UMN multimedia sketch comedy crew finds humor in staying home

Censorquip’s third sketch comedy show premieres on Youtube on July 10.

Censorquip members Jack Callahan, Alison Davis, Claire Nelson
Carter Starkey, Genevieve Krause, Clare Graney-Dolan, and Claire Farnham, from top left, meet virtually to discuss their upcoming show, As Seen on TV on Sunday, June 21.

Jasmin Kemp

Censorquip members Jack Callahan, Alison Davis, Claire Nelson
Carter Starkey, Genevieve Krause, Clare Graney-Dolan, and Claire Farnham, from top left, meet virtually to discuss their upcoming show, As Seen on TV on Sunday, June 21.

Nina Raemont

No generation knows how to find the humor in horrible situations quite like Gen Z. And Censorquip, the University of Minnesota’s newest multimedia sketch comedy group that began producing sketches during the first few months of the pandemic, knows this best. With their third sketch comedy show premiering on Youtube on July 10, Censorquip finds the humor in staying home. 

Composed of incoming second-year students, Censorquip began when a group of seven friends wanted to try their hands at writing and producing sketch comedy. With many members already in improv groups on campus, sketch comedy became a way to explore topics that were on the group members’ minds as well as cope with the craziness of a COVID-19 world.

“It’s such a shared experience,” Carter Starkey said. “We draw inspiration from these things, but we also look for humor as a coping mechanism for creating content and camaraderie.”

Unlike other comedy groups on campus, Censorquip utilizes YouTube to share its sketches. The crew focuses on approaching sketch comedy in a different way. Jack Callahan, a member of the troupe, mentioned that many comedy groups, like Saturday Night Live, tried to initially force content that only worked in-person or live.

“We try to come up with out-of-the-box sketch comedy ideas that don’t feel clunky,” Callahan said in regards to the use of video for sketch production.

Some ideas the group has explored in past shows include a bit that features the members melodramatically introducing themselves as different reality TV tropes, a Club Penguin sketch with a script performed by two penguins on the site and a sock puppet President Joan Gabel announcing that, for the rest of the year, all university activities will be held on the “Goldycraft” server. 

In the short two-minute video, sock puppet Gabel tells students that they can recreate all their favorite memories, like “living in the dorms, going to your favorite events at the Union, going to the wrong class, scary people shouting at you on the quad or visiting your friends from Wisconsin or Iowa in the Minecraft underworld, right where they belong.”

Each comedy show is witty and creative — using animation, Zoom video, stop motion and other digital platforms for sketches — and pokes fun at the absurdity of current events.

“We’re spinning the joke on the establishment,” Callahan said. “A handful of our jokes are on the University’s transition problems [to the online format] and handling of the transition and jokes on our society. The quip of Censorquip is making fun of censorship and established rule.”

Claire Nelson, lead editor, chimed in on the reasoning behind the group name. 

“The idea of Censorquip we settled on was this idea of the 1950s propaganda from that time. There was the red scare censoring what you say,” said Nelson. “The full image of the brand that we’re trying to go for is bright and colorful, but watch your mouth!”

Their next show, premiering July 10 on Youtube, explores themes of capitalism and more “goofing on large scale institutions doing dumb things,” according to Starkey. But, the group isn’t all political commentary.

“We like to do political commentary, but we also make sketches on Footloose,” said Censorquip member Clare Graney-Dolan. “There’s a lot of goofiness going on.”