What started out back in 2003 with two students attending SUU who had a passion for improv, has turned into a unique community staple and successful Youtube series.
Wendy Penrod and her husband TJ Penrod have lived in Cedar City for the past 15 years. While attending SUU, they found themselves in the improv club. Both decided they wanted to share their love of improv and perform for others. After speaking with the management at The Grind Coffeehouse, an agreement was made in which Wendy and TJ could perform there on Friday nights. “(And) thus began the journey of Off the Cuff,” Wendy said.
Off The Cuff Comedy Improv (OTC) is the only improv group found in Cedar City. Their directors, producers and cast members were trained by some of the biggest names in improv, from Charna Halpern & James Grace of iO West and iO Chicago to Nick Armstrong of the Groundlings, and Dave Razowsky. The improv team is comprised of eight to 10 cast members per show.
OTC recently produced a YouTube series called, “Funny Side Up,” even though producing a web series was never in their plans.
The series originally started as an entry for Project Greenlight, a film contest for trailers.
“We wanted to do something that was fun and simple,” Wendy said. “We didn’t win the contest, but that is how Funny Side Up started.”
There are currently two seasons of Funny Side Up on YouTube. The first season debuted May 21, 2016, and consists of six episodes around 15 minutes in length each. The second season aired November 3, 2017, and has a total of three episodes, with the episode length ranging from 17 to 30 minutes.
The humor and filming style used in Funny Side Up could be comparable to that found in “Parks and Recreation” and “The Office.”
Producing Funny Side Up has been a fun experience for the cast members to work on.
“My favorite part of filming, as stupid as it sounds, was the improv,” TJ said. “It’s fun when we got the camera on everyone and see the riffing back and forth. We have a very loose outline of what the script was that we are able to improve from.”
It has yet to be determined if OTC will make another season of Funny Side Up.
“We hope to continue making more seasons,” Wendy said. “It’s just hard because a lot of the people that helped us have moved out to LA or to other places, but it is something we would love to continue doing. We have some really great ideas for season three. People have already reached out saying they could help us with the third season, so it is on the horizon for us to figure out.”
OTC celebrates their 14th anniversary in January. OTC Comedy Improv show is held every Friday night from 10 p.m. to midnight. Tickets are $5.
Visit YouTube to view the latest episodes.