Twenty years ago, a Belmont student came up with an idea that would eventually pack the seats of the Massey Performing Arts Center and become one of the university’s most iconic traditions.
Fall Follies is an annual comedy show where select Belmont students come together to put on a “Saturday Night Live” style comedy show. It has a history of Belmont-focused humor and has a well-known identity on campus, but the time has come for Follies to change that well-known identity.
“It’s time to expand. There are students losing their minds looking for an identity, and Follies is a unique outlet for students that can give them that identity,” said Follies Director Ike Flitcraft. “Follies is looking to produce consistent content year-round in order to become more than just a weekend show.”
The Follies cast is selected in the latter half of the spring semester, and the cast has typically devoted all of its time and effort into a weekend show in late October. However, this year’s cast wants to make sure there is no down time once the fall show has passed.
“We want to be a part of the community and offer year-round comedic expression. We think it’s important as an art and a self-reflection too but also for kicks and giggles,” said Follies cast member Ross Collier.
Promos for Fall Follies have already started to roll out weekly on its YouTube channel, but once the show ends, the cast will turn to Twitter competitions, YouTube videos and weekly campus updates.
Flitcraft said Follies is working with Student Activities to potentially create new content. Follies also plans to use the TV production studio in the new academic and dining hall building upon its completion next year.
“We will use it to film campus updates regularly and use that as a pillar to broadcast our scheduled content.”
This isn’t the first time Follies has made attempts at outside content. In the past few years the cast has hosted shows at the Curb Café, Bongo After Hours and shot promo videos for athletics, but the content has never been consistent.
“I think it’s amazing they’re going all out for year-round content. It fills a void. In the spring, campus is just not as exciting. Fall Follies and the beginning of the year is awesome, but the spring lacks the same energy. Follies can fill that void,” said former Belmont student and Follies cast member James Shockley.
Shockley said Follies is a group that has opportunities to do things on campus that most student organizations don’t have.
“My senior year we were able to lead chapel and talk about how comedy and faith can coincide. How cool is that?”
Follies isn’t just redefining itself as a year-round campus comedy club, it’s also going to venture into a new realm of on-campus comedy by balancing content between Belmont specific humor and general comedy any college student would enjoy.
“Belmont-based references are to be expected, but it’s not all super healthy,” said Flitcraft.
Students pile into MPAC every October expecting to hear jokes poking fun of the traditional Belmont issues, but this cast doesn’t want to be just like every other year.
“It seems to be making a shift to make it less of topical humor and more creating an entity that has its own merit as a comedy group,” said Collier. “We are walking the line of changing and extending past purely Belmont humor but still keeping our identity to the Belmont community.”
This year’s Fall Follies is also different than years past because the entire production will be done in-house. The entire Follies group will consist of approximately 50 students who will cover all audio/video needs, writing, acting and even the house band for the show.
“It’s great that so many students are getting to do what they love and showcase their talents. Belmont has creative talents and Follies shows how diverse our student population is,” said Shockley.
Follies is planning to redefine what campus comedy should be. The cast knows they have an opportunity to reach people in a whole new way and provide more students with this creative outlet that has formed on Belmont’s campus.
“I remember sitting in MPAC my freshman year and thinking about how I have to do this. I have to get involved. This year will give us the chance for more freshmen to see campus content and get inspired and involved. There really is no other offering on any other platforms,” said Flitcraft.
Fall Follies will be held on Oct. 24 and 25 in MPAC. For content right away, you can check out the Fall Follies YouTube channel, Facebook page and Twitter account, which will all provide content leading up to the show.
This article was written by Tatum Tummins.
PHOTO: Brittany Marshall