Sitting in a room with College Park’s Campus Solutions writers is probably not so dissimilar from being in the company of Saturday Night Live comedians.
In the middle of answering a question, the group would go off on tangents and sidebars, giving humorous anecdotes and playing off of each other.
However, they always found their way back to the matter at hand.
“[Campus Solutions is] a hard train to steer sometimes,” sophomore journalism major Kofie Yeboah said. “But when it goes the right way you really get some progress done.”
The first episode took roughly five months to complete, but the group is looking to produce content at a more frequent rate, said sophomore communications major Adam Goldberg.
“It was slow getting started because we were figuring out who we are, what we want to do and how we want to present this,” Goldberg said.
Campus Solutions’ YouTube page, which is less than a month old, has about 45 subscribers and more than 10,000 views.
“What’s cool about Campus Solutions compared to other comedy groups on campus is that it’s technology-based,” sophomore journalism major Deena Rosenblatt said. “[Social media] is getting bigger, so I think it’s really cool to incorporate technology into comedy.”
Campus Solutions is comprised of about 20 members, which includes writers, cinematographers, video editors and a network of actors, according to Goldberg.
The group gathers to brainstorm ideas, focusing on what they feel are College Park’s main problems and how they can make fun of them.
“We wanted to create something on the Maryland campus that was unlike a regular sketch group,” Goldberg said. “We wanted to create something that was across multiple platforms that could really take the students’ perspective and humorize it.”
Campus Solutions created its first episode, about sex in College Park, largely to poke fun at The Diamondback’s annual sex week tab, Goldberg said.
“We read the whole thing cover-to-cover including the ads, which were pretty ridiculous,” Goldberg said. “We just tore it apart.”
The group organized “real-life” Tinder dates on the mall to comment on dating apps and wrote questions to ask students outside Ratsie’s between 1 and 3 a.m. on Halloween.
“Everyone loves to be on camera when they think they’re being in ‘I’m Shmacked,’” freshman journalism major Cameron Neimand said. “I slowly lost control of the interviews, and they eventually turned into a rap battle.”
So far, the group said they have received mostly positive feedback.
Before Campus Solutions’ inception, the members sent the video to friends all over the country whom they thought would enjoy and share via social media.
Neimand, however, said it’s often their moms who give the more negative reviews.
“They don’t understand that it’s not serious,” Neimand said. “They’ll say that we could’ve gotten more intimate and to-the-point in the Tinder date questions.”
As for future plans, Campus Solutions is working on a documentary about Ratsie’s and wants to write episodes about both crime and food in College Park.
“We’re thinking long-term in the sense that we’re all sophomores and freshmen for the most part,” sophomore special education major Benji Mitrani said. “We do plan on continuing this [during] our college careers, and hopefully have someone take over and have this be a College Park staple of comedy for the future.”
“I don’t think we’re going to have to graduate college,” Neimand countered jokingly. “I think we’re all going to drop out due to the wild success [of Campus Solutions]. We’ve got 9,000 views, and monetary-wise in YouTube, that is at least eight cents.”
Sophomore business major Kevin Cotter said he’s interested in the idea of Campus Solutions but pointed out the show is relatively unknown on campus.
“I think, since I’ve never heard of it, advertising is probably an issue,” Cotter said. “If it doesn’t become more popular, that could be a problem for them.”
Sam Pitkin, a sophomore journalism major, also expressed an interest in the show.
“I’m a big fan of The Colbert Report,” Pitkin said. “I think that if University of Maryland students are trying to mimic that in any sort of way, that would be really fun to listen to – especially if they do it from a college perspective.”
In the beginning, Goldberg said, it was about proving to an audience he could put out something funny. However, he said he realized reaching out to other people and expanding his network meant creating better content and reaching a wider audience.
“We don’t hold auditions – we don’t receive funding from the university; anyone can join,” Goldberg said. “The beauty of Campus Solutions is that we’re just a bunch of people that like to create funny content.”
The group plans to recruit new members every semester, Goldberg said.
“We’re not going to deny anyone that wants to help,” Goldberg said. “We’re just trying to live this dream, too.”
Maya Pottiger is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.