‘Canyon Night Live’ to present sketch comedy show
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
“Saturday Night Live,” the popular show of sketch comedy that has been on television for twice as long as many Grand Canyon University students have been on the planet, will receive a GCU twist this week with “Canyon Night Live.”
“CNL,” hosted by instructor Michael Kary, directed by sophomore Ryan Usher and with a cast of more than a dozen student performers, will be presented at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Thunderground, which has served this year as home base for the Cantalopes improvisational comedy troupe. The 90-minute show will include at least a dozen comedy sketches, three digital-film shorts and live music. Admission is free.
“CNL” is a student-driven production that marks the directorial debut of Usher, whose onstage talents have been seen this year with the Cantalopes and in Ethington Theatre productions.
“Now I’m making the choices I usually get mad at, as an actor,” Usher says of his director’s role. “Making people stay late and things like that.”
The year has been busy for the Cantalopes, who have put on at least two dozen shows on and off campus. They’ve packed Thunderground on several Friday nights, playing to audiences of current and prospective GCU students and giving Thunder Alley’s lower level a hip, nightclub feel.
Open auditions were held for “CNL,” and rehearsals began more than a month ago. Usher says he hopes the show will be performed on a regular basis in 2014-15 and even streamed online.
“Sketch work is all just written-down improv to me,” he says. “You start with an idea and you improv with it. That’s how you write it. It’s loose and free, not someone else’s script. It’s written by us, and it can be changed by us.”
The set, Usher says, will be minimalist: folding chairs, a sofa and a table. That’s the way sketch comedy looks at places such as The Second City in Chicago, which has sent a number of its alumni on to “Saturday Night Live,” including John Belushi, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tina Fey.
Usher says the “CNL” sketches will stick to life at GCU. One will be about an overnight lock-in at the Student Union, another about a “Roommates Anonymous” meeting.
Although he’s the director, Usher isn’t taking a break from performing — he’s also part of the “CNL” cast.
“I can do so much weird stuff with this body I’ve got,” he says.
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.