Jaclyn Silvestri and John Newman enjoy creating comedy episodes from nothing.
“We start with no sketches, no props, no cast, nothing,” Silvestri said. “Somehow it just comes together, and that’s the coolest part because we create by ourselves from scratch.”
They describe their show as “DIY,” since everything is created by students, which allows the episodes to be creative and unique.
Silvestri, a senior media studies and production major, and Newman, a junior media studies and production and film and media arts double major, are the co-executive producer and director, respectively, of “Temple Smash,” an entertainment comedy variety show. The cast and crew are celebrating the show’s 10 anniversary with a tribute episode on April 25, featuring montages of clips from previous Smash productions. The episode will also include Temple alumni talking about what their time on Smash means to them and where they are now.
Jake Segelbaum, a co-executive producer and junior media studies and production major, said he expects an audience of about 120 people in Annenberg Hall’s Studio 1.
“We are college kids doing sketch comedy at a high-quality level,” Silvestri said. “I decided to book an overflow room because I am concerned about turning people away from the episode.”
According to Issak Griggs, the show’s managing producer and junior media studies and production major, “Temple Smash” is unique because it is entirely student-run and includes students from several majors. Scott McClennen, a 2011 film and media arts alumnus, created “Temple Smash” in 2009. The show’s crew consists of nearly 150 members, all contributing their time as writers, camera operators, set crew and actors, Segelbaum said. Notable participants include former student Quinta Brunson, who appears on BuzzFeed and ABC.
The “Temple Smash” crew films four episodes each year, two in Studio 1 and two performed live at the Philadelphia Improv Theatre. Episodes start with live sketches then transform into quick digital scenes. Each show typically features five live and five pre-filmed digital sketches.
Episodes start with the producers gathering the crew together, then moves to writers pitching sketches followed by auditions until finally, it’s ready for the performance.
“During this process, it is basically kids yelling at other kids,” Silvestri said.
The crew is taking on a huge task for the anniversary episode, Newman said. The show will feature four tribute sketches to prior episodes, nine live sketches and eight digital sketches for a total of 21 performances — about twice the amount of sketches in regular episodes.
“If you like comedy and passionate people, you should watch this episode,” Segelbaum said.
Griggs said the hard work and chaos of the show helps the cast and crew bond.
“There is definitely a little bit of cluster,” Griggs said. “But there is this feeling of unity or family around this aspect, especially considering we have just been through several weeks in hell together.”
“Smash is the best community and the best show,” Segelbaum added. “It has friendship and family, and ultimately, it is designed for everyone.”