IT’S 8pm on a Friday night and the little hall just at the back of Tring’s Roman Catholic Church of Corpus Christi is a beacon of light in an otherwise quiet, rainy and very dark Langdon Street.
More used to hosting aerobic classes and parent and toddler groups, tonight the windows are rattling to the sound of 16 trainee stand-ups and their teacher, comedian and author Logan Murray.
Logan’s taught some of the most successful comics currently on the circuit – Greg Davies, Rhod Gilbert and Dominic Holland are just three of his alumni.
They’re still warming up when I arrive although, to be honest, they all look pretty relaxed already.
Standing in a circle the wannabe funnies are taking turns to be patronising. Some are better than others but no-one seems nervous or reluctant to join in.
For the next exercise the trainees partner up. One must play the role of audience warm-up person while the other acts as their idiot friend who’s trying to help out but who’s actually just hindering procedure.
Play the game and unlock the creative communicator that lurks in all of us. Or at least that’s the theory. Logan explains that if you can turn off your conscious brain with all its social editors then you let your unconscious – and hopefully amusing – brain kick in.
It’s like being a bit drunk but without the slowing effects of the booze.
Initially I’m not convinced but watching couple after couple perform these hysterical double acts I start to see what he means.
“I don’t get it” cries Monty. A 25-year-old Nigerian she tells me, somewhat tongue-in-cheek I think, that she’s doing the course to get away from her traditional family.
She might not think she gets it but Monty’s very funny, gesticulating madly in an attempt to help out her ‘serious’ partner.
Logan says: “The funniest things come out when your editors are turned off.”
Next up is another game – a similar take on the previous exercise and also designed to take trainee brains to this fabulous non-edited place.
This time partner one gives partner two a subject to speak on. The subject must be something partner two knows absolutely nothing about but on which partner one is an expert.
Partner two must rely on a quick lesson from the expert before he or she takes to the stage. Partner one may only help out partner two by giving non-verbal directions from the sidelines.
The range of topics is diverse.
Who’d have thought Brian Murray, a doctor in real life, would know so much about keeping chickens? While Steph Peart’s knowledge of Heathcliff and Cathy’s relationship in Wuthering Heights must surely have won her an A* at A-level, unlike her poor partner Jo Scott who, having never even read the book, is tasked with lecturing the audience on its intricacies.
The Freemasons, reptile breeding, the Sound of Music, common agricultural policy – the subjects, and the various attempts to explain them, is true entertainment.
Some are a slick double-act, some slip-up and falter, but without fail they are all funny, and not just a little smirk funny, real laugh out loud funny.
It proves Logan’s point that: “You can f*** up and still be really funny. In fact that’s often where the best stuff comes from.”
You can see the novice stand-ups as they perform around the pubs of Tring on Sunday, July 3, from 7.30pm to 10.30pm.
The two best acts will also be joining one of comedy’s elder statesmen, Arthur Smith, when he appears at the Court Theatre in Tring on Thursday, July 7, 8pm.
Go to www.get-stuffed.biz for more information and to book tickets.