There’s bad television, and there’s television that’s so bad it’s good. Better yet, there’s television whose producers realize the potential for humor in all aspects of human life, choose to take themselves and their creation with a grain of salt, laugh in the face of adversity, celebrate bad music, tilt at windmills and create hilarious television. Long sentences aside, that’s the sort of television that “The Yale Show,” which airs every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 p.m. on the YTV channel, is. Next week marks the end of “The Yale Show’s” yearlong run, but its writers, hosts and producers — Alexander Cote ’05 and Nicholas Evans ’05 — are already looking ahead to their next projects.
“The Yale Show” began its run on YTV during the fall semester of this academic year. It was YTV’s first show, and is currently its only regularly scheduled program.
“Originally, we wanted to do a comedy radio show,” Evans said. “Then we decided to put on a TV variety show based around skits instead. Zander and I decided to host it — we pretty much just joke around on camera a lot, but it’s been a success.”
The show is built around its hosts: Cote and Evans usually interview a guest and host a musician. The show also features various skits, most of which are written by the two producers. Episodes of “Fire and Ice,” a parody of a soap opera (if one can parody a soap opera) are featured in each show. As the program has grown more popular, writers and actors alike have approached its production team with ideas and projects. But Evans and Cote continue to do most of the producing, writing, camera work and editing.
“Their concepts are very good, and Zander’s and Nick’s commitment to the show is amazing,” said Donald Smith ’05, a friend who acts on the show. “It’s the only show that plays every week on YTV, and it’s not a show that you do in your spare time — they’re putting a lot of time into making it a good show.”
“The Yale Show” is essentially independent from the YTV network. Tyler Golson ’04, YTV’s president and station manager, said such decentralization is fairly common at the network — about half of the shows and films aired on YTV are independently produced.
“[YTV] is more something that we initiated so that different people interested in making television could get together,” said Golson. “Some shows use the cameras and the other equipment that YTV owns, but in terms of content and creation, most of the shows are separate. We prefer that. Until YTV has its own studio, the general formula will have to be more like what Nick and Zander did, taking the initiative and having their own stuff.”
Most of the people involved with the show said they believe it is Cote and Evans’ cooperation that makes the show successful. Mina Kimes ’07, whom Cote and Evans approached to act in “Fire and Ice,” said what viewers see is purely the result of Cote and Evans’ shared sense of humor and dedication.
“They definitely are crazy,” she said. “But they’re two very funny guys, so they end up producing a really funny show.”
Although Cote and Evans’ success as a production team is the show’s strength, it also creates difficulties: the two producers are so used to working with each other that allowing someone else to participate in the production or training an extra hand can be time-consuming.
“We get help from various people,” Evans said. “But we do most of the work. We’re very used to working with each other by now.”
“We put so much time into producing the show — when you’re already spending hours working on it, adding five extra hours to train a new producer or teach someone how to use a camera can be hard,” Cote said.
Cote is a scene editor for the Yale Daily News.
The fact that the two producers know each other so well, however, also lends a flexibility to the show that allows it to be put together quickly and has helped it evolve from the 18-minute pilot into the 30-minute show that is on air today.
“We’ve expanded the cast through ‘Fire and Ice,'” Evans said. “This semester we applied for Sudler money, and now that the show is Sudler-funded, many of the episodes we put together this semester have been awesome.”
The show’s expansion has gained it a wider audience. Golson said more people have begun to watch YTV, and Jeffrey Kessler ’05, the writer of “Fire and Ice,” said viewers often approach him to tell him they enjoy the show.
“About ‘Fire and Ice’ — I’ve heard words like ‘comedic genius’ thrown around, but that’s probably a slight exaggeration,” Kessler joked in an e-mail. Evans and Cote originally recruited their friends and suitemates — such as Kessler — to participate in the show, and despite the show’s evolution, many of their close friends have retained their ties with the show. But the producers’ appreciation for originality and willingness to experiment has appealed to many viewers.
“I like the show because it’s really fresh and different,” Gabriel Llerandi ’07 said.
Despite the fact that the show was created with the help of a smaller group of people, it is now opening opportunities beyond that to almost everyone involved in it.
“This was my first opportunity to act, to do stuff in front of a camera and be on television,” said Eric Eskenazi ’04, an actor on “Fire and Ice.” “It’s remarkable how far I’ve come without formal training — the show’s allowed me to discover that I’m this kind of actor instinctually.”
The last episode of “The Yale Show” will air next week on YTV, but Cote and Evans have already started work on their next project, a sitcom they hope to tape early next semester and then release as the semester goes on. Both of them want to continue producing and working in television after leaving Yale next year.
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