Late-night television group The Blackout continues to grow and inspire the comedy scene on campus


Photo courtesy of Brandi Simpson

(from left to right) Communication senior Jay Towns, Bienen sophomore Olivia Pierce and Communication sophomore and The Blackout season seven host Finn Rollings playing a game at the fall 2021 show.

Andrés Buenahora, Reporter

“Think Colbert meets Key & Peele…now lower your standards. A lot,” The Blackout’s logline reads.

The Blackout is Northwestern’s Emmy-winning part-late-night, part-comedy show. Founded in 2015, the group creates television sketches written, directed and produced by students. Every quarter, a crew of more than 100 students puts on The Blackout’s live variety show. The hosts change each quarter and the show features guest appearances, comedy skits and more.

The organization is committed to lowering barriers for entry through its commitment to accessibility, something that has helped it maintain its growth over the past several years.

“I came in without a lot of (Radio, Television and Film) experience…so it was sort of low-pressure in that way,” said Communication senior and live show producer Evelyn Greenlee, who joined The Blackout as a freshman.

This approach adopted by The Blackout, coupled with the opportunity to get involved with film and the creative arts at NU, attracts many students to the organization.

Communication sophomore Carolyn King said producing sketches for The Blackout gave her the chance to use her planning and problem-solving skills in new ways. As a segment producer, King helps the filmed segment producer with sketches over the course of the quarter. Producers at The Blackout typically run the logistics of the production, like organizing a crew, scouting locations and managing costumes and props.

King said the people involved are a highlight of her experience in The Blackout.

“People in this group are very friendly and creative,” King said. “I didn’t know really anyone when we started shooting (my sketch), but within a few minutes, we were laughing together.”

Communication sophomore and segment producer Nick Leahy said he joined The Blackout because he was interested in getting involved with the arts at NU as an RTVF transfer student.

“Blackout’s different because it has its own live show at the end of each quarter,” Leahy said. “(Communication sophomore) Finn Rollings hosted this fall’s live show. We had special musical guests, showed the segments and even had a surprise virtual appearance from Stephen Colbert.”

Unlike other film groups on campus, The Blackout focuses on the live-show and late-night aspect of NU’s comedy scene.

The organization has also managed to continue production during the pandemic, concluding Fall Quarter with its traditional live show.

“We’ve gotten people who aren’t even freshmen yet to say they’re interested in joining The Blackout, so it has a reputation outside of the school that people know about,” Greenlee said. “Multiple people have said that they’ve written in their ‘Why Northwestern?’ essay that they want to be in The Blackout.”

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Twitter: @AndresBuena01

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