Provo’s JK! Studios competed in the semifinals on NBC’s “Bring the Funny” comedy competition Tuesday night.
Judges Kenan Thompson, Chrissy Teigen and Jeff Foxworthy chose two acts, Ali Siddiq and The Chris and Paul Show, to advance to the show’s finale, leaving JK! Studios, Matt Rife, Erica Rhodes and Jarred Fell to compete for one other spot in the final round to be determined based on America’s vote.
The Provo comedy troupe performed a sketch on The Showcase episode that depicted cast member Matt Meese matching with actress Emma Stone on Tinder.
“I feel good about it,” Meese said of the performance at a JK! Studios “Bring the Funny” watch party Tuesday. “You never know how it’s all going to cut together, but we feel good about our performance, so I was really happy to see that it seemed to translate really well for TV as well.”
“This was the first time I’ve seen it,” Stephen Meek of JK! Studios said at the watch party. “They all came back from L.A. feeling like, ‘I don’t know, it was iffy,’ and whatnot, but I thought they totally nailed it.”
Meese wrote the sketch the week JK! Studios arrived in Los Angeles to participate in the series, according to Meek.
“We knew we needed a third sketch in case we got that far,” Meese said. “I can’t remember why this idea, how it came to me. It’s no doubt because I’m deeply attracted to Emma Stone and this is my fantasy, but then imagining how it’d really play out, this is exactly how it would go. I would freak out and it’d be a disaster.”
“A lot of sketches that Matt writes, it’s kind of like a pile on, where Matt is the underdog and people just keep pointing out that he’s the underdog,” Meek added. “It’s been a golden equation for a long time, and I think it really sold and landed in this sketch too.”
Thompson told the group he thought the sketch built nicely and had layers.
“I thought it was humorous,” Thompson said. “My only hang-up was the ending. The ending might’ve been a little soft, but besides that, it was great.”
Foxworthy, who performed with JK! Studios in another sketch about settings earlier on the episode, and Teigen commented on the “chaotic” moments of the performance.
“Sometimes when it gets chaotic, you lose the words. You have to be careful of that,” Foxworthy said. “It was a nice, solid performance, but I think the Open Mic round and Comedy Clash were probably a little stronger.”
“I think this is why I love that there’s three of us up here because before he even said the word ‘chaos’ or ‘chaotic,’ I was thinking of it as those are my favorite parts,” Teigen added. “I like it when it gets frantic and crazy and things are flying, and I think you guys work so, so well together, but it’s not my favorite performance from you guys.”
Meese said he thought the judges’ gave good feedback that “overall was pretty positive.”
“Some comments like, ‘Oh, this wasn’t our favorite one that you guys have done of the three,’ … I don’t necessarily disagree with that,” Meese said. “I think maybe if we could’ve adjusted the order, we might have done that, but we were writing as we went, so it was kind of like, ‘Here’s one we have.’ But if we go to the finals, we have something that we’re really excited about.”
Meek said making it to the final round of “Bring the Funny” would be “so huge” for JK! Studios.
“It would be fantastic for us,” Meese said. “It would be a huge feather in our cap, obviously, but more than that, it’s just that much more exposure and to show that we have the ability to play on a bigger stage than I think a lot of our fans are used to seeing us on, so it’s nice for us to see that for ourselves too.”
If JK! Studios doesn’t end up advancing in the competition, being on “Bring the Funny” will have been another opportunity for members of the group to continue to hone their craft under pressure, according to Meese.
“I think it showed us that we can do things that are difficult and still do them in a way that we feel good about,” Meese said.
“Not to mention all the people that we met,” Meek added. “There are so many amazingly talented comedians, and we’ve talked over and over about, oh, if we make another show or another web series or do a sketch series, stuff like that, that there are so many people we’d want to draw on their expertise and their acting ability and everything.”
“It gave us a lot of exposure to new people we would not have met otherwise that we would love to work with again in the future,” Meese said.
Voting will take place through Wednesday at 5 a.m. online at http://nbc.com/funnyvote and via tweet using hashtags #FunnyVoteJKStudios, #FunnyVoteMatt, #FunnyVoteErica and #FunnyVoteJarred.
“We were very happy to be there, of course, and we were in great company too, which always feels great,” Meese said of the semifinals. “We’ve grown close to a lot of the acts that we had to say goodbye to, and so it was an honor to be there, and we would love to go back and give it one more go.”
Another group of semifinalists will compete next week for a place in the finale. “Bring the Funny” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on NBC.