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Pierce: BYU's 'Studio C' trying to prove that Mormons have a sense of humor

Published April 2, 2013 2:31 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Is there such a thing as a Mormon sense of humor?

"I sure hope so, in the sense that I hope Mormons as a people are able to laugh," said Jared Shores, producer of the BYUtv sketch comedy show "Studio C," which begins its second season Monday at 8 p.m. on the cable channel.

"Studio C" is on the Mormon-owned station, it's written, produced and performed by Mormons — but it doesn't scream Mormon. Except in the most generic of ways.

"I would say that the only thing that makes us Mormon is the fact that we work clean," said writer/performer Mallory Everton. "Other than that, we're just trying to make people laugh as hard as anybody else."

"Studio C" is something akin to "Saturday Night Live" without the sex jokes. Whether it strikes you as funny or not, it won't offend you.

"What we're aiming for is families looking to laugh," Shores said. "We've had positive response from kids as young as 3 or 4 and people as old as 80 or 90 who are saying, 'I haven't been able to watch comedy for so long.' "

"Studio C" is goofy and silly. A sketch here about a zombie at a barbecue. A sketch there about a blind date with Voldemort.

And there are a few recurring characters, like the Shoulder Angel.

Some sketches are funnier than others — and I'll admit I laughed really hard at one gag when I attended a recent taping.

"Studio C" grew out of the BYU troupe Divine Comedy. Everton, Whitney Call, Jason Gray and Matt Meese do most of the writing and form the core of the cast, which includes James Perry, Adam Berg, Natalie Madsen, Stephen Meek, Stacey Harkey and Jeremy Warner.

Lots of Mormons. Lots of BYU connections. But if you're sitting in your living room in Kentucky or Oregon or Pennsylvania — if you happen across the sketches on the Internet — you might think "clean-cut" but you wouldn't confuse this with "The R.M." or "The Home Teachers."

"This show doesn't try to play to inside jokes," Shores said. " 'The Singles Ward' and those kinds of comedies definitely spoke to the people of Mormondom, if you want to call it that. But we're trying to prove that people of all backgrounds or religious beliefs — people of faith or not of faith — want to laugh."

Because there are many folks under the impression that all Mormons are about as spontaneously funny as Mitt Romney.

"We hear from a lot of people saying, 'Whoa — we didn't know you guys have a sense of humor,' " Shores said. " We've also heard from people within the Mormon culture saying, 'Thank you for doing this to prove that we have a sense of humor. And that we're not just this tight-knit, insular group.'

"It's a great joy to be part of that and showing we like to laugh as much as anyone else."

Scott D. Pierce covers television for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at spierce@sltrib.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.