idea to use two long posts either side leaning up against the back wall. During my welcoming introduction at the start of the night, I went to pick up a prop from the table at the side of the stage. Unfortunately, I knocked one of the posts, causing the whole backdrop to come crashing down on top of me. I froze for a few seconds, not quite knowing what had happened, or what to do. Thankfully, people found it very funny and it was just my ego that took a battering. I now make sure that everything is fixed solidly before I take to the stage, just in case.

Can you tell me more about yourself – where did you grow up?

I’m from Wakefield, Yorkshire, a small place called Wakefield where there’s not an awful lot to laugh about. I moved to North Wales when I was 11 and began performing in school plays and scout gang shows and theatre groups before studying radio and philosophy at university – they actually go really well together. I’ve worked in radio for 15 years and produced my own comedy sketch show 4am CAB (still available on iTunes) before taking my first step into stand up comedy in 2014. I intend to keep doing it for as long as I’m able to stand up. I’ve lived in St Albans now for seven years.

Blacksmiths Arms, St Peter’s Street, St Albans,Sunday, July 17, 2pm to 9.30pm. Details: 01727 868845,