Turn on, tune in
Local funny people take to public-access
Public-access television often gets a bad rap as being fairly boring. And for good reason. Given access to a cable television channel on which to entertain and inform, the public often chooses not to take part, leaving airtime to be filled with footage from government meetings and classical music performances.
In Butte County, however, there is reason for hope, as the Butte Community Access Channel (BCAC TV, Comcast channel 11) has been reinvigorated by local nonprofit arts-promotion group Friends of the Arts, under the direction of arts advocate Debra Lucero and filmmaker Skyler Sabine. The station opened a production studio in downtown Chico and over the past few months began adding a few original local shows—mostly on Fridays—to break up some of the boredom.
Some of the first community members to take advantage of the resources have been local performers—comedians, comedic musicians and just plain funny Chico people. I perused the offerings of three of BCAC TV’s new comedy/variety shows—which are also available on the station’s YouTube channel (www.goo.gl/kmqIt6)—and was pleased to find some fun, off-the-wall takes on television programming.
That’s That is “kinda like a talk show, but with skits,” says producer/writer and co-host Jeff Anderson. Anderson has been the most prolific thus far, having recently completed a 13-episode season. “The first motivation that comes to my mind is boredom,” he said, explaining how the show originated. “We live in a small, creative town, and everyone here seems to be actively doing some cool stuff, whether it’s art or music or what-have-you. I’m not a musician, I can’t paint or draw, but I’ve always been interested in media arts, so when I heard about the opportunity to have a show with BCAC, I jumped on it.”
Anderson’s plain delivery and dry approach to comedy is shared by much of his regular cast, which includes co-host Jesse Shepherd, “How to Score” sports commentator Lisa Marie Hiatt, Game of Thrones recapper Randall Morrison, leather-clad weatherman Elliot “Weather Daddy” Maldonado, foodie/forager Angie Taylor and fashion correspondent Lecosha Nail. There are also interview segments with guests from the community (Pageant Theatre owner Miles Montalbano, musician Donald Beaman, etc.), local-music videos and performances, and more. That’s That packs a lot of laughs, art and silliness into its leisurely paced 30 minutes. Reruns on Fridays at 8 p.m.; archived episodes on YouTube or at www.thatsthat.show.
Dream Show is similar to That’s That in its commentary/variety-show approach, but it leans more heavily on a group of characters, a handful of misfits operating in the realm of the fake, and ill-fated, show within a show of the title. The project is an offshoot of the ubiquitous Uncle Dad’s Art Collective, and the “Dream Show” is a reality show hosted by Danny Wardwell’s talking head alter ego and head dreamer Ruth and his wiggy musical sidekick Ben Colbeck (played by Bogg bass maestro Gavin Fitzgerald).
“With our strong points being both musical and comedy improvisation and a unique approach to video editing, we made a vehicle that shows off those elements,” said Wardwell, who also produces the show. “But, really, the best part is the quality time spent making and watching content we’re proud of.”
Actually, the show’s appeal lies in its contrast to that statement, such as in episode three, which Ben describes (accurately) as “a terrible episode.” It meanders to an anti-climactic close that features the co-hosts fumbling around, improving nonsequitors and talking to the cameraman in front of a green screen. New episodes are in the making; archives on YouTube.
When Sabine, BCAC’s program director, asked local comedian Kyle Bowen to do a show, Bowen initially felt that the audience-free format wouldn’t suit stand-up. Bowen said he eventually relented under the conditions that “I bring in a bunch of comedy writers [and] performers from the Chico comedy scene, and that the show be heavily edited to keep it moving.”
The pilot episode of Kyle Bowen’s NSFW demonstrates that meeting his conditions paid off. With funny, irreverent skits and performance clips from local comics (Annie Fischer, Steve Swim, Mark Joseph Leathers, Jerm Leather, Don Ashby and more), NSFW lives up to its “not safe for work” name for its potential to get you busted by HR for laughing at the likes of Leathers’ “An Awkward Homeless Moment” bit in your cubicle. Episodes in production to be shown on Fridays (after 11 p.m.); pilot episode currently on YouTube.