How did you get started with comedy?
The short answer is that I went to see my best friend Whitney audition for BYU’s Divine Comedy, signed up to be the videographer for the group, and then auditioned for it myself a year later. The long answer would probably start back in 1996 when I was much too young to be watching SNL, Dumb and Dumber, and Tommy Boy with my siblings but I did it anyway.
What was your first Divine Comedy audition like?
Oh, you know, it was silly. My mom and I built a fat suit together, and I did a Latin Plus-Size Dance instructor routine. It ended with me stopping the warm-up dance to eat some Oreos.
What is it like, writing and revising a sketch like “Guy/Girl Doorstep”?
“Guy/Girl Doorstep” was an idea that didn’t go through a ton of revision after I presented it. We changed a few jokes here and there once we were rehearsing it for Studio C, but for the most part, it stayed the same. That isn’t super common for me, though; I’ll usually bring in a sketch that needs a lot of love still, I’ll get feedback from the group, and then I’ll come back with it looking pretty different, hopefully much better. Even though we all tackle sketches individually, they all become a group effort once we get them into the writers’ room. I really love that collaborative aspect of what we’re doing. You know, two heads are better than one, three heads are better than two, but four heads is freakish. Nothing should have four heads. That’s the phrase, right? :)
You have written many incredible musical sketches. Where did you get your inspiration for “Everything Sounds Nicer When You Sing”?
Haha. I got the inspiration for “Everything Sounds Nicer” from pop/dance music, actually. It’s funny how we can all (myself included, of course) sing along to the foulest lyrics imaginable as long as the beat is hefty and the chorus is catchy.
How does your writing process change when writing a song for the whole ensemble, such as the “Facebook Friends Song”?
Well, writing songs is definitely more time-consuming than other sketches. Trying to squeeze funny lines into measures and rhyme schemes suddenly makes me nuts-grateful for the sketches where I don’t have to do that. “Facebook Friends Song” was long in the making for me. I’d been compiling a list of annoying Facebook trends for months, and then one day I decided to put the list to music. It was a natural ensemble piece, and Divine Comedy taught me to love writing big cast pieces, so that was no problem. Everyone did so well in that sketch. I’m glad we were able to involve everyone.
What is involved in bringing a Studio C sketch from initial idea to performance-ready?
It’s really different with every sketch. Sometimes sketches are born into this world entirely finished, and sometimes—like I said earlier—they need a bit more love. In those cases, you might bring it in for feedback once or twice, and if people still like it, then we put it through to be rehearsed. If not, it dies there, which ends up being best for everyone involved. Once we’re rehearsing, sketches tend to change a little bit more. Some lines don’t work as well when they’re on their feet, and sometimes people come up with great improvised lines that we’ve just got to add. After that, the sketches are pretty much set until we do it in front of the audience.
What is a typical Studio C rehearsal like?
Really fun. A little disorganized. Kind of like having a class with all your friends, except you’re studying things that you wrote, so you’re even more bored with the material already. :)
What is the craziest experience you’ve had with Studio C or Divine Comedy?
Hmmm… I think the craziest experiences I’ve had thus far were listening to Mates of State and Rogue Wave perform songs that I wrote for the show. I’m a huge fan of both those bands so that was crazy surreal for me. Also, the time I hugged Shawn Bradley and only went up to his waistband was pretty nuts.
What is the funniest moment you remember where someone went off-script during a live performance?
You know, this doesn’t actually happen that often on Studio C because we try to be so well-prepared for our tapings. There was a time this past season where I was supposed to carry Matt offstage, but I rolled my ankle in my heels and fell down with him in my arms. That was pretty funny, but we retaped the sketch for the TV audience’s benefit.
What challenges have you experienced in making Studio C a reality?
Ah man, if only we had hours and hours for this question. :) There have been so many challenges. I think it was inevitable when we decided to pull together a comedy show in Provo, Utah, for a religious station that had never done anything scripted, let alone comedic. In a lot of ways, we’ve been blazing a new trail, and while that’s exciting, it can also be slow-moving and infuriating. More than anything, though, I’ll admit that the biggest challenges I’ve faced have been within myself. Claiming to be a “professional” (if that’s what you call someone who gets paid to do what they do) at something that you used to do for fun can be incredibly uncomfortable. But I’ve had to do my best to check my self-doubt and confidence issues at the door because, frankly, my sketches suck when I think that way.
How much material for Studio C is adapted from Divine Comedy and how much is new?
The first season of Studio C was probably around 75% adapted Divine Comedy material, just to get the ball rolling. Since then, we’ve pulled maybe one or two sketches from DC per season, but the rest of the show is entirely written for Studio C.
What spiritual experiences, if any, have you had while doing comedy?
When we were first starting development for Studio C, I had a really difficult time justifying being so involved. I went to school for film—to make art and fight for success, and sketch comedy just didn’t seem important to me, especially when I’d be making it for a such a small station with no comedic roots or resources. But while I was in London for a study abroad, I had an experience that made me realize that being happy and enjoying what I did was worth so much more than any success or great art I might ever hang on my mantle. I’d rather be a happy human being for the rest of the world, than an ever-hungry one with a bunch of fancy successes.
You majored in film. Has your focus only been comedy or are you branching out into other genres as an actress, screenwriter, and/or director?
My focus in the film program was never necessarily comedy, although I do think even the heaviest of dramas benefit from a little comic relief. As much as I love sketch, yeah, I definitely hope to be able to branch into other things, especially sitcoms or dramas. I also love acting, directing, editing, and making music, so maybe my lack of specialization will open up other random doors for me at some point? Who knows. We’ll see though.
Where do you see your work headed in the future?
Ah man, I wish I knew. I have a goal to write a screenplay in the next year. I’ve always wanted to write/act for a sitcom or a drama. But I sincerely don’t know what’ll happen next. I’ll be perfectly honest—since graduating from college, I’ve felt less and less sure about exactly where I’m going but more and more okay with it.
How does the gospel influence your work?
The gospel is a huge part of the lives of the entire cast, so I think first and foremost, it provides a common ground for us all. We want to write stuff that is joyful and fun and unifying, so right off the bat we can all agree on our general standards. And then from there, I think it keeps us kind, it keeps us humble, and it keeps us grateful.
How do you see comedy in general, and your work in particular, helping to build the kingdom?
Comedy, when done right, can be incredibly unifying, and I think that’s one of the primary goals of the show—to bring people together. There’s also a big part of me that hopes what we’re doing is changing minds as far as what Mormons look like. We can laugh at ourselves, we can have a good time, just like anybody else. And for young kids in the Church, I hope we’re sending the message that you don’t have to associate being Mormon with being held back or being boring. You can go for your dreams and be successful, and the gospel will only help you. There is so much good, exciting fun to be had, and it’s just not true that the gospel would hinder that in any way.
If you could impart a modicum of wisdom to aspiring comedians, what would it be?
From my personal experience, the best thing I could tell you is to have fun. Your stuff is just bad if you’re doing it with any other motivation than to have a good time. ❧