Kickstarter to Know About: Two Days Left to Bring "STL Up Late" to TV
In 2013, Eric Christensen (influenced by late-night greats Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien) pitched the idea of a theater performance spotlighting local musicians, politicians, artists, and business owners to local filmmaker Joshua McNew.—now producer of STL Up Late. In just two short years the production—Christensen is host; McNew is producer—has earned top accolades from local press. Now, the team has an offer from local CBS affiliate, KMOV, to be broadcast on television. With two days and $2,500 to go to hit their $35,000 goal, ALIVE sat down with McNew to find out what the show’s plans were.
How did the show get started?
Most of us met at a local improv shop. [McNew] was an instructor there. He and I started working on video stuff together, and one day he asked if I wanted to do a late-night talk show. I said “Sure,” and we started putting together the cast.
Why bring “Up Late” to KMOV?
The show is there to introduce the city to the city. Talented people, talented bands—we want to get it out there. We want to be that platform where people can come and tell their story. Bringing our show to broadcast is a really great way reach more people and introduce more people to the city.
Who would be an ideal guest to interview?
Really any famous St. Louis celebrity, like John Hamm, John Goodman, Ellie Kemper. To have support from someone at that level would be really great. The Price is Right announcer George Gray was on the show. He loved it so much, he asked to come back. We did this game with him called “STL Craigslist Price is Right” where we picked items for sale in St. Louis, and audience members would guess the price for them. We picked the ones with the most ridiculous descriptions, and to hear him read them was really funny. For TV we plan on having him do some guest announcing, like Andy Richter or Higgins.
What other segments could TV viewers expect?
We really try to marry the two ideas of SNL and a late-night talk show. The sketch element of SNL—unapologetically going through a sketch—we’ve been doing that for two years now and people love it. Video segments, some prerecorded stuff, interactive segments where we play a game with the audience. Of course the interview and music guest or—we’ve never done this before—a stand-up comedian or a segment from a local theater group.
Why a Kickstarter?
Main reason: It’s not appealing to an investor. It’s a passion project for me and everyone who is involved. The money we make goes back into the show, production, design, all that stuff, so we had to crowd-source it. And I like the idea that it only gets made if it gets funded. If someone donates to a project trying to reach $35,000 goal, and they only raise $1,000, it’s then becomes a different project.
What is the crew like for this show?
There are a lot of people involved—probably about 25 of us who are working equally as hard as the rest, putting all of our spare time into it. The host, Eric, has dedicated his life to making people laugh and he’s really really talented. He’s good at working with everyone and bringing out the funniest in them.
What’s next for “Up Late” if the goal is not reached?
We will continue to do new shows in our new theater. It’s called The Marcell, and it’s located one block north from Urban Chestnut on Washington Ave. The entrance is a little tucked away, but we like that. We had the opportunity to move to a bigger studio, but we like the feeling of it being tucked away. We’ve been operating under that feeling for a while. If we don’t make it, we will go back to the drawing board and figure out what’s next.
Be sure to visit STL Up Late’s Facebook for news and updates on the team.