Now that the collective mourning period for our beloved ginger host of “The Tonight Show” has set in, the grueling hunt to fill Conan’s void must unceremoniously commence. Sorry, too soon? Let’s be honest, this wallowing duration is sensitive and may have many shaking their fists at the heavens for weeks. But take heart, “Coco” worshippers, because the new UW Sketch Comedy Club may have the power to alleviate that aching vacancy of laughs.
The Sketch Comedy Club is a student organization formed at the end of fall semester and is headed by junior communication arts major Willie Barnes. Barnes, who started the club after realizing his life was growing depressingly akin to Jack Black’s in “Saving Silverman,” aims to provide a venue of expression for students interested in the writing and performance art of comedy.
“This school has unbelievable resources for student organizations, and I just thought this was a really good moment for me to put a conscientious and organized group together that could do this type of comedy,” Barnes said.
Have a penchant for “Saturday Night Live?” Worship the comedic genius of Kristen Wiig or appreciate an expertly delivered Andy Samberg digital short? Then this might just be the group for you.
“Our primary focus is going to be on making videos, like short “SNL” skits, and then we’ll post the videos on YouTube, send things on Facebook and just get it around on campus,” Barnes said.
Although improvisational groups, such as The Titanic Players, already exist on campus, Barnes thinks the Sketch Comedy Club can provide a different, more accessible medium for UW comedy that reaches beyond the campus community.
“There are some good improv groups here, but I didn’t think they had a physical presence on campus to the average kid,” Barnes said. “We’re going try to use YouTube to really get our stuff out there so that people all over campus, and hopefully people all over the nation will start watching.”
Even though producing short videos to be featured on YouTube is the preliminary goal of the club, Barnes and his comedic troupe are interested in practicing any type of comedy, be it stand-up or live performance.
“I’m hoping to set up a night at the Union where people could come and have a mini sketch comedy set, and anyone could contribute any video that they’ve made and we could show our videos and just have a good time,” Barnes said.
If the behind-the-scenes brilliance of writing or producing sketches ? ? la early Tina Fey ? is more of the comedic genius you’d like to exercise, the Sketch Comedy Club has a need for you too.
“You don’t have to be in a video,” Barnes said. “I’m sure we’re going to get outgoing and gregarious people, but we’re welcoming to everyone. There’s a ton of experience available for anybody who’s looking for a creative outlet.”
And what might that creative outlet look like? Picture an “SNL” writers meeting, minus the adorable Seth Meyers, but with the same sense of intelligent and absurd repartee.
“We’ll start out with one big brainstorm and then if certain people have certain ideas about something, we will have the opportunity to break off into groups and work on different sketches at the same time,” Barnes said.
So, as the descent into Conan withdrawal embarks on a fresh week, and Leno-chin domination looms over the nation, UW can breathe a collective sigh of comedic solace thanks to the Sketch Comedy Club and its diverse opportunities for students.
“There’s a lot of flexibility,” Barnes said. “If you’re interested in performance comedy you can do that, if you’re interested in filming or editing or creative writing you can do that too. You can always just come and meet a couple of people and if you’re willing to throw out some crazy ideas, then this is the place for you.”
The UW Sketch Comedy Club will have their first meeting Monday in the Caucus Room on the fourth floor of the Student Activity Center at 9 p.m.