Point Park Globe

Point Blank Live: first live sketch comedy show

U-View to stream first SNL-style program at end of March

The+acting+troupe+of+Point+Blank+Live%E2%80%99s+official+picture+taken+in+the+CMI+photo+studio.
The acting troupe of Point Blank Live’s official picture taken in the CMI photo studio.

The acting troupe of Point Blank Live’s official picture taken in the CMI photo studio.

Photo by Kari Dettorre | Point Blank Live

Photo by Kari Dettorre | Point Blank Live

The acting troupe of Point Blank Live’s official picture taken in the CMI photo studio.

Written By Robert Berger, Co-News Editor

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With exactly one month and ten minutes remaining until Point Blank Comedy goes live, show creator Alexander Popichak is frantically drawing a rough sketch of the GRW Theater to determine cameras, wiring and other logistics of a live broadcast.

Set for March 25 at 5 p.m., the GRW Theater will play host to a once-in-a-lifetime television experience involving a number of Point Park community members.

“I wanted to do something large scale, something live, something involving the whole Point Park Community and I didnt want it to be news-related,” Popichak said.

Drawing inspiration from shows such as Saturday Night Live (SNL) and In Living Colour, senior broadcast production major Popichak and freshman cinema production major Chris Copen began working on a Point Park-related sketch comedy show around four months ago.

“Before Thanksgiving break, Alex said he wanted to [do] a live TV project but didn’t have the creative people to do it,” Copen said.

The two hour show will take place in front of a live studio audience and will be streamed on YouTube. Tickets will be handled by EventBrite and are completely free of charge for all members of the Point Park community. Pioneer Records artist Gabe Reed will also be featured as a musical guest.

“I loved SNL growing up but I don’t like it as a whole anymore,” Copen said. “This kind of thing gives me the opportunity to write the Saturday Night Live I wish I could see every week.”

With Popichak coordinating logistics and Copen serving as creative director, the duo have enlisted a number of students to assist in the production of the show. These students include some cast and writers from the Conservatory of Performing Arts (COPA), broadcast students handling streaming and students to work behind the scenes.

“We have two people in the cast that aren’t actors, so that speaks for the talent Point Park has even outside of the acting program,” Copen said.

Along with students, Popichak has worked closely with Media Services, Point Park Athletics and the Student Production Services to ensure they have proper equipment to go on with the show.

According to Popichak, the idea of doing a live show began when he was working with WPPJ and U-View on live election night coverage.

The idea grew during the fall 2017 semester as Popichak was featured on Radio Somewhere Live, a live radio event held by WPPJ in which Copen helped bring together. The event featured university President Paul Hennigan and a number of local Pittsburgh officials.

“I saw the buzz this radio show had gotten and I thought, ‘Why not?’” Popichak said. “I did an interview with Chris and saw turnout was really good and they threw it together in just two weeks.”

A few weeks later, Popichak ran into Copen where he pitched the idea of wanting to do something live.

“I ran into Chris and told him I wanted to do something crazy, big and live,” Popichak said. “I told him that I’d like to do what you did for radio on television and have it be a one night only thing.”

Copen was on board from the beginning. He told The Globe that working on a show in the style of SNL is destiny.

“I always watched SNL and wanted to write for them when I was young,” Copen said. “When I told my mom about the show, she told me it was destiny to work on the project. She said that when she was in labor with me she was watching SNL towards the end.”

Copen explained the cast of twelve must overcome the challenge of learning to work well together.

“To do a comedy show you really have to trust the people you’re doing it with. You have to trust that they will be funny and have full trust in the material,” Copen said.

To gain experience working together, the cast performed an improv comedy set last weekend at Pittsburgh’s Arcade Comedy Theater.

Only having two weeks to get familiar with each other, Copen was very satisfied with how the performance went.

“We did it as a way to build the cast and bring them closer and on those fronts it really worked I think.”

Copen explained how honored he was to have the chance to perform at the theater.

“Arcade Comedy is one of the top comedy clubs in Pittsburgh so having the chance just to be there was incredible and a really good experience,” Copen said.

One writer and cast member is freshman screenwriting major Heather Peloza. Peloza was briefed by Popichak from the beginning and was interested ever since.

“Everyone is professional, and working on it is just like working on a real television project,” Peloza said. “I’m so excited to see these sketches come to life.”

Peloza also helped bring music to the show through her friend Max Franco, who is currently studying music composition at Youngstown State University and will work as the show’s composer.

According to Popichak, Franco, along with a team of musicians, will soon record an opening number along with transitional pieces for commercial breaks at Point Park Pioneer Records studio.

“When March 25 rolls around, what you will be seeing on stage and the live stream will be a culmination of four months of work across all disciplines across Point Park and a true showcase of student talent,” Popichak said.

Alexander Popichak also works as the USG beat writer for The Globe.

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