‘Studio C’ Season 9 brings new era for both series and original cast

PROVO — BYUtv’s “Studio C” Season 9 premiere next week marks new beginnings for the sketch comedy show and its 10 original cast members.

The original cast announced in August that the new season — which premieres at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, on BYUtv — would be its last before moving on to a new project to be announced this fall.

The Daily Herald recently caught up with BYUtv managing director Michael Dunn, original cast member Stacey Harkey, and Tori Pence, a newer addition to the cast who will remain on the show with Dalton Johnson. The three talked about the change and what’s in store for the future.

Harkey said although the original cast’s time at BYUtv has been “so awesome” and “a chance for us to grow,” the group decided to leave the show because “amazing opportunities came our way.”

“I think if the fans are a little sad, they don’t need to be because we’re going to be doing more for them, so hold tight on that,” Harkey said.

Dunn said saying goodbye to the original “Studio C” cast is like sending a child off to college.

“You’re so sad to see them leaving home, but you also realize the incredible opportunities that await them, and so that’s kind of where I’m feeling right now, just great appreciation and fondness for all this cast, who I forever and always will consider colleagues and friends,” Dunn said.

Pence said she is looking forward to moving forward with what the original cast has left behind.

“There was that hot second when they all told us, ‘Hey, we’re all moving on to do cool things,’ that it was like, ‘Oh, well, dang it, we just got here to have fun with you, and now you’re leaving us?’ ” Pence said. “But then it was like, ‘OK, thank you for this. Now it’s all ours.”

The “Studio C” cast recently traveled to New York City, teaming up with Kenan Thompson of NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” for two sold-out live comedy shows. A recording of that show will air Monday as the Season 9 premiere.

Pence said it was “wonderful” to hear Thompson validate the cast’s humor and to perform for an audience that has never experienced a live “Studio C” show. Harkey said he also loved that the performances showed the series’ audience is not limited to one geographical area.

“We were being recognized in Times Square, and it was a shock to me, but that was really cool to see that kind of support and energy out in the Northeast, the other end of the country,” Harkey said.

Season 9 will also bring back some fan favorites and parodies, according to Harkey.

“We’ve really blown it out of the water when it comes to some of the more cinematic sketches,” he said. “It’s just going to be a full-out party.”

Since its Divine Comedy (a scripted troupe at Brigham Young University) beginnings and first season in 2012, “Studio C” has developed a loyal fan base, which the cast has tried to involve in the series through events like table readings and live tapings.

“There’s no point in doing this if people aren’t amused, and so it’s really great to have people there to validate the jokes right there,” Pence said. “We are able to edit and cut out and pull pieces to make the best sketch.”

Melanie Gardner, who attended a “Studio C” table reading earlier this year with her family — including her 10-year-old daughter, Faith, a “huge” fan of the series — said she likes “Studio C” because as a mom, it’s nice not to have to worry about what her daughter will see when she watches the show.

“Nowadays little teasers and inappropriate things are thrown unexpectedly into so many kids shows,” Gardner said. “But I never have to worry when I hear that she is watching ‘Studio C’ because I can trust that she will not be surprised by an offhanded remark or displays of inappropriate lifestyles.”

Harkey said the original cast probably won’t announce its next project for another month or two. For now, the cast is “fully dedicated” to finishing “Studio C” Season 9 as strong as possible. In the meantime, Harkey encourages fans to watch the cast’s social media and individual Instagram accounts for updates.

“We’re done writing and performing for ‘Studio C,’ but we’re not done writing and performing for our audience,” he said.

“Studio C” fans can “look forward to more of the same plus more” as the series continues, according to Pence.

“That was the intention from the beginning of the thing is that it would be something that could continue without the original people, that it would go on and on like ‘SNL’ and have a revolving cast,” Pence said.

Those who are sticking around on the show will be involved in selecting the new cast for “Studio C” Season 10, she said.

“We’re all going to put our best foot forward here and try to find people who are just the most fun because I think that’s one of the most important parts of ‘Studio C,’ ” Pence said. “It’s why people are drawn so much to it, is that we are a group of friends and people who are having a good time together and then just creating something to share with everybody else.”

“Studio C” will continue to play a central role in BYUtv’s programming lineup, joined by a new family comedy block coming in 2019, according to Dunn.

“There’ll be other shows that viewers who love ‘Studio C’ can watch and enjoy and really enjoy this family comedy space — which I think, thanks to ‘Studio C,’ we’ve gotten quite good at and in fact established quite a wonderful reputation in the industry for being able to do this family comedy,” Dunn said.

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