When Matt Meese, Whitney Call, Mallory Everton, Jason Gray, Adam Berg, Stacey Harkey, Natalie Madsen, Stephen Meek, James Perry, and Jeremy Warner joined BYU’s comedy group in the years 2007–2011, they had no idea that their humorous hobby would soon evolve into a highly successful comedic career.
“The first thing I ever wanted to do when I was a kid was act,” says Studio C’s head writer and actor, Matt Meese. “[My parents] encouraged that, but it was always like, ‘You know, you can do this on the side and get a real job.’” Little did Meese, his parents, or the nine other cast members of Studio C know that their humble beginnings as members of BYU’s Divine Comedy group would land them a place in the spotlight.
Did you know? Adam Berg has a twin sister and is the only Studio C cast member born in Utah.
“I probably took the most convincing to get to the point where I said, ‘Yeah, I should do this,’ but once I decided, no one could tell me otherwise!” Meese says of turning their comedy into a television show. And that determination is what started the ball rolling. More than three years ago, Meese pitched the idea of a 30-minute sketch comedy show to BYUtv producer Jared Shores, who liked the idea and set things in motion after a little more convincing from Meese. Named after the studio they started filming in at the BYU Broadcasting Center, Studio C quickly gained momentum. By Season 5, the main cast of four (Meese, Everton, Gray, and Call) had expanded to include Berg, Harkey, Madsen, Meek, Perry, and Warner.
Did you know? Jeremy Warner studied film, intending to do television and comedy.
This was never a path that the Studio C cast members expected to take, however. Perry started out as a software engineer, Harkey studied public relations, and Gray seemed destined for dental school. But when the opportunity to produce and star in a television show arose, they all jumped on board. As Warner puts it, “I guess you kind of fall into anything you get to do, but you choose to fall into it.”
“We got lucky with the timing,” Meese adds. “Everyone had always wanted to do this—we just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”
Keeping It Clean with Studio C
Today, Studio C has amassed an impressive number of followers and widened its reach. It is consistently the top-viewed show on its network, averaging nearly 40 million views per month between YouTube and BYUtv digital platforms. The unbelievable saves by goalkeeper “Scott Sterling” resonated with soccer fans around the world and in late 2014 became the group’s first video to reach 1 million views on YouTube. Today, Studio C’s YouTube channel has more than 1 million subscribers, and the “Scott Sterling” video has more than 46 million views. Filled with fun personalities and diverse topics, Studio C continues to accomplish its original purpose of reaching beyond the LDS community to provide clean humor for families around the globe.
Did you know? Stacey Harkey once crocheted a blanket after accidentally signing up for crochet instead of croquet.
Harkey has seen that influence in his own family, where his Baptist father loves to share his son’s work. Harkey says, “One thing that we love is that anyone who values clean comedy loves the show. So when it comes to being family-friendly, something you can watch with everyone, or something that aligns with your religion, anyone can watch it and appreciate it.”
But the cast is also still mindful of their LDS fans. In fact, Everton and Madsen recently enjoyed chatting with Sheri Dew at Deseret Book’s Time Out for Women and Time Out for Girls events.
Did you know? Natalie Madsen loves playing Dungeons and Dragons.
Amidst discussion about being women in the work place, they addressed relevant topics for young women. “We talked mainly about being yourself and self-esteem and touched on how to deal with criticism and people who are mean online,” says Madsen. “With our job we [deal with that], but youth are dealing with that now [too].”
Studio C’s positive influence has even caught the attention of Church leadership, with President Uchtdorf stopping by with his wife to watch a rehearsal in 2014.
No matter who is watching, the Studio C cast is guaranteed to find ways to provide clean, family-friendly comedy and share their own values with their viewers through the things they write and the way they act. “That really was the goal from the beginning—that families could sit down and watch it and everyone could enjoy it,” Meese says.
Did you know? Matt Meese is colorblind.
While the show is geared toward a general audience, references to the cast’s Mormon roots do appear in subtle, humorous ways, whether it’s Shoulder Angel singing a few words of the hymn “Do What Is Right” or a joking comment about the lack of caffeine in Utah. And let’s not forget the sketch “Message from Above” in which a pair of missionaries are mistaken for thugs coming to deliver a message from “the boss upstairs.” They have also regularly collaborated with big-name Latter-day Saints such as Shawn Bradley, The Piano Guys, Steve Young, and DJ phenom Kaskade.
“We want to make [our comedy] accessible to everyone,” Meese says. “Comedy has a nice way of bringing people together. It gives them this shared experience. I told everyone, ‘I want families quoting this to each other years after we’re done airing it.’ It’s something that they share together, and it’s like their own inside joke now.”
Did you know? Jason Gray was in a Dark Wing Duck commercial as a 9-year-old.
Speaking from the perspective of both cast member and father, Gray says he is grateful that his work is something he feels comfortable sharing with his children for years to come. “There’s nothing that we’ve done that I’d be like, ‘Don’t watch this one,’ or ‘We’ll fast-forward this part,’ which is good because I’m sure there are a lot of actors who probably love what they do, but they wouldn’t show it to their 12-year-old son.”