The SNL-like, parody show Fall Follies is back this year with new sketches, videos and a talented cast of student actors and writers. The shows will run Friday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 24 at 2 p.m. and again at 7:30 p.m. in the Massey Performing Arts Center.
The Follies crew has been constantly working on material since the fall of 2014 and adding the final cuts to the show since August. To get a better idea of this year’s cast, senior writer Rob Knepper and senior cast member Ross Collier answered a few questions.
What was your goal in writing the sketches this year?
I like to aim to have the skit be so ridiculous and confusing in its humor that the audience doesn’t have a single second to slow down and realize what they’re laughing at. That way you can get away with a lot more one liners and such that might not work in a slower skit. Some have referred to my writing as a “fever dream,” which I take great pride in.
How are the sketches different from years past?
Historically, Fall Follies was more of a school-spirit pep rally type of thing. It then transformed into a satire of school-culture, which was a well that seemed to dry up pretty quickly. But last year especially, it seems that Follies took a big turn towards broader (and hopefully more clever/original) topics and forms of comedy, thanks to the vision of Ike Flitcraft. This year continues in that vein, and I think we’ve done a pretty terrific job of making our jokes not dependent on the audience “getting” Belmont culture and grievances. That’s more exciting for us as writers, too, because we’re now writing skits that still make sense completely out of the Belmont stratosphere.
What do you want the audience to know going in? What do you hope they’ll take away?
As long as people don’t come in expecting it to be the Follies of the past that basically stuck to the “caf sucks! Practice hours are oppressive!” mantra, I think they’ll really enjoy it. Comedy shows should be a place for giggles, not resentment. Sometimes it seems like satire is trying to start beef, but I’d argue that satire is instead a positive interpretation of reality.
What content, ideas, campus themes did you draw from?
We’ll be hitting on some good topics relevant to the past semester, mixed in with lots of unexpected themes that are pretty great, too. For the Belmont-specific jokes, expect topics like SGA, parking, 125th anniversary and fancy coffee shop names. We tried sticking to skits that were set in easy to establish environments, so the premise didn’t need to be communicated as much.
Describe your role in Fall Follies.
My role in Follies is the senior advisor — yeah, I’ve been around the block a few times. More so than the new folks — the ol’ youngsters. I’m an old guy — they all know me from being their RA, or from moving them in on move-in day. So they respect me. My role is typically giving some of these young hoots some sagely wisdom, playing some of the supporting roles in the show, and — may I humbly mention — doing some of the graphic design for the show. We re-made the logo this year; I call the aesthetic “classy grunge.”
What scene are you most looking forward to?
I’m most looking forward to a “sketch” (I can’t reveal the name yet) that may “involve” a “song.” One you may have heard before — let’s just say if you’ve been to “whole foods” you might get a kick out of it. Look for it at the end of Act I!
What is the group like this year?
I think that this year, the group is a whole lot tamer. It used to be a rowdy group — staying up late on Friday nights, Tarantino movies, caffeine past 9 p.m. — the whole nine yards. I think we’ve changed. Since last year, we have continued to move towards a bit of a friendlier show. Instead of criticizing folks and harping on negativity, we try to dig into content that is born out of a more positive place.
Who is your biggest celebrity influence?
Sylvester Stallone. Rocky IV is a masterpiece. “He is like a piece of iron” — I mean, who else could write something like that?
How does it feel to be the most hilarious man on campus?
It’s great. Really great — but believe you me, the high is short lived. It gets scary real quick. You walk into the Beaman, and everyone drops quiet — you can hear a pin drop. Then, all at once, they start laughing, and laughing… Uncontrollably… Unending… Just laughter from the roof to the floor. I can’t talk to anyone — they just sit and laugh and laugh. You think you’d want that fame until you realize how deafening that solitude becomes.