Most students know “OSL” as the Office of Student Life, the much appreciated group which coordinates housing, student leadership and convenient sticky yellow ID holders for phones. However, students will have to expand this traditional definition with the rise of the College’s new sketch comedy club: the Office of Student Laughs.
The Office of Student Laughs officially began last spring. Its birth is credited mostly to Ari Basche ’16, one of the members of an informal group of students interested in sketch comedy but without clear structure or purpose. As a first-year, Basche was introduced to the group by two then-seniors putting together sketch comedy shows that were later performed during Winter Study. The next year, Basche explained, she “took the initiative just to make it a real group – got the people together, talked about making our name, what we were going to call ourselves, made it a thing and started doing what we do now.”
What does the Office of Student Laughs do now? The group writes and creates online sketch comedy videos. Last semester, OSL produced five videos available on its YouTube channel, ranging from a skit about declaring majors to a skit about a bar of soap working as a detective.
OSL hopes to create two rounds of five videos each this semester. The first round will hopefully be released sometime in the middle of the fall semester; if not, OSL may end up just releasing one large round of videos at the end, according to the group.
The group is made up of a team of writers, actors and video technicians. “There are a lot of different moving parts and there are definitely different interests that it takes to put that together,” said OSL co-founder, Gideon Hess ’16. A core group of about 20 writers holds an initial pitch meeting and then works on one of two nights a week dedicated to writing. The best part of being in the club, according to Hess, is “being in the room with all of the people because everyone wants to create things … When you have people creating stuff together it’s uplifting, it’s fun.”
Basche agreed: “I think everyone is just supportive of each other because it’s a group writing process when we write. I think a safe space and a creative space kind of go hand in hand because it’s kind of hard to speak your mind if you’re not comfortable. Also I think it’s just a fun thing – we’re getting together and being really silly. The pitch meetings are a lot of fun – we have a huge list of ideas that are just absurd, so the vibe at the pitch meetings is definitely all jokes.”
Although Basche, Hess and other OSL members have performed and directed Frosh Revue, OSL is different from other comedy groups on campus. Unlike Combo Za, OSL is not improvised or live; they make scripted videos. “You use the same kind of skill set in trying to think of funny things, but it’s very different,” explained Basche. “With the videos, you can actually shoot the guy in the library and he’s there and it’s not imagined. … Frosh Revue is focused on being a parody of Williams and our hope is to make things that anyone would find funny, not just at Williams.”
How can interested College students get involved in the Office of Student Laughs? They can begin by contacting Basche, Hess or anyone else in the group to find more information about meetings. Follow the advice of Hess: “Ask around, join us. We always want more people, we always want fresh blood.”