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Jaren Wilkey, BYU
The cast of BYUtv's "Studio C" is, clockwise from left, Matt Meese, Jason Grey, Mallorey Everton and Whitney Call.

BYUtv’s fall season includes the channel’s first foray into primetime comedy: “Studio C,” a new sketch comedy series that is produced in-house.

The show’s roots trace back to Divine Comedy, the troupe that has long performed on the BYU campus. “Studio C” aims to appeal to a broader audience by keeping the quirky humor of Divine Comedy but shedding the colloquialisms of BYU and the LDS Church.

The Deseret News recently spoke about “Studio C” with Jared Shores, the BYUtv creative development supervisor who doubles as the show’s producer and co-creator.

Deseret News: What’s the back story behind “Studio C?”

Jared Shores: (Co-creator) Matt Meese came to me a year and a half ago and said, “Hey, I’ve got this idea.” I said, “OK, let’s really investigate it. Because if we were to pursue this, it would be brand-new for BYUtv. And we’d really only get one shot — so if we do it, we’d have to do it right.” We spent a lot of time developing and harnessing what the idea is, and making it as smooth and as entertaining as possible. We shot a pilot test episode November of last year. BYUtv really liked it and said yes, so we shot 10 episodes.

DN: How would you articulate the show’s premise and scope?

JS: The only limits are our imagination and creativity: How funny can we possibly be, and how entertaining can we possibly be? We hope that if we do this right — and we think we can — then we’ll be successful at gaining an audience that is new to BYUtv. We’re targeting an audience that has been looking for a funny sketch-comedy, variety-show type of format, but aren’t able to really find it without encountering humor that is crude or crass and they’re uncomfortable with.

DN: From the outside, it seems like “Studio C” could really elevate the visibility of BYUtv. Does it feel that way to you too?

JS: The show has been such a baby of mine that I’ve been working on for so long that it’s a huge deal for me, but at the same time I think it’s a logical step for the station. Venturing into scripted comedy is a proper evolution for the channel, and from our perspective, it’s the only way to really gain a new audience that will come back and visit us time and time again.

DN: What are the similarities and differences between “Studio C” and Divine Comedy?

JS: The similarities are a certain kind of style in the sense of sketch comedy: Both are previously written and rehearsed and memorized and performed in the same way, so it’s not really improv. We’re different in two main ways, experience and content. We have gleaned the best of the best from Divine Comedy and married it to a production staff behind “Studio C,” with years and years of experience in film and TV, which adds an extra element to the show. The content of "Studio C" is tailored toward a national audience — unlike Divine Comedy, which often plays to a BYU and LDS-centric crowd.

DN: What’s the best part about producing the show?

JS: It’s getting paid to laugh. I think it’s so much fun just sitting down with these writers and performers — Matt Meese, Mallory Everton, Whitney Call and Jason Gray — day after day, and to try to make each other laugh. Our goal is to do it in a new and fresh way every time, so that hopefully we can translate it onto the screen and onto the TV for everyone else to enjoy. My mantra has always been that If we’re not having fun and if we’re not laughing, it will never translate. We have to really fall in love with this for everyone else to love it too — and I think we really have, and I think it shows.

“Studio C” airs on BYUtv on Mondays at 7 p.m. MST.

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at [email protected] or 801-236-6051.