On the night of Wednesday, March 12, just a few minutes after 11 p.m., the 12th floor of Piano Row was silent — except for the various noises emerging from suite 1205.
There was a lot of yelling, and occasional banging, thumping, and crashing. Behind the front door sat sophomore visual media arts major Austin Dodge and 11 other sophomores and freshmen who were already immersed in their chaotic world. They were sitting among elaborate decorations, from decorated paper plates hanging on the walls, to colorful signs and banners all around the room, to the most beautiful finger-drawn window paintings on campus. This is the set of Show.
As members of the crew faced off in an epic lightsaber battle in front of him, Dodge explained that Show is a talk show-style web series created and hosted by Dodge, which premiered its first episode Feb. 23. From Billy the "band boy" leader, played by sophomore journalism major Billy Boorn, performing his riveting original untitled song; to insights analyst Herbert Andrews, played by sophomore visual media arts major W. Logan Freeman, presenting his charts to the audience; Show is nonstop improvising and “guest” appearances that make for one hilarious 18-minute broadcast.
“Show was originally created to showcase Emersonian talent by giving everyone on the crew full creative control,” Dodge said, “and by giving everyone full creative control, we can get fully creative.”
One way that Show gives the crew creative freedom is in the way the set is designed and contributes to the broadcast. Sophomore visual media arts major Alejandro Peña creates the set for Show and the cast has to work around it, rather than designing a set based off a script. According to Pena and members of the cast and crew, the ideas for Show are formulated in the same disorganized, free-for-all way in which this meeting seemed to be conducted.
“It’s not like your average writer’s room,” said Pablo Escobosa, freshman visual media arts major and writer for Show.
“It’s the idea of a writer’s room, but instead of everyone taking their turn to talk, everyone just collaborates the whole time.”
But what separates Show from many other user-generated comedy vlogs is its live presentation. Rather than re-recording and editing, the program broadcasted its first episode immediately to more than 400 viewers.
“We pride ourselves in making mistakes because that’s what’s funny,” Dodge said. “If you’re watching a live event and someone messes up, that’s awesome. We’re not trying to shy away from mistakes, but rather, embrace them.”
According to Dodge, the inspiration to start Show came from a craving for creative control that The Emerson Channel couldn’t fix. Sophomore visual and media arts major Jackson Marchant was, and still is, working on multiple behind the scenes aspects of Emerson Channel’s Lion’s Den, from writing to lighting to cinematography.
Dodge was a host of the program, and the two came together to co-create Show because, despite their respect for The Emerson Channel, said they wanted an outlet separate from the restrictiveness of all the paperwork and rules associated with its programs.
“Basically,” Dodge said, “Show is trying to break all standardization as far as media goes by taking the rules, breaking them, creating your own, and changing them constantly.”
But Show isn’t the first video project Dodge has tackled using the internet. Since YouTube’s conception in 2005, Dodge says he’s been intrigued by user-generated content. In 2008, he decided to create a channel of his own.
“I’ve planned on using my YouTube as a way to archive my existence,” he said, “whether it be eighth grade, floppy long hair Austin who was a total dingus, or current Austin with floppy short hair who’s still a dingus.”
Dodge will be attending the sold-out Playlist Live at The Caribe Royale in Orlando, FL, a convention open to YouTube personalities and fans for performances, meet and greets with fans, and collaboration, the weekend of March 21. Dodge mentioned instances where YouTube users that he’s followed since he started watching vlogs have encouraged him to keep up his work on Show, so Playlist Live is a perfect opportunity for him to meet with them face-to-face, he said.
Dodge said the response to Show from his long-time viewers has also been positive overall. He said he is excited to meet and interact with people who have watched his life unfold in his videos for so many years, since he and the rest of the Show crew don’t plan on stopping the production of these episodes anytime soon.
“We’re all just Emerson Lions,” he said, “trying to fluff our mane and roar proudly out here in the creative Sahara.”