BYUtv’s ‘Studio C’ is looking for funny people to replace current cast

Television • After six years, 10 original cast members are moving on to a secret new project.

(Mark A. Philbrick | Courtesy of BYU) The cast of BYUtv's "Studio C" is pictured in 2013.

The show will go on for BYUtv’s popular sketch comedy “Studio C” — but it will be a somewhat different show come spring 2019. The original cast and writers are leaving at the end of Season 9, which begins in September; a new cast and new writers will take over for Season 10.

“That was always the intent,” said writer/performer Matt Meese, who co-created the show and pitched the idea to BYUtv. “This is the natural evolution of it. I never thought, like, ‘The show will die when we leave.’ We didn’t want to make it ‘Monty Python,’ we wanted to make it ‘Saturday Night Live.’”

The search is on for new performers and writers for “Studio C,” and Meese and BYUtv managing director Michael Dunn point to “SNL” as the template for change — that show has cycled through more than 150 cast members and hundreds of writers and is still going strong after 43 years.

“We’re searching high and low,” Dunn said. “The cast has set an incredibly high bar, so we’ve got to get great people — both on the performing and the writing side.”

He’s hoping to find writer/performers, but didn’t rule out hiring some nonwriting performers or nonperforming writers.

Meese and the rest of the current cast are leaving to “pursue other opportunities,” although he declined to say exactly what those are — except that they have an upcoming project that will be family-friendly comedy and that it will be presented online.

“We were looking at the landscape, and there’s still a big, underserved audience for that,” he said. “If fans loved what we did on ‘Studio C,’ they’re going to love what we have in store next.”

Details will be announced “later this year” on the cast members’ Instagram accounts.

Current cast members were part of the Brigham Young University sketch comedy group Divine Comedy, and they translated their live performances to television. “Studio C” features sketches performed by Mormons on the channel operated by the LDS Church’s flagship university, but it has never been overtly Mormon.

“I would say that the only thing that makes us Mormon is the fact that we work clean,” writer/performer Mallory Everton said in 2015. “Other than that, we’re just trying to make people laugh as hard as anybody else.”

The series premiered on Oct. 8, 2012, and has aired 105 episodes to date. Meese, Everton, Whitney Call and Jason Gray 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.

No show has done more to raise the profile of BYUtv, both on cable/satellite and online. When “Studio C” debuted, BYUtv’s YouTube channel had gotten about half a million views; the number has risen to more than a billion.

“It’s our flagship,” Dunn said. “That’s why we’re so invested in the franchise.”

Studio C’s YouTube channel has nearly 2 million subscribers; one sketch alone — the soccer shoot-out with Scott Sterling (played by Meese) — has been viewed more than 61 million times.

Nonetheless, Meese said he was “very stressed for the first five seasons that it was going to get canceled. We didn’t know from season to season if they wanted to keep it going.

“Blessed be YouTube, because it really showed there was an audience out there that was hungry for it.”

The original cast will be getting a big send-off. They’ll leave their Provo studio to perform live in New York — at the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom — on Friday, Aug. 24, when they’ll be joined by “Saturday Night Live” cast member Kenan Thompson. He’ll host and perform with the “Studio C” cast.

The two New York performances will be edited into the Season 9 premiere, which is scheduled to air Monday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. MT on BYUtv. (Proceeds from ticket sales for the performances will benefit Make-A-Wish Metro New York.)

Meese didn’t rule out current cast members returning for guest appearances on future seasons of “Studio C.”

“We’ve been toying with idea of doing some collaboration, maybe as soon as next season,” he said. “We threw out the idea of doing maybe another Scott Sterling video.”