UCR’s Department of Theatre, Film and Digital Production has started a late night show by and for UCR students. Titled “UCR Late Night” and debuting their pilot episode last quarter, I interviewed several students involved in the project, including Bryant Glover, the show’s host, as well as co-creator Rafid Sikder, and writers Sanjana DeSilva and Nicolas Callas.

Bryant Glover, executive producer and host.

NS: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your role in the show.

BG: I’m a fourth-year business administration student. I’ve been interested in theater and acting. I’ve been in a couple of productions here, but my role within “UCR Late Night” is kind of an executive producer … and partial creator of this show with my good friend Rafid. He came up with the idea entirely, and I kind of facilitated a role where I pretty much reached out to the theater department and to a specific professor who was a huge supporter for the show. And I kind of just brought all the pieces together in terms of the production as well as the creative content, and now I think “UCR Late Night” is just something good that can really connect all students on campus.

NS: What led to your decision to host the show?

BG: (laughing) Honestly, we had a couple meetings about it, and at first we started saying “The host of the show should be like this, should be like that,” and because I wanted the host to be such a specific person to do x, y and z, I just thought “you know what, I might as well just do it.” But, I presented to the writers’ team because I didn’t want to make it all self-righteous, all about me or whatever, but they actually kinda supported the decision, and from what they told me they thought I’d be great for it. I dunno, it’s kinda hard to promote myself in that position without being too prideful or arrogant.

NS: You said you had several things in mind when creating your role as a host. Could you go into that?

BG: Where do I start? So, the first thing that I thought when we were creating this project was that “UCR Late Night” can actually be a platform that really just connects all students. I’ve seen there’s a lack of connection among students within the university, because we call ourselves diverse, and when you really think about that, what does diversity mean? Is it just a statistics sheet, where you have a pie chart of different races and ethnicities and backgrounds, etc. etc.? That’s great. What UCR does well is that it provides opportunities to its students.

But from what I’ve seen, students will join organizations, but that’ll be the only connection throughout the university. That’ll be it. So everybody’s involved in their own separate ways, but there’s nothing that really unites us together. So I thought “UCR Late Night” would be a good way to expose and showcase different students of different backgrounds, student organizations, faculty and to showcase them in a platform that engages students to something they can root for.

There’s so much potential for the show, and the overall message is to just connect UCR students with each other.

NS: What exactly is the theater department’s role in this?

BG: I just know that the department is extremely busy. When we used the ARTS studio last quarter, that was only because last quarter’s production was in the University Theatre. So now, the ARTS studio’s space is taken, and the University Theatre’s space as well. And it’s more than just taking space. We actually need full-time production staff to be with us. I have a meeting coming up soon on the show’s status, but if nothing happens, I’m thinking we could just release YouTube videos to maintain the current audience that we have.

NS: What was it like hosting in front of a live audience? Were you nervous?

BG: Yeah. I was really worried that I wouldn’t entertain enough, because when you think of these hosts, those people are already natural comedians, and they’ve already had established careers. So I think, “I’m just a student.” I don’t really consider myself funny, but eventually throughout the process, there was so much encouragement from people, and I started to relax more.

NS: Any last words for the students?

BG: Watch the show. I really hope that everyone likes it. “UCR Late Night” is used to connect all students, and to give them something to be really excited about. There’s a lot of potential and great things to come in the future.

Rafid Sikder, co-creator. Sanjana DeSilva and Nicolas Callas, writers.

NS: Tell me a little bit about yourselves and your roles in the show.

RS: I’m a fourth-year applied math major. I’m the co-creator.

SD: I’m a third-year theater major, and I’m a writer on the show.

NC: I’m a second-year film production major, and I’m also a writer.

NS: (To SD and NC): Were you two originally approached by Bryant and Rafid, or did you read about the show somewhere and thought, “Hey, I wanna try this out?”

NC: I was introduced to it at a party with friends. It was approaching midnight, and a friend said “Hey, I got this email about ‘UCR Late Night’,” and I was like “What’s that?” And he explained to me that it was an opportunity to become a writer, and I was like “Oh, that sounds great! When’s the application due?” And he said, “Uh, 20 minutes.” And I got my laptop out and started filling it out. I sent it in late, so not exactly the best first impression, but about a week or so later I got the OK for an interview, and somehow ended up on the show.

SD: I respond to every email I get, and I just saw the application and was like “Why not?” And then I did it. And that was that.

NS (to R): What was it like creating the show?

RS: Basically, it was a year, year and a half ago, where I usually hang out with a friend and play guitar on Friday nights on campus, and I met up with Bryant. We were hanging out, and I just had this idea where I told him, “Hey what if we had a late night show at UCR?” And I took a break from playing guitar and just looked at him, and was like “Hey, what if we did this on campus?” I thought “It’d be really cool and engaging with students, and it’d be pretty fun.” So he was the one who heard it from me, and came to me and told me, “Hey, we need to start this.” That was the original moment where we came up with “UCR Late Night.”

NS: Are you involved in any of the production?

RS: Yeah. So just like how Bryant is the host and executive producer, I’m also the co-host, so I have similar roles behind the scenes and on-set, just as him. And I’m also the other executive producer that works on getting “UCR Late Night” up and running.

NS (to NC and SD): Do you two have any more writers?

NC: Originally we had six writers, but one graduated. We met up last spring quarter with one or two meetings. And then in the fall this year, we had another meeting, and we lost one writer. And as it continued, people started getting involved in production and they slowly stopped making it. So toward the end of the show, we had like three active writers.

NS: And now it’s just you two?

SD: We’re not sure.

NC: I guess at this moment, yes.

SD: We could always use more.

NS (to all): When did production start falling into place for the first episode?

RS: We started hitting it off the second or third week of fall quarter. We really wanted to hit the ground running because we’d been planning for so long.

NS (to SD and NC): For the script, did you guys take any influence from famous late night shows?

NC: For me, I’d have to say no just because I don’t watch a lot of late night shows, which is kinda sad, to be on a late night show and not watch them. Every now and then, I’ll see a Conan clip on YouTube. But for the most part, I didn’t really keep up with the style. I did have to watch those kind of things a little more to know the kind of style I was getting into and what was expected of me. But as for ideas, I kinda just let it happen.

SD: I don’t think we really thought of it as a late night TV show in style. We never really considered that an issue when we were writing it. We kinda just went off each other, with a lot of back-and-forth. We all watched late night before and we all understood what it meant, so I don’t think there was any need to grab onto anybody else.

NS (to all three): Do you guys have anything in mind for the show’s future?

SD: We’ve talked about a lot of different things. There are so many things on the table we want to add later on.

NC: Hypothetically, we have some stuff in reserve in case if the show becomes relevant, but for the most part we try to keep everything fresh.
RS: I think that, seeing as how we had just one show, we really want to have a strong base in terms of representing the show and how it engages the students. So before we move onto a lot of interesting ideas and unique things that we want to showcase, we really want to situate us as a unique show on campus so that people can just take a break from studying, and put a smile on their faces and make them happy.