Live from Studio C, it’s Fridays Live! That means the cameras are rolling on Ohio University’s own late night comedy show: Fridays Live.
This student media group produces several shows a semester, each livestreamed on Fridays Live’s YouTube at 8 p.m. on, as implied, Friday nights. The shows star student actors, writers, tech and directors who create a production full of sketch comedy.
“We’re trying to get a broader appeal for Fridays, because it is a media school club,” Lydia Smith, a sophomore studying media and social change as well as the co-producer of Fridays Live, said. “It is appealing to anybody who likes comedy, who likes fun, who wants to watch a show at the end (of the week). We have something to look forward to.”
Grace Palmatary, a junior studying film, is Smith’s fellow co-producer. Palmatary said she loves the ability to focus on making a fun show with limited stakes.
“I like the opportunity to be creative without the pressure of making something great, because I make short films too,” Palmatary said. “And I feel like there's a lot of pressure with making it perfect, because a lot of money goes into it and it's a whole weekend of shooting, and you spend like a month editing it. So you want it to be really good, and it's for school. But this is an extracurricular curricular. It's a lot less pressure.”
Although Fridays Live does not carry the same weight as a school assignment, the shows are a labor of love, and there is a lot of labor that goes into a production.
Smith detailed the intense planning and coordination that goes into each live show. She said there will be a writers’ room meeting the Sunday evening before where everyone pitches sketch ideas and they develop the ideas as a group. These ideas are turned into scripts, which are voted on at Wednesday’s read-through.
Once the list of sketches is finalized, executive board members launch into the planning stage, securing the order of the sketches, tracking down props, casting the skits and more on Thursday. Finally, Friday rings in show day, where the crew convenes at 4 p.m. and the cast joins at 5 p.m. The group then rehearses until their 8 p.m. live show.
"Friday is like, anything could go wrong,” Smith said. “Be ready for it, brace for actors not showing up or something.”
After the week’s work, the sketches typically run for about 45 minutes. In true SNL fashion, each show has a local host and musical guest, and even has “A News,” an Athens-centric style “Weekend Update.”
Palmatary said the group started in the ‘80s, originally as a late night talk show. In 2004, she said, the group really switched to a more Saturday Night Live format with live sketch comedy. For a while the group streamed via YouTube, then switched back to in-person shows. Now, after COVID-19, the group is back to streaming on their YouTube channel for their 49th season.
“There was an emergency file in the Google Drive that's like ‘in case we return to YouTube,’” Palmatary said. “We came back to in person and we were here in Baker performing at the theater. And then we finally moved into a classic studio in the RTV building.”
Sam Brandes, a junior studying film, serves as a writer, editor, co-DS director and cast member for Fridays Live. DS directors are in charge of the digital shorts, and Brandes helps coordinate all of the pre-filmed material for each livestream. Brandes said now there are only some sketches filmed in advance, with the rest as live performances, which was not always the case.
"We would shoot the shows and then edit them and then release them,” Brandes said. “We only recently got back into live streaming last semester.”
Although typically the shows avoid explicit jokes so as to not get lazy, on October 21, Smith said the team will host their “after dark” show at 11 p.m., which is their one show a semester that includes more raunchy comedy. The next performance for Fridays Live is this upcoming Friday, Oct. 14, and both the musical guest and the host will be Ethan Hess, a senior studying acting. The live format means anything can go wrong, and Smith encourages everyone to tune in and watch the group.
“I love that kind of controlled chaos,” Smith said. “The thrill, the live show. All the people that are so funny and so nice. They just want to make people laugh and that's the most genuine thing you can be a part of.”
Learn more about all that goes on behind the scenes of Friday’s in the video below!