Behind the Scenes: Smile and Nod

fullsizerender-2 Our group decided to cover Smile and Nod, the improv comedy group at Cal Poly, because we thought it would make a fun feature story. We wanted to do something different than what other people had done in the past. We wanted to go beyond just highlighting this club, and share things that people don’t typically know about this group— like how their audition and callback process works and how they give back to the campus community.

Trevor Melody and I were assigned the PR role for this project, so as soon as we knew the topic we started contacting Smile and Nod members, reaching out to the San Luis Obispo community, and brainstorming the possible angles along with what would be important to include in the story.

Finding Our Sources

No one knew anyone personally who was in Smile and Nod, so we started with the group’s website. When and where were their shows? What possible footage would we be able to get in two weeks? Who do we talk to? We found out that they performed the first seven Saturday nights of the quarter, so we were excited that we would be able to see what they do firsthand.

Trevor and I started to send emails to some of the members listed on the website and hoped for a quick response. We also had to reach out to community members, people in administration, and faculty along with utilizing multiple social media platforms to get feedback for our story. Trevor says, “The most challenging part for me was approaching community members and getting good responses from them since most of them typically hadn’t heard too much about Smile and Nod.”

The Process

I ended up contacting one of the girls in the group, Brianna Rodebaugh. She was extremely helpful and agreed to meet with me and bring a new member (Paul) along with her. Talking with her helped generate ideas to cover for the story.

“Many people don’t know how much practice improv comedy actually takes, there is a different one for each type of performance,” Brianna says.

Kaylee interviews Brianna and Paul from Smile and Nod.

Later, Briana and Paul became two of our main sources for the story. They met with Kaylee Zaccone, the person assigned to editorial, and me for an interview. Trevor set up the interview with Kaylee, himself, and one of the team’s managers, Sasha, and we had our three sources for the editorial portion of the project.

“We are doing an angle that focuses on the history, present, and future of the group,” Kaylee says. “It will hopefully be different from other articles done on them because we are going to talk more about what is going on outside of the comedy aspect, like how they give back by working with SAFER.”

Demi getting footage for the multimedia component.

Demi Castanon and I went to the show Saturday night where Demi got video, audio, and photos for the multimedia component of the project.

“At first I was going to make a video, but now I am going to do the photo slide show,” says Demi. “I feel like people might be less likely to actually go to the show if they could just watch what Smile and Nod do on video.”

Lastly, Amanda Fridley is working on the broadcast piece for our story so she went to Smile and Nod’s rehearsals to do her interviews and take video.

“I wanted to do more of a fun interview. I didn’t want to do the clean cut broadcast style, but I wanted to get more of me involved in the interviews talking to people,” says Amanda. “It was a challenge for me to organize my angles and shots during the interview because they are an improv group, and everyone is so eccentric and was screaming in the background.”

What Surprised Us

Smile and Nod performing Saturday night.

Throughout the process of putting together this story, each of us found ourselves learning something new.

“It impressed me how quick-witted they are and how easy it is to go from sitting in their chair to getting up and being crazy.”- Amanda

“I was surprised to find out how many people actually audition every quarter. I didn’t know many people were interested in Smile and Nod.”-Kaylee

“It was more funny than I thought it was going to be. I didn’t know that the audience also had a say in what they were performing. People in the audience were throwing out topics and Smile and Nod would just run with it.”-Demi

Rachel Furtado