Boston College TV puts out sports, news, and celebrity gossip segments each week-things that a majority of BC students might care about. A key element that’s missing, however, is laughter.
Enter Goose Crossing, a new sketch comedy group on campus founded by John Schettino and Jesse Nicholas, both A&S ’15.
“They were all just lacking a little bit in humor,” said Schettino, who acts as co-executive producer alongside Nicholas. After a few phone calls to gauge interest over the summer, the two founded the group at the beginning of this school year.
“At first it just started with me and Jesse pulling in random people each week, but now we have a core group of committed people who come to our weekly meetings, help us brainstorm ideas, and then act in our sketches,” Schettino said.
“We’re not even friends with all of them,” added John Campbell, video editor and A&S ’15. “It’s a legitimate group.”
Campbell said that they currently have about 10 members who consistently show up to meetings, but that they sometimes bring in friends as needed to take on character roles with specific qualities, such as height.
“Each week we have different actors in different sketches, we have different locations and scripts,” Schettino said. “We have to try to accommodate all of that every week to create a new sketch.”
The ideas for these sketches come from members and non-members alike, something that Schettino said sets Goose Crossing apart from other comedy groups on campus.
“We’re very much open to anyone’s idea and making that idea happen,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s half a page, we’ll see if there’s something there to work with.”
So far, the group has put out one four-minute sketch each week since October, a goal that’s important to Schettino.
“No matter what, I want to have one sketch to our name every week,” he said.
At the beginning, most of these sketches weren’t BC-or even college-specific, Campbell said.
“Then we realized that we weren’t playing to our best audience, which is obviously BC people,” he said. “The way that the videos are going to spread is someone sees it and says, ‘Hey, I relate to this, and I know these people who’ll also relate. I’m going to tell them about it.'”
Their most popular video, “Housing of Cards,” is a spoof on Netflix’s House of Cards series and pokes fun at both BC’s housing process and the often cutthroat methods students will take to get that eight-man room.
“That was the one where I decided that, I’d been doing well with the editing, but this one is going to be as good as possible,” Campbell said.
It had over 2,000 views-far more than the usual 150 or so that the group normally gets on a single sketch-in a matter of days.
“Around the time ‘Housing of Cards’ came out, we got a lot of Twitter interest, and we didn’t even have a Twitter,” Campbell said.
By digging around in the statistics that YouTube provides for channel owners, they eventually found that the BC Alumni account had found and tweeted the video.
“That started the snowball,” Campbell said, and the group created its own Twitter account to publicize videos after that.
It’s even got an international viewership, thanks to an exchange student from Australia who roomed with Schettino and Campbell last semester.
“I feel like the hardest breakaway from the video is to get people that we don’t know to watch it,” Campbell said. “There’s a threshold you have to break there, and I think that’s the first video where we broke it.”
Schettino said that members are currently working on Marathon Monday and other BC-related sketches in hopes of replicating that success.
“That was like lightning in a bottle, and we’re still trying to capture it,” Campbell said.
Schettino characterized Goose Crossing’s first year as a series of mistakes and gradual improvements. Even choosing a name for the group was a hassle.
“There’s no explanation,” Campbell said. “It’s kind of like a joke within our friend group-Jesse will say ‘It was a goof!’ whenever he does something stupid, and for some reason it transformed into ‘goose’.” The name had some relevance to its founders, and so it stuck.
“We also found a really handsome goose to be our emblem,” Schettino said. Campbell recalled having seen a picture of a goose wearing a top hat and monocle before and found artist Donald Lim’s drawing of it online.
After emailing Lim for permission to use the drawing on t-shirts and in videos, the group adopted it as its mascot and nicknamed it Hank the Fancy Goose.
On the more technical side, everything from editing to directing has had its ups and downs.
Initially, finding someone to edit the videos after filming proved difficult, so with no previous editing experience, Campbell took on the role
“The fist time I edited, I just had two tabs open-one was on Google, and one was on the editing software. So I’d just Google ‘How to’ everything,” Campbell said.
The work that used to take Campbell up to seven hours per sketch now takes two to three, depending on the complexity of the effects needed.
Jeffrey Lee, A&S ’17, has replaced the tripod that the group initially used to film and become Goose Crossing’s go-to cameraman.
“We call him Jeffrey Steadyhands,” Campbell said.
Having a committed and more mobile way to film, thanks to Lee, has allowed Goose Crossing’s members to make more visually complex and better-directed videos.
Julian Breheny, an Australian exchange student, brought his directing experience to the sets this semester.
“I think he’s really what changed our sketches,” Campbell said. “The key with comedy is kind of a lot of camera changes, and if you watch our old videos, it’s really static. As soon as Julian comes in, our first sketch is miles ahead.”
Breheny directed the “Housing of Cards” sketch and considered everything from which angles to use, making Peter Donahue, A&S ’15-who played Frank Underwood-the biggest in the frame at all times, to how to make the lighting more ominous.
“He was saying things where I was like, ‘I would’ve never thought of that,'” Schettino said. “It’s things that people probably go to school for, and he just knows.”
Actors and actresses like Julianne Mason, A&S ’17, have also been a huge part of Goose Crossing’s development.
“Every time we cast Julianne, she makes an effort to come out,” Schettino said. “She’s a great actress.”
Campbell said that having such committed underclassmen will make it easy for Goose Crossing to sustain itself after he and Schettino graduate next year.
“I want to see this survive after we leave,” Schettino said. “It’s inclusive, it gives a chance to so many different people to get their ideas made, and it’s such a cool process to see.”
Campbell is confident that the already-committed underclassmen will continue long after the two graduate.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that by the end of senior year, there will be people who’ll want to keep it alive and that there will be a demand for our videos,” Campbell said. He’s hoping for so much demand that Goose Crossing could go national.
“All the way to the Letterman Show,” he said. “To Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.”