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Channeling the Snark: CarlTV

<test episode of CarlTV, Carleton’s student-run satirical video news outlet, featured a naked seance, belligerent input from resident Carleton student, President Steven Poskanzer, and anchor Eli Sorich displaying an alarming willingness to strip for the camera. For CarlTV, this is nothing out of the ordinary; their brand of news specializes in outlandishness and peculiar hilarity.

“When we were first talking,” sophomore and co-head of CarlTV Josh Pitkofsky said, “It was going to be this very serious platform for good change. And I still think it could be that … but right now we’re just having fun with it and we’re kind of becoming more of a comedy group if you maybe put quotations around the ‘comedy’.”

CarlTV or other variants on a campus television segment have existed on campus on and off for years now. In the past, CarlTV has been a source of legitimate news. When sophomores Pitkofsky and Jacob Broida revived the show, however, they decided to take a plunge into the world of satirized news.

“Our two big models [initially] were, did we want to be more Daily Show-esque where we took real news and satirized it, or did we want to be more like The Onion where we just made things up and tried to be funny,” Broida said.

“At first we decided that we wanted to be more like The Daily Show, but we realized pretty quickly that it’s a lot harder to write that kind of comedy, a lot harder to take real events and make fun of them and have that kind of content in your show than it is to just make stuff up. So that’s what we ended up going with, more of the Onion-esque style.”

Along with Pitkofsky and Broida, sophomores Eli Sorich and Charlie Imhoff headed the initial attempt to revive CarlTV. With a vision in mind of the direction they wanted the show to take, the four set off to make their first show in spring term of 2014. Now, three quarters of the way through fall term of 2014, CarlTV has burgeoned and the group has settled into a regular two-week production cycle.

The process begins with the submission of sketch or bit ideas from anyone on campus. Once submissions are in, the CarlTV staff takes a week to look through them, fully develop a few of the ideas, and write a script. Once the script is done, CarlTV works with Presentation, Events, and Production Support (PEPS) and the Cinema and Media Studies department (CAMS) to spend about a week on filming and a day or two editing. Though the show has settled into this cycle, Pitkofsky believes there is room for improvement.

“I think we’re starting to realize we could produce much funnier content, much quicker, snappier things if we took maybe three weeks and just made it really good,” Pitkofsky said.

“So we might see some shifts in instead having a midterm episode and a final episode, so there are two episodes per term, but they’re more quality, or maybe we’ll see shorter episodes but we’ll cut out all the bad stuff. Right now I think we’re doing a lot of soul-searching and identity work.”

Broida said that though problems with scheduling and other minor complications can make production challenging and often frustrating, seeing the finished product is always an incredible reward. In the future, however, he hopes to streamline the process and move to a longer program that involves more people.

“One of my big goals with CarlTV is to get a lot of people involved,” Pitkofsky said. “It’s a learning process for everyone involved. The people in production are doing it to learn about the studio and the cameras, we have people editing who are really interested in learning how to edit, we have actors who are kind of looking for the experience, writers who are looking for the experience … I usually think of it as a learning program for everyone who wants to be involved in something like this.”

Pitkofsky agrees that he wants CarlTV to be a resource for people who want to gain experience in any aspect of the production field, but he also has visions for CarlTV expanding into its full comedic potential.

“I think eventually we would love to have a lot more involvement from other comedy groups,” Pitkofsky said. “Like a branch of CarlTV that focuses on making more Key and Peele-esque comedy, maybe another more serious branch that would interview convo speakers … but we were talking about having all of the comedy groups come together to make Carleton Entertainment Network, which is maybe a few more years down the road.”

Regardless of the direction CarlTV ends up heading organically, Sorich, who has been an anchor for CarlTV since it restarted, believes the show occupies an important space in the Carleton entertainment community.

“I see it fitting in more with Queens of Comedy and Lenny Dee than the news aspects of Carleton or the literary aspects of Carleton,” Sorich said, “but there isn’t any sort of consistent video news source here, so I think [CarlTV is] a good addition to what Carleton already has. We have a newspaper, we have a literary magazine, we have a bunch of other stuff, but we don’t really have something like CarlTV and now we do, so I think it’s sort of filling in a gap that there was … I see it being a long-term thing.”

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