Dartmouth Comedy Network fills in comedy gap on campus

by Mia Nelson | 3/5/19 2:20am

Dartmouth Comedy Network is Dartmouth’s newest comedy group, joining other comedy groups on campus including Dog Day Players, Casual Thursday and Jack-O-Lantern. Created by Samantha Locke ’22, the group represents Dartmouth’s only scripted comedy group. 

Similar to Saturday Night Live, the group performs sketches and uploads them to its YouTube channel. Recent videos include a sketch called “State of the Union Prep,” written by Locke and Matthew Evans ’22 and edited by Josh Ocampo ’22. The sketch portrays an intern encouraging Donald Trump to practice his speeches. More Dartmouth -specific sketches include “Fracket Noir,” which tells the story of a lost jacket at a fraternity, and “The Environmentalist,” which highlights an overzealous eco-warrior student. 

Dominique Mobley ’22 wrote “The Environmentalist” after a fellow Dartmouth student turned the sink water off while Mobley was grabbing a paper towel after washing her hands. 

“My friend and I were talking about it and were like, this would be funny,” Mobley said. 

Mobley met Locke in a screenwriting course during the fall term. In class, Mobley stated that she “really wanted to create roles for black characters, for women, just unrepresented groups.” Locke approached Mobley because of her statement and asked her if she would like to get involved with Dartmouth Comedy Network. 

Locke first became interested in forming the organization fall term, after she realized that the comedy groups already on campus did not focus on sketch comedy or stand-up. She said the group is looking to fill a void in the Dartmouth comedy scene and provide a more open recruitment process than auditions, which is how Dog Day Players and Casual Thursday recruit new members.

“We are an inclusive group. It’s not audition. It’s not try out, and [anyone] can be a part of it,” Locke said.  

Eduardo Hernandez ’22 was interested in comedy in high school but missed auditions for both groups. However, he was more excited about Dartmouth Comedy Network’s focus on sketch comedy and stand-up than improv.

“The thing is, I don’t think I’m good at improv because I like film more than I like theater,” he said. “I just like seeing facial expressions, and from the stage you can’t see what people look like.”

Locke was excited about comedy before college, eagerly anticipating joining the groups on campus.

“I saw the ‘Good Cop Bad Cop Ugly Cop’ sketch on YouTube by Dartmouth Sketch Comedy,” she said. Locke anticipated joining the group her freshman year, but found that it no longer existed when she arrived. With only the improv groups and the satire publication The Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern, she realized she wanted more.

“I realized I wanted to do scripted video comedy, and I want there to be stand-up comedy, and those did not exist in that moment in time” Locke said. 

Locke said she first approached her friends Evans and Katie Orenstein ’22 as well as other students in the screenwriting class. While the group unofficially formed during the fall term, the group was not officially registered until the winter.

“The paperwork and working through getting recognized is new and a challenge,” Locke said. 

However, the group has been filming since the end of fall term. For now, the group releases new sketches every Thursday at 8 p.m. on their YouTube channel, Dartmouth Comedy Network. As for the future, Locke has big plans. She is already dreaming up a sitcom set in high school that would potentially involve the Class of 2023. More immediately, Locke intends to co-sponsor stand-up open mic nights in One Wheelock next term. 

Her enthusiasm for comedy pushed her to create the group, while her motivation and leadership has created a valuable new space for comics at the college. 

“It’s a good way to spend time,” said Hernandez of the group’s meetings. 

As for the future, Locke can see herself doing comedy after college. 

“There are moments on stage or moments just with a pencil and a notebook where you learn things or you feel like you’re learning things about yourself in the world that you wouldn’t have found otherwise,” she said. “And for that reason, I can’t imagine myself doing anything else.”