A group of comedians walks into the Frank Porter Graham Student Union on Saturday Night. It sounds like a joke, but considering their hobby, it’s a serious bunch.
They've got some big shoes to fill as they audition in UNC Student Television's "UNC's Next Top Host," a reality show that focuses on finding a student to succeed Jay Putnam on a late night talk show.
Rachel Schmitt, the marketing director of UNC STV, said finding someone to replace Putnam will be difficult.
“We had ‘Good Night with Jay Putnam’ last year, and it was really successful," she said. "We’re trying to find somebody younger preferably — like junior or below — who can carry it on through the next few years."
Senior Schyler Martin said the selection process is extensive.
“The process for these people is that they’re going to deliver a monologue. They’re gonna read, deliver some jokes, read a list of jokes and then we’re going to interview them," she said.
Martin also said she believes the selection process itself has entertainment value.
"Our goal for this is to do two things: to find a really good host that we can move forward with in the future and to make an entertaining reality show of us trying to find that host," she said.
Meanwhile, the hosting hopefuls congregated at a nearby Wendy’s table, joking around before being called in one by one to the audition room.
Many are freshmen, and more than a few heard about the audition on social media or decided to tryout on a whim.
Andrew King, who heard about UNC STV at FallFest, was one of those people.
"I went (to the STV meeting) and I was having fun and was like, ‘You know what? Maybe I’ll go down and tryout — maybe it’ll be fun,” said King.
Freshman Melissa Cordell found out about the audition from a Facebook invite.
"I think that’s awesome that we have something like that, and I think it’s a serious thing for people to think about, because there’s another form of art, and I think that all art should be supported," she said.
While the organizers of the audition had expressed concerns about nobody showing up, they were pleasantly surprised by the turnout.
“Honestly, every single contestant I have talked to, I’ve already thought, ‘This could be it, this could be it," Martin said.
She also explained that the panel of judges looks for certain qualities in a host.
"Everybody I’ve talked to is very personable, very charismatic, and that’s what we need," she said. "We need somebody who’s comfortable in front of a camera, who is comfortable talking to people, and I’m definitely seeing that. So yeah, I’m very optimistic we’re going to find someone good."
And even as the competition shaped up, junior Tomo Koguchi, a transfer student from Japan, managed to keep his sense of humor intact, especially regarding his qualifications.
“First of all, I think I’m the only Asian person here," he said. "So I mean, there’s quite an Asian population in UNC and I’m sure to grab the minds of those people. And I even have a British accent, so the British people might like me too. I think those are my two qualifications.”
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