Philly Improv Theater’s first digital sketch team, The Worst Generation, will begin releasing videos in September. Team director, Jon Plester, answered a few questions about what to expect.
What exactly is the Worst Generation (WG)? How did it come about?
The Worst Generation is the Philly Improv Theater’s first digital sketch team. Meaning we are the first team to produce all of our sketches in the digital realm, pre-filmed, and not acted out live on stage.
It’s an idea that’s been bouncing around Greg’s brain for a number of years, as I understand, and Jack O’Keeffe decided to put it into motion with the casting of the new sketch house teams.
What would you say is the goal of WG?
The goal of this team is to not only produce funny and entertaining sketch comedy videos, but to hopefully bring attention to the Philly comedy scene. We’ve seen local sketch groups like House of Solitude and The Incredible Shrinking Matt and Jacquie get attention on notable comedy websites like Splitsider and A.V. Club, and we’d like to be a part of that movement. We have so much talent in this community that need to be seen outside of Philadelphia.
How will videos for WG be cast?
Instead of having a set cast of people, like the live sketch teams, we’ll be pulling from all of the company members at the Philly Improv Theater. The intention being to showcase performers from PHIT in our videos with the hope that viewership will come from across the country, exposing these performers to an audience they otherwise wouldn’t have been exposed to.
Who will be filming/editing videos for WG? Do you have a set crew? I have Adobe Premiere Elements 14 (the latest edition) and a laptop with 8MB of memory if you need anything.
We have a crew of three cinematographer/editors that will be working with myself and the writers to shoot videos. These crew members are Evan Donn (All around All-Star), Matt Garren (of PHIT House Team PG-13), and Matt Merin (Best Friends TV Show, Two Late). They’re all talented filmmakers and an absolute joy to work with.
Premiere Elements 14 huh? Uh…wow! Yeah, we’ll, uh…definitely keep you in mind. For sure. Definitely…
Next to scheduling meetings and practices, naming a team is usually one of the bigger challenges. How did that process work for WG and how did you decide on WG?
Man, I wish I had a great answer for this. I just had the team pitch names online, and then one meeting we narrowed the best ones down. That’s it. It was Cassandra’s pitch. Rob really liked it. We voted. That’s all I got for you. I’m sorry, everyone.
How did you choose writers for the team? What were you looking for from individuals / as a group?
We chose writers through the same submission as the other new house team, The Decoy. Which I’m going to plug right now, because I saw their new show last night and it’s absolutely incredible. One of the most well performed, written, directed shows I’ve seen in a long time.
So I came into the process looking to build a team, five individuals that could work as a cohesive voice and fill roles in the writers room that I was trying to build. We aren’t putting up a full half hour show where everyone can showcase their individual sensibilities. Many times we’ll be focused entirely on one 2 minute video, where everyone’s voices need to be compatible in working together.
I think what’s interesting about the team is the variety of backgrounds they’re coming from. Max and Rob are both veteran improvisers who don’t have a ton of experience in sketch, Jess is somebody who I’ve worked with for several years at Temple Smash who only has sketch experience, Cassandra is an incredibly talented stand up, and Pat I’m pretty sure is the ghost of a Union soldier from the Civil War. So we’re constantly getting a variety of perspectives on a joke or idea. Even though Pat needs to stop pitching his sketch about the Battle of Antietam. We just don’t get it, you know? We didn’t live it.
When will we start seeing some WG videos? Where will they be found? How often would you be putting things out?
We’re going to start putting up our videos in September, every other Wednesday. You can find them being posted on our Facebook, being retweeted on Twitter, promotional chunks on Instagram, and most importantly on our Youtube channel.
Anything else people should know about the Worst Generation?
Personally, I’m very excited for people to start checking out the sketches we’ve been working on for the past couple of months, especially now that we’re currently in production. It’s definitely going to be unique, relying entirely on the internet to grace us with a bounty of views, hits, and shares. But, I think we’re going to have a quality product that people are going to be excited about and willing to plaster all over their social media pages. We’re already feeling the support of the community on our launch, which is wonderful.
Be sure to like and follow The Worst Generation to keep up with videos once they start!
Director: Jon Plester
Writers: Rob Alesiani, Cassandra Dee, Max Sittenfield, Jess Smith, Pat Szostak
Crew: Evan Donn, Matt Garren, Matt Merin, R.J. Payne
Youtube: The Worst Generation