With roughly ten minutes to go before the final rehearsal is scheduled to start, Joshua McNew, Producer and Production Manager, stands outside, taking a few deep breaths. After months of preparation, tonight, Saturday, October 12, marks the opening endeavor of STL Up Late, a new live comedy show aiming to provide some much needed entertainment with a mix of "Saturday Night Live meets Conan O'Brien" type of humor.
Though this first show is intended as a trial run with mostly friends and family in attendance, the stress and anxiety of pulling off an hour-long show in front of a discerning audience is still very real. But while McNew, show host Eric Christensen and the rest of the cast and crew are collectively scrambling a bit, it's clear neither nerves or pressure can dampen the mood -- because everyone in the room just keeps laughing.
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STL Up Late is a combination of sketch comedy, video shorts, interviews and musical guests, and, again, it's all live. The show takes place in a non-descript building at 3003 Locust in Midtown. McNew explains, "We went through a lot of places and this was basically the only space that would allow us to come in only on Saturdays." If the room isn't necessarily perfect, it's clear that a great deal of work has gone into transforming the space into an intimate setting where audience and actors are separated by only a few feet. By the time the stage lights kick on, the high-ceilinged art gallery suddenly feels like a true theater.
The whole production is the brainchild of host and general overseer Eric Christensen who took inspiration from live comedy shows in Chicago. Christensen serves as an instructor at the Improv Shop, an improvisational comedy theater in St. Louis, and thus saw an opportunity to start something similar with the talented people already assembled around him. Seeing the potential, McNew quickly jumped on board, along other familiar faces from the Improv Shop. "All of our sketch writers and actors went through the Improv Shop program," says McNew. "We basically tried to pick people we thought would be good for the show."
Continue reading to find out how you can watch STL Up Late and get free donuts.