By: Isabella Vaccaro
When asked what the goal of Off the Wire is, a resounding response from the three executive producers, junior Jeremy Erdheim, seniors Danny LaRose and Alberto Lopez, as well as head writer, sophomore Peter Gurl, almost knocks me off my chair: “to make people laugh!”
“Hopefully!” Erdheim adds, laughing.
“Easiest question I’ve ever been asked,” somebody says in the midst of the uproar. You can tell these four are passionate, to say the least, about this show, which airs bi-weekly in front of a live audience and features a slew of original content, including sketches and SNL-style news segments, written and produced by UM students.
Although Off the Wire is housed under the umbrella of UMTV, it is inherently different than other shows on the channel. For starters, it’s modeled after a late-night show and isn’t focused on delivering hard news like NewsVision, NewsBreak, Pulse, UniMiami, The Culture, and SportsDesk.
Erdheim, who serves as an EP and this year’s on-air host, and his fellow EPs stress the highly collaborative nature of the show. Erdheim and his team meet two or three times a week to workshop scripts, work on the news anchors’ jokes, and make general preparations for the next week’s show.
“A girl came in and said, ‘When do we have packages due?’ and I was like, ‘Oh, that’s not really what we do. We do it together’,” Erdheim adds, chuckling.
Lopez offers another characteristic of the show—its participants are highly driven. Class projects, for Lopez, are frustrating when his group members aren’t as excited about filming or editing a piece as he is.
“But here [at Off the Wire],” Lopez says, “we take out equipment every weekend in case someone texts, ‘Yo, I made something, let’s shoot this.’” He adds, “These are people who want to make stuff. We are actively passionate about it.”
Gurl, the head writer this year, says one of his priorities is to run meetings and “create an environment where people are comfortable sharing ideas.” Gurl adds, “I’m a whipping post of sorts, and I’m okay with that.”
The collaboration and team spirit, La Rose shares, is one of the highlights of being a part of Off the Wire.
“I never laugh more than when I’m with Off the Wire people,” he says. “When we’re on set, everybody’s cracking jokes, and everybody’s really freaking funny. I could be having a crappy day, or I could be having a great day, but I go to an Off the Wire meeting, and I am laughing 55 of those 60 minutes.”
It seems a consensus among this group that Off the Wire, more than anything, is a place to have fun, build relationships, and create funny content, regardless of whether or not it correlates to your major or career path. I asked how they each came to be EPs. Erdheim’s response to this is appropriately comedic and perfectly timed. “I killed a guy,” he says, his face stoic for a split second before breaking into a grin.
La Rose, who automatically became an EP as the host of the show last year, says he was attracted to Off the Wire’s flexibility in the way it’s produced.
“It didn’t have auditions, so you could jump in and start writing and start acting or producing from the moment you joined, and I was like, ‘Hell yeah, I’m gonna do that,’” said La Rose.
The conversation, which bubbles over with nothing but enthusiasm from these boys, seems to be ending—but not before Lopez delivers a message for anyone who might be interested in joining.
“I feel like the most creative people are the ones that are kind of timid,” he says, matter-of-factly. “So, they’re a little intimidated. I want to tell them to just come and try. Nothing bad is gonna happen. And the only way you’re gonna get better is if you start.”
Erdheim pipes up, admitting he didn’t even know how to hold a camera when he was a freshman.
“On my first sketch, I held a light. And then, last episode, I shot and edited a sketch,” said Erdheim.
If you like to laugh, head over to Studio C in the Wolfson Building in the School of Communication to catch Off the Wire live every other Thursday night at 8 p.m. Follow @offthewire_ on Instagram for more information.
Interested in becoming a part of Off the Wire? Whether you want to write, produce, act, film, or simply have a laugh, reach out to Jeremy Erdheim at firstname.lastname@example.org. You likely won’t be disappointed.
Visit https://vimeo.com/369905278 to watch the latest episode of Off the Wire.