When the BYU Broadcasting Building, a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility, was dedicated in August of 2011, it included a studio capable of holding an audience of 250 people. And yet, BYUtv didn’t have a show that would require the seating found in “Studio C.”
“They said at the time that they built it they were like ‘Why do we have so many seats in here. We don’t even have the shows that would bring in that many people.’ They had no idea,” Jason Gray, a member of the cast of BYUtv’s “Studio C,” said in an interview with Deseret News on Tuesday. “They just kind of built it. It’s kind of like ‘Field of Dreams.’ ‘If you build it, they will come.’”
Today, when you walk into the BYU Broadcasting Building, cardboard cutouts of “Studio C” cast members stand in the lobby, greeting all guests who enter. The show’s first episode aired one year after the building was dedicated, and 19,000 people submitted their email addresses last season in hopes of having an opportunity to fill one of those 250 studio audience seats.
“They built the facility, and I guess we came,” Gray said when asked if all of this was a coincidence. “So I think especially because you know that apostles oversee BYU Broadcasting and the construction and all of those things, you’ve got to know that there is a lot of prayer and divine intervention.”
The national attention and acclaim the show has received was so surprising it exceeded almost everyone's expectations, except those of cast member Matt Meese.
“Matt had very high expectations,” Gray said. “The rest of us just had to trust him.”
Perhaps it is not a coincidence that Matt Meese has now become known around the world as “Scott Sterling” for his role in their most popular sketch which has now been viewed over 50 million times.
The cast even appeared on “Conan” earlier this month, an experience they say “legitimized the show” and helped them to accomplish what they set out to do — create something that would extend beyond the reaches of Mormon culture.
They appreciated that Conan O’Brien highlighted their efforts to create comedy that parents can watch with their children. The cast explained that they recognize the responsibility they have in representing the show.
“We all do social media and stuff, Instagram, and some people do YouTube channels and stuff, and we’re aware of who we are and where we work and stuff, so we are careful with what part of ourselves we show. We understand that we have thousands of children following us, so sometimes we cater to them and we do stuff to make it fun for them as well,” the show’s James Perry said. "Whereas if we had some other job where we weren’t in the public eye, we would not even think about it.”
“We have this audience that is going to follow us, so let’s make sure that we do something they like and that will be good for them. We’re not going to go make an intensely violent R-rated movie and be like, ‘Go watch it, kids.’ We want to have earned their trust and keep their trust,” cast member Adam Berg added.
The cast members of “Studio C” are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but their jokes are not religious in nature or specific to Mormon culture.
“We want whatever we make to be reflective of the values we have as a whole and personally,” cast member Jeremy Warner said.
This has attracted the attention of many people both Mormon and non-Mormon. This is what brought Dove Channel’s “Frankly Faraci,” a faith-based television show streamed online, to the BYU Broadcasting Building on Tuesday.
“It’s cool to see the mutual respect that we have, and it’s cool that someone outside of the LDS Church can appreciate the values and things...that we try to share. The more opportunities to kind of reach outside and things to other faiths, the better. Maybe we can get the Pope,” Gray said of the experience, prompting Warner to suggest that they tweet at him.
The cast believes that engaging in interfaith discussion is a powerful tool for good.
“Communication is key in every effort because the more people that you can listen to and understand, the better your service to them can be,” Perry said. “So in our case, we are providing entertainment, and that means we want anyone and everyone to watch it and appreciate it. That means we have to be willing to listen to everyone and understand what are the wants and needs of different people so that we can try to provide something good for a wide variety of people.”
Having already exceeded expectations, the show’s cast has learned to aim high. When asked what they would like to do in the future, they say they’d like to do a movie or go on tour, but Perry explained that their dreams don’t stop there.
“I think one really cool goal would be if we could expand beyond us as a cast but have a hub of media that is good, positive media and extend to have different production companies that create other movies, other shows and eventually have people come with ideas...and have a lot more content that’s similar in the sense of families watching it together,” Perry said.
“We want to build a media empire,” Warner joked.