Matt Meese: Living a life of laughter

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Matt Meese could be a Greek god, the president, Ronald McDonald, Harry Potter, Thomas Jefferson or an evil scientist any given day at work.

“I was always interested in acting, but I didn’t really do a whole lot until my senior year of high school,” Meese said.

His love of acting, humor and respect helped the Brigham Young University alumnus co-create the television sketch comedy called “Studio C.”

Photo of Matt Meese, co-creator of the television sketch comedy Studio C (Photo courtesy of Matt Meese).
Matt Meese, co-creator of the television sketch comedy Studio C. Before Studio C, he worked for the Monte L. Bean Museum for five years. (Courtesy Matt Meese)

Meese was born in New Jersey, grew up in Phoenix and loves peanut butter. “I’m kind of allergic to it now though, so I miss it something fierce,” he said.

He remembers his childhood fondly, recollecting family vacations to Disneyland, stating he could live there and wish for nothing else.

After serving a mission in Chicago, Meese attended school at BYU and studied psychology, “which apparently is a good degree if you want to act and not do psychology,” he said.

While in school, Meese worked at the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum. He didn’t move far when he started at BYUtv and regularly helps the museum with new projects now.

Katy Knight, the education administrator at the museum, and Meese’s old boss, praised him for his ingenuity and respect toward the patrons. He worked at the museum for five years.

When asked about memories of Meese, Knight pulled up a clever poem he created for a Christmas party. “’Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the Bean, not a creature was stirring, ’cause they were all dead,” it read.

“Matt was witty and smart but never joked at inappropriate times,” Knight said.

At the Bean Museum, Meese can be heard within the walls of the new “Whooo Lives Here?” play area designed for toddlers. In the tree sits a talking owl with Meese’s pre-recorded voice teaching children about animal homes. Matt also assisted in creating videos for the QR codes found across the museum.

Patty Jones, administrative assistant to the museum director, echoed Knight’s praise. “We lost him to bigger and better things, but we still have a great connection. He was always very professional and just amazing with coworkers.”

His current job started as “Studio C” aired its first episode in fall 2012. BYUtv releases most of the sketches on YouTube, and the top video claims more than 500,000 views.

Although the show focuses on humor, starting the process wasn’t as easy. The show traces its roots back to Divine Comedy, the BYU sketch comedy group.

According to the Divine Comedy site, the program started in 1994, when two students in a communications class decided they had a love for sketch comedy.

Currently, Divine Comedy puts on live performances at BYU that involve music and glow sticks. The lines outside the doors can wrap around the halls of the building before each performance.

Unlike Studio C, the cast changes as years go on and students graduate.

“Each year a few members would leave the group and they would hold auditions to replace them. Being in Divine Comedy is a bit like being the Dread Pirate Roberts,” explained the site.

As a member of Divine Comedy, Meese approached BYUtv when he heard they were looking for new content. He met Jared Shores, a content director who liked the proposed idea of “Studio C.”

“It was probably a year from our first meeting that we actually filmed a test run. The test was interesting, and we realized we had much to learn,” Meese said.

Although Divine Comedy is where “Studio C” places its roots, there is a larger difference between the two than most viewers realize.

“The easy answer is that ‘Studio C’ doesn’t do Mormon-specific or BYU-specific humor. It’s general comedy for a general audience. We also don’t throw out glow sticks, which I of course miss,” Meese explained.

Bryson Frehner, a family life major who has been with Divine Comedy for a year, explained how “Studio C” is televised and has a bigger budget.

“They both have the same goal to provide clean and inspiring comedy to all people, showing to everyone that life is funny and to laugh when times get tough,” Frehner said.

Meese attributes a lot of the success of “Studio C” to the fans. However, when asked if people ask for his autograph, Meese joked, “Just my mom.”

Each of the seasons listed on YouTube has anywhere from 63 to 100 videos, and Meese’s favorite sketch is typically the most recent one. “It’s hard to say definitively though, because I like different sketches for different reasons, and sometimes I really, really like certain moments from sketches.”

For now, Meese will continue with “Studio C.”

“I love the cast and crew and sketch comedy in general, so the focus right now is to keep improving and keep putting fresh material out there for people to enjoy.”

His IMDb account reveals that Meese has a role in “Saints and Soldiers: Battle of the Tanks,” set to be released this year.

Meese’s advice to budding actors is, “Have fun. Don’t be afraid to fail. A lot of times you gotta take risks to improve, so embrace that and have fun with it. Oh, and don’t spend a lot of time looking back. Keep moving forward.”