Carolina Productions’ fall lineup will stay heavy on comedy, as in recent semesters, but its performers will carry smaller price tags.
The semester’s best-paid acts, Nev Schulman of MTV’s “Catfish” series and sports commentator Stephen A. Smith, will pull down $15,000 from CP’s student fee-funded budget. College Humor Live will be paid $14,000, including $5,000 from Carolina After Dark. CP will pay $74,600 for its performers this semester out of a budget that is nearly $100,000.
That’s down from the checks the group wrote for headlining acts in recent semesters, including $35,000 for comedian Seth Meyers in the spring and and $20,000 for Comedy Central Live last fall.
Comedians from MTV’s “Girl Code” and “Guy Code,” who will earn $10,400, and Schulman are expected to be major attendance draws on Sept. 26 and Oct. 1, respectively, said CP president Erik Telford.
Telford said he’s already seen an impressive volume of positive social media reactions from students to the announcement of the two acts.
“Catfish” is a docudrama series about the truth and lies of online dating. The show’s popularity took off early this year after former Notre Dame linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist Manti Te’o claimed to have been the victim of an online girlfriend hoax. Later, former South Carolina baseball player Michael Roth said he too nearly fell prey to what is now known as “catfishing.”
“That’s something that’s becoming bigger and bigger,” Telford said. “Not only just protecting yourself online, but also branding when it comes to social media. … (Schulman’s) act focuses largely on that, too, which is something that everyone in our generation is involved with.”
Students indicated in feedback last year that they’d like to see more performances by their peers, Telford said, so CP is catering to that demand this semester.
In addition to the longstanding Acoustic Café, Comedy Open Mic Night and Poetry Night events on Tuesday nights, student talent will be on showcase at the USC’s Got Talent Finale (Oct. 9), the Murder Mystery Dinner (Oct. 31) and the Jingle Jam A Cappella Fest (Dec. 4).
Comedy acts — a favorite in student surveys — are once again prominently featured in the semester’s lineup, since those events have typically drawn large student crowds, Telford said.
“(Comedy) seems to be what students react to best, so we’re just playing to our strengths,” Telford said.
In addition to the “Girl Code” and “Guy Code” casts, musical comedians Carlie and Doni (Aug. 28), College Humor Live (Nov. 7) and comedian Melissa Villasenor (Nov. 20) are also scheduled to appear on campus.
A unique event in this semester’s lineup is an appearance by ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith, (Nov. 15) who is known for his outspoken and often polarizing opinions.
“A lot of people react strongly (to Smith),” Telford said. “They either think he’s the most entertaining and hilarious guy ever, or they just passionately dislike him.”
CP last hosted a sports figure in February 2012 when ESPN founder Bill Rasmussen spoke.
In the Russell House Theater, “Throwback Thursdays” will return for a second semester of old-school movie showings after strong response last spring, Telford said. Included in the lineup are “The Breakfast Club” (Sept. 5), “Toy Story” (Oct. 3), “Space Jam” (Oct. 24) and “The Princess Bride” (Nov. 21).
CP will also host a viewing of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” season premiere in the theater Oct. 13, a new event for the group.
The annual fall concert has not been announced, and Telford would not discuss its details, including whether an act had been selected and what genre it might be.
But he did say that the group hopes to give students what they ask for, and student feedback has consistently indicated a desire for country artists. After having two country concerts on campus since Fall 2011, though, Telford said some students are interested in something different.
“We want to give the student body what they want, and what they want is diversity,” Telford said.