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Comedian returns home for big laughs

Bullied by stage fright as a teenager, Ben Sandell was sick and tired of being pushed around by his own fears. In 2006, he decided to take back control. Later that year he emerged as Ben San Del, the funniest person in the Twin Cities.

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Seriously – he was named Acme Comedy Company’s Funniest Person in the Twin Cities, 2006. San Del will grace the Broadway Ballroom in Alexandria on May 3 as a part of the Comedy Show.

A 2000 graduate of Jefferson High School in Alexandria, San Del claims his most prolific exposure to being in the spotlight includes his role as a robot waiter in his 4th grade performance of Robot Restaurant and playing the trombone for the 1998 Rose Bowl.

Even as a child, though, San Del was intrigued by the idea of stand-up comedy.

“When I was 6 or 7, I would watch stand-up on TV with my family,” San Del said. “I would laugh at the jokes even though I didn’t get them.” He added that it was interesting to see a performer on stage making his family laugh.

“I was fascinated,” San Del recalled. “How did they not forget anything or freak out?

“It was a way to get your ideas out there without a middleman.”

The comedian believes he got his first laugh from an audience when his 4th grade teacher encouraged him to recite the poetry he would write.

“I would write them about ridiculous things,” laughed San Del. “Like my feet.”

After high school graduation, San Del went to the University of Minnesota to pursue a journalism degree. He then worked part-time doing government writing for a newspaper in Golden Valley. During the night he worked on his creative material until he finally took to the stage in January of 2006.

“My first jokes weren’t that good,” he said. “But I was too new to realize they weren’t very good, so that gave me some confidence.” In September of that year, San Del entered Acme Comedy Company’s Funniest Person in the Twin Cities contest and was crowned the winner.

Since the contest, he has performed original material at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the Laughing Skull Comedy Festival in Atlanta, the 10,000 Laugh Comedy Festival in Minneapolis, San Francisco Sketchfest, and the Aspen LAFF festival.

San Del also began writing and producing comedic plays and is a long-time member of the Twin Cities performance troupe The Rockstar Storytellers.

Annie Harman
Annie Harman is a reporter for Echo Press and The Osakis Review. She grew up in Detroit Lakes and graduated from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire with a degree in print journalism and history in May 2012. Follow her on Twitter at annieharman
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