“Sometimes in the arena you look really stupid.” a report from the Studio C fireside


Note: don’t forget your Saturday deadline!


It’s just down the 880 from me, but somehow I’ve never heard of the Silicon Valley Comic Con and so I didn’t know this was happening:


And because I somehow finally managed to unsubscribe from the golf-for-MBAs-laden BYU Alumni email list, I didn’t know about this either:

studio c

But Mormons morming as well as they do, I heard about both. And my kids were insanely excited to drive over to Temple Hill this evening to see their current favorite YouTubers. (This is a lie. Their actual favorites are these guys.)

I knew about Studio C when they were nascent, by which I mean I knew they grew out of Divine Comedy. But when I was at BYU, there were so many comedy troupes one tended to pick favorites and feel loyal. I picked Garrens because they were defunct and so cost me very little in time or money. And so, you know, screw Divine Comedy.

This disinterest was a bit embarrassing when I was at a movie-meeting-thingey and the biggest person in the room suggested Mallory of Studio C to play Ref. I . . . had no idea who they were talking about. After they flew me home, I watched all of Mallory I could on YouTube and agreed she should at least be auditioned. Then the whole thing fell apart la de la da and that was the last I thought about Studio C until Scott Sterling took the world by storm. My kids loved Scott Sterling and a month or two ago it occurred to them to watch more Studio C. Since then, it seems that’s all we watch together.

Anyway. 269 words and we still haven’t arrived in Oakland. Let’s go, shall we?

I have never been to a fireside with so much cheering and clapping and general verbal excitement. My eight-year-old son laughed in giant bursts even at things that might not have been funny. He was just stoked to be there, even back in the single-pixel-per-head seats. When the prayer ended and we were allowed to go take with-cast selfies, he and his friend and his brother disappeared and I didn’t see them for half an hour, and not for lack of sitting on a bench at the side of the room, let me assure you.

Executive producer Derek Marquis told the crowd that the ~1600 packed into the Oakland Interstake Center’s auditorium is the largest live audience Studio C‘s ever faced. They squeeze 200 people into the studio when recording (meaning ~19,800 ticket requesters are disappointed each night). In the last twelve months they’ve logged 200,000,000 views across platforms. Which makes them rather successful, don’t you think? And while Studio C doesn’t do anything explicitly Mormon, they are themselves explicitly Mormon should one care to look.

Marquis said that when he took the pilot to Salt Lake to show a certain anonymous Elder and eleven other people, said Elder X laughed nary a once. When it ended, he said, “I’ll never watch that. [beat] But my grandchildren would and that’s who I’m worried about.”

When I sat down to write this post, I expected to do an analysis of the talks and the way the cast members used humor and anecdote and allusion and some interesting diction choices to 1) overcome my, at times, irrational distaste for anything within seven hundred miles of the appearance of priestcrafts, and, more importantly, 2) to bring joy and life-direction-suggestions to the kids in attendance.

That sort of analysis would have been within the scope of Motley Vision‘s mission. But I’m at 562 words and I don’t want to write another couple thousand (which my notes would allow). So instead I’m going to look at a specific moment, that referenced in the title to this piece.

Mallory (she of the not-Ref fame) spoke of stage fright and—one of my favorite topics—failure. It’s easy to fail in comedy, of course. Comedy is honest that way. People laugh or they do not. Polite laughter is worse than none. Plus, as she pointed out, the nature of comedy is that, even in squeaky-clean correlated comedy, people gonna get offended. Then she quoted Teddy Roosevelt (made pretty here by Mental Floss):

“Sometimes in the arena you look really stupid,” Mallory said, capturing the nature of comedy quite nicely. But: “You’re the person in the arena, and you’re gonna kill it.”

May we all kill it is my prayer, etc etc etc, amen.

5 thoughts on ““Sometimes in the arena you look really stupid.” a report from the Studio C fireside”

  1. Thanks for your post. I was at the fireside, took no notes as my 4-year-old leaped all over me throughout the entire event, but I wished I could have recorded it for my 15-year-old who missed it (and for the rest of us to remember). Any chance of you using those notes for a longer post? Or just sending me your notes? 🙂

  2. .

    My notes are, mm, illegible. I pity the PhD student who stupidly decides in 2133 to write his dissertation on Thericonian scribblings. But I could do something…. I’ll think on this. Feel free to email if you like. (My email’s on the contributor’s page.)

  3. Another request for notes. Please. For posterity’s sake…and for the sake of the grandchildren of the anonymous one-of-twelve mentioned in your post.

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