“Laugh Tracks” is the fruition of senior Alexis Williams’ vision for a new live sketch-comedy show on Elon Student Television (ESTV).
“I have always just been a huge comedy nerd,” Williams said. “I love Saturday Night Live — it’s one of my favorite shows.”
While working as an engineer for ESTV this past year, Williams worked behind the scenes on various news and talk show-style shows. She noticed that there weren’t any live-scripted shows, and through her love of live sketch-comedy, she knew that was something she wanted to bring to Elon.
Williams pitched the show to ESTV in an online application she found on their website during Winter Term 2016. After meeting with the organization, Williams received clearance to film a pilot that she would have the entirety of spring semester to film.
Williams based the format of the show on a similar structure to SNL: four to five live sketches, a digital short and a live musical performance.
“[ESTV] was pretty receptive of it from the get-go,” Williams said. “They reviewed it, and luckily, they chose to pick it up.”
As the executive producer of “Laugh Tracks,” Williams oversees the entire production of the show, a process she describes as “very intensive.”
Writers meet every Wednesday and submit sketches, which Williams helps review, to the head writer. At writer’s meetings, all scripts are read over so the executive team can provide edits and feedback. From there, Williams, the assistant producer, the line producer and the head writer decide which scripts to film.
“We choose based on which is funniest and which is easiest to produce,” Williams said.
“Laugh Tracks” is filmed biweekly in the virtual studio in McEwen, giving the cast and crew time to prep and write each live-sketch performance. Photo courtesy of Alexis Williams
Actors have a week to memorize their lines while directors block out the scenes. The night before filming is spent rehearsing and stacking the order of the show. On Thursday nights, “Laugh Tracks” is taped in the virtual studio.
The thirty-minute show is filmed biweekly to accommodate the cast and crew’s schedule and create a more successful show. This cast and crew is made up of mostly freshman students, such as Sadie Stuart.
As a theater arts minor, Stuart knew she wanted to be a part of an ESTV show, and “Laugh Tracks” was the one that caught her interest. As an actor in the cast, Stuart is able to fulfill her love for comedy and explore various production roles.
“I act, but I’ve also produced a sketch,” she said. “I’m trying to dabble in directing and producing more. I love to be on camera and I love to be funny.”
Stuart said the “Laugh Tracks” cast is fun and tight-knit and she hopes to continue to grow within the group as an actor and leader during her next three years at Elon.
“There’s so many clubs and so many organizations here that sometimes it can be overwhelming,” Stuart said. “‘Laugh Tracks’ gives me a steady schedule of doing something that I love.”
Williams believes that the drive and dedication of members like Stuart will keep “Laugh Tracks” going as the show moves forward.
“With our head staff being all seniors right now, [the members] know that the future of the show is on them,” Williams said. “I think a lot of them are up to the challenge. I feel pretty good leaving the show in their hands.”
Williams’ vision for the future of the show is to recruit more members for a larger cast and crew and to achieve a smoother workflow.
“I’d love to see it develop into a show that has mastered its schedule,” Williams said. “As long as it keeps going, I’ll be happy.”