SALT LAKE CITY — Six members of JK! Studios, the Provo-based sketch comedy group that left BYUtv's "Studio C" earlier this year, wowed Los Angeles audiences and advanced to the next round with their first performance on NBC’s new comedy competition “Bring the Funny.”
The group, dressed in monochromatic outfits with a sparkly rainbow behind them in their sketch, parodied a children’s show titled “Happy Fun Friends.” When a cast member of the fictional kids show goes missing, the sound guy, played by Jeremy Warner, stepped in, but switched his educational lines with conspiracy theories about the moon landing and a portal to North Korea.
JK! Studios’ polished performance looked effortless and certainly impressed judges Chrissy Teigen, Kenan Thompson and Jeff Foxworthy, but the road to “Bring the Funny” was uncertain and stressful for the group.
Due to some complicated circumstances, JK! Studios had to come up with brand-new material right before leaving for the trip.
“It was kind of the all-hands-on-deck thing,” Warner told the Deseret News in a phone interview. “It was a lot of sweat equity. Everyone was like, ‘cancel your weekend plans, we’re doing this.’”
“It just became the No. 1 priority,” Mallory Everton, who played Pink in the sketch, added. “It was exhausting, but … I’m so grateful we’re able to work under pressure.”
Performing in front of a new audience is always nerve-wracking, but performing in front of comedians Thompson, Foxworthy and Teigen added additional pressure.
“It just felt like if we were playing, like, an open mic night in front of the Beatles,” Warner said with a laugh.
“I felt really sick when we got there,” he added. “I just laid down on the concrete floor backstage, and the other contestants were like, ‘Are you doing OK?’ and I’m like, ‘Not really.’ I went and I threw up a bunch and I felt so much better … . I was super pumped after that.”
“We were definitely really nervous. It’s sort of like when you take your first test with a new teacher. You just don’t know what to expect at all,” Everton explained. “That was how it felt. We didn’t know what the crowds were like, didn’t know what it would be like to look out at the judges.”
Despite the nerves, onstage, JK! Studios let loose with their signature brand of goofy sketch comedy. The audience and judges alike ate it up.
“The main reason we decided to do the show, even though our circumstances were not ideal, was because we wanted to see if we had what it takes to really play in front of a bigger audience,” Everton said. “It felt really good to get on a stage that big and feel like we could hang with the competition.”
“I was super pumped as we walked off stage,” Warner said. “As we walked off, there were some contestants that were backstage and they were like, giving us thumbs up. It was really nice to hear from them as well.”
“It was (also) just instant relief,” Everton added. “I was really relieved to be done but also to have done well.”
After each performance, the judges gave their feedback to the group. JK! Studios was unanimously liked. Part of the appeal was the unconventional subject of the sketch.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sketch group take on a kids’ show, which is awesome,” Foxworthy said, adding that JK! Studios did a “fabulous job.”
Teigen, who has young children, said the funny representation of children’s TV resonated with her. “I watch BabyTV every day, and this is really the kind of stuff that is on that channel all the time,” she said.
Of the group’s conspiracy-theory parody of educational kids’ content, Teigen said, “There’s just something about the awkwardness and the inappropriateness and the randomness that I really love.”
JK! Studios also impressed the judges with their polish. “Your stage presence is amazing. The way you work the room is amazing,” Thompson said.
As the group left the stage, the judges discussed the music and choreography of the sketch. “That’s somebody who cares about every aspect (of the sketch),” Foxworthy said.
While they felt they did well and the judges praised them, JK! Studios wasn’t sure if they would make it to the next round of the show after their first performance.
“We felt very satisfied that if we didn’t (advance to the next round), we gave it our all and left it all on their field,” Warner said.
“I remember feeling like, ‘You know what, no matter what, it’s going to be just fine,’” Everton agreed.2 comments on this story
JK! Studios was ecstatic when their name was called as one of the groups who made it to the next round of “Bring the Funny.” “When they called our name, I was just like, ‘Yes!’” Everton said. “This primal scream came out.”
“I hope that our performance will be well-received by viewers, … and that they know that JK! Studios has a lot more than just one sketch,” Warner said. “Keep an eye peeled for future projects that we’re doing.”
“Bring the Funny” airs on NBC on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. MDT.