Chippenham's first comedy festival earned rave reviews from the audiences that filled every inch of The Three Crowns pub to watch more than 25 comics go through their paces.

A charming and chipper Mark Thomas, best known for the Channel 4 show that bears his name, said it was like being in someone’s front room that had just managed to squeeze a bar in.

Chippenham was lucky enough to be the third place in the country to get a sneak preview of his 100 Acts of Minor Dissent project.

Breaking free from the shackles of his performances on BBC Radio 4, the mischievous rabble-rouser let rip against pornographers, substandard trading companies and formulaic authors.

His anti-establishment edge set the tone of comedy aimed at a more intellectual audience, with surprisingly little smut over the weekend, and a bit of positive discrimination obvious in the number of comediennes.

Steve Webb, 46, of Pew-sham, said: “It wasn’t lowest common denominator, it was a bit more cerebral. It’s brilliant that someone’s been able to bring in so many top quality acts.

“Chippenham hasn’t seen anything like this since the heyday of Golddiggers.

“Some of the acts were a work in progress, still professional but you could see the cogs turning.”

John Gordillo, whose audience included MP Duncan Hames, took the crowd through his preparations for the Edinburgh Fringe, in what was described by town councillor Rob Jones as a comedy masterclass.

In his own set, festival organiser Wil Hodgson spoke about his childhood fears, comparing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory to the serial killer film Se7en, and in doing so probably smashed the world record for how many words you can fit into 60 minutes. He also did an impromptu double act with his subversive best mate Andrew O’Neill from Never Mind the Buzzcocks.

“It’s a fantastic achievement for Chippenham,” said festival goer Tim Smith, 45, who lives near John Coles Park. Ian Bassett. 37, of Calne, said: “I didn’t think it would ever happen but it has and it’s been great.”

Mr Hodgson said he would aim to make it happen again next year. He said: “I can’t stress enough how hard Gemma worked all weekend, all the bar staff and Shaun who did the sound. My regulars from the comedy club night came to loads of the smaller acts too.”

He also thanked his mum for feeding the comedians, and Dave Maloney and Sandie, Doug and Steve Webb for donating to the event.