Find out how it all began...


Trish-18

TRISH CALLER – FOUNDER OF TAUNTON COMEDY FESTIVAL

“I’ve been involved in Charity Fund Raising for many years as part of a committee where I used to work. Over the years we have raised many thousands of pounds for local charities. We chose a charity of the year and then arranged numerous events to raise as much as we could for them over 12 months. The events consist of quizzes, cake sales, book sales, 10 pin bowling competitions etc. We normally raised around £10,000 a year.”


“In 2013 one of my colleagues, Dean Piper, nominated the Freewheelers Blood Bike Charity. He is a volunteer rider for Freewheelers and his enthusiasm was infectious! He even offered to have his whole body waxed in the middle of my local pub (The Grove) if his charity was chosen. When Freewheelers won the vote we decided to really stretch our target and try and raise £17,000 to buy Freewheelers a new motorbike. The waxing event raised £1,000 on its own!

I wanted to do something really big to try and raise as much money as possible in a single event. I know it sounds daft, but, I had a dream! In my dream I saw hundreds of people laughing in a big tent!

The next day I decided to try and find a venue. The first call I made was to Taunton School. Kathryn Howard took my call. Well, after that call I didn’t bother to call any other venues! Kathryn and her wonderful team jumped up and accepted the challenge to put on the biggest and best Comedy Event to happen in Taunton. They matched our enthusiasm all the way! Within days we had agreed the date and how we were going to sell the tickets.

Then I started to track down a headline act and put the show together. I was helped in this by the wonderful Geoff Whiting from Mirth Control. After a couple of false starts Geoff managed to get Milton Jones!

We then proceeded to build the show around Milton. Geoff offered his personal services to be our amazing MC for the night! Matt Green would be our opening act. Omah Hamdi, Jordan Brooks and Tom Glover made up the rest of the team!

Over the next few months we jumped on the advertising whirlwind! I was a guest on Darren Daley’s breakfast show on Tone FM, a local community radio station! Had such fun! Then Dean and I appeared on BBC Somerset Sound on the Ben McGrail show. Loved it! So exciting! We even got to meet Clinton Rogers and he bought 4 tickets! One sunny Saturday we stood for 9 hours on the High Street handing out leaflets about the Festival….I even got to meet Libby Lisgo, the Mayor of Taunton! She asked how she could help us publicise the event and suggested she told a daft joke on the radio every morning for a week….and SHE DID!

The days and weeks sped by and ticket sales were slow but steady….it was very nerve wracking! What if we didn’t break even?! They were scary days indeed….then the tickets started to fly and the day before the festival we had sold almost 800 tickets!

June 23rd 2013 arrived……The first thing I noticed was the smell of a delicious Hog Roast supplied by Pynes the Butchers. Then I went into the marquee and it looked amazing! Chandeliers and everything! The tent was almost empty apart from Taunton School staff running around making final arrangements. Then I stepped outside and watched as 100’s of people walked towards the marquee! It was a very emotional moment.

I popped into the Green Room to meet the Comedians. What a lovely bunch of chaps!
I went back to the marquee and settled down to watch the show…….I’d like to draw your attention to the 3rd paragraph above……… In my dream I saw hundreds of people laughing in a big tent! …..I looked around during the show and watched as people forgot all their problems and had a really good laugh! I’ll never forget all the jokes from the MC about Taunton people getting so excited about the raffle prize of a huge cake a month for a year (kindly donated by Ministry of Cake)….joke was on him though really as it’s all I’ve heard about since! Everyone wanted the cakes!!
Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough………except to say that our Charity Committee raised the £17,000 for the new motorbike but we didn’t need 12 months! We reached our total by 31st July!! So for the rest of that year we raised money for the 7 charities which were runners up in the vote.

MM-12
© Patricia Caller 2013