Edinburgh talent without the journey

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EDINBURGH, Melbourne, Glasgow, New Zealand, Sydney, Montreal, Tring … the seventh longest comedy festival in the world is arriving shortly – and you won’t have to travel far to be there.

Tring’s very own comedy festival The Tringe kicks off at the beginning of July and this year it’s going to be even more impressive than 2010 – three whole weeks of top-notch laughter and merriment.

But how on earth, you may ask yourself, did a small market town nestled in the Chiltern Hills acquire such a huge gig?

The answer lies with Ben Moorhouse, a 42 year old father of two young sons who has resided in Tring – not far from his wife’s original stomping ground of Wendover – since 1997.

The youngest of six kids – five boys and a girl – for years Ben was dragged along to the Edinburgh Festival by his brothers.

“I’ve been going to Edinburgh since I was knee-high and in those days with just 20 quid in my pocket I was able to see everything.”

That early experience got him hooked on comedy and four or five years ago he decided to organise a comedy fundraiser at Tring Park Cricket Club.

It was a success so he devised another - and this time with the help of former stand-up Dave Smith, also a Tring man, the line-up included experienced comics Paul Thorne and Dan Evans.

It went down a storm and a third was organised for the Court Theatre, in front of a bigger audience.

Then Ben had a stroke of luck.

At an awards ceremony for his day job - Ben has a creative agency - Rob Brydon was handing out the prizes.

Ben won best design of the year award, he and Rob got chatting, and somehow the BAFTA-nominated Welsh actor, comedian, radio and television presenter, singer and impressionist was persuaded to do a gig in Tring.

Ben says: “Rob told the story when he came of how I sat on him and wouldn’t get up until he said yes!”

Tring’s comedy reputation was growing and suddenly Comedy at the Court sounded a bit bland.

So Ben and Dave Smith got together over a beer, and with the help of Elliott Quince who designed a logo, Get Stuffed was born.

It was all done on a shoestring but the comedy club attracts quality acts and continues to make money for local charities.

Comedians like performing in front of Tring’s discerning but warm audience, and no doubt Ben’s passion for comedy and entertainment helps to attract the best.

He describes how he picked up a few more contacts a while back:

“Milton Jones came with Rhod Gilbert and in the interval he sat with me and literally just poured out his address book.”

In only a few years Ben’s first comedy venture has turned into a respected comedy club, and now a three week long comedy festival with a line-up to rival the established international events.

Take a look at the event guide - downloadable at www.get-stuffed.biz - you won’t be disappointed.

There are headline acts every night with a good few evenings of double headers - Arthur Smith, Richard Herring, Russell Kane, Shappi Khorsandi .... to name just a few.

The Tringe runs from Friday, July 1 to Saturday, July 23 and some nights have already sold out so don’t delay in booking.