NSTV Snags Spot On MTVu By Uploading Comedy Sketches

Jennifer Chen

By Jennifer ChenThe Daily Northwestern

The warnings are true: Anything you put online can be seen by anyone, anywhere.

In the case of sketch comedy group Northwestern Student Television, that was a good thing – because sometimes the person watching YouTube.com videos works for mtvU.

Just two months after uploading its sketch comedy skits to YouTube, NSTV received an e-mail expressing interest in its work from Stephen Schutzman, an mtvU production department coordinator. Schutzman wrote that he liked what he saw through the Web site and wanted to see the group’s sketches on mtvU’s “Fresh Produce.”

“We were very surprised; we were basically just expecting people from the NU community to view our work,” said NSTV executive producer Kathrina Manalac, a Communication senior.

“Fresh Produce” puts student productions on the air, “whether it’s a dorm talk show, breaking campus news, your own high-drama reality saga or a co-ed rugby game,” according to the network’s Web site.

College groups or individuals can submit content to mtvU, which then decides whether the work will make it onto national television.

New “Fresh Produce” shows premiere every Wednesday. Past clips include everything from tiny plaid ninjas to dinosaurs to yoga, all submitted by students from across the country.

The 42 members of NSTV hope to add Oregon Trail game spoofs, vampires and fat men with tubas to the list.

“This is the first opportunity to really screen our material in a media besides our premiere in the spring and YouTube and MySpace,” said Davey Vorhes, a head writer and Communication senior. “This is a new frontier for us.”

It is still uncertain when NSTV will make its debut on mtvU, though it ideally would happen in the next month, Vorhes said. The group is busy compiling DVDs of its best work to send to mtvU.

The group plans to send DVDs of the past two years’ work, as well as a “Best Of” disc with sketches from the past four years, said NSTV director Robert Boesel.

“They want basically as much as we can give them,” the Communication senior said.

Schutzman and NSTV executive board officers also are working out the legalities of the group’s use of popular music in several of the videos.

“It’s fine when we have our premieres at school, but we might have to get a release for our different music,” Boesel said. “But I heard MTV has a legal thing where they can play 30 seconds of a song without having to pay royalties for it.”

With mtvU as their first step out into the real world, NSTV officers said their next goals are to enter comedy festivals around the country and win a student Emmy.

“In the back of my head, I always imagined some big development deal coming out of our YouTube campaign, of people shaking our hands … but it came rather quickly,” Boesel said, laughing. “It’s mtvU, so it’s still within a college demographic, but I think this is a great start.”

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