“STL UP Late” allows the Midwest to have a voice that has not been heard before, while also shining light on the city’s artistic community.
Rafe Williams, an SIUE alum, writer and performer for “STL Up Late,” describes the show as gritty, raw and homegrown.
“We want to create a community where St. Louis artists can thrive, and right now there isn’t anything else on TV that is local and serves that purpose,” Williams said. For four seasons, the late night comedy talk show based out of St. Louis has hosted local heroes and grass-root musical guests such as “John Hardy and the Public,” along with other various local bands.
“We want locals to be able to have their own platform, creating a vehicle for them to succeed,” Williams said.
“We shot a pilot of the show, and KMOV accepted it, but we wanted to do our show our way. We had two options — we could either sell completely to the network or raise the money for the show ourselves to keep complete creative control. The money is all for production costs, such as a new set built for TV, camera equipment, audio recording equipment and studio equipment,” Williams said.
“We want to keep doing the show the same way that we do now, the only difference being that it is on TV. We want to make changes minimal, doing the show with topics we want to discuss and talents that we want to shine. We want to be a voice for St. Louis issues,” Williams said. “The cast all works really hard, and sacrifices a lot of time, energy and money for the show to be its best. When you love what you do the universe will take care of you.”
Additionally, “STL Up Late” invites citizens, entrepreneurs and artists from the region to contact them for guest spots on the show. “If anyone has an interesting project or business, we are always looking for new guests. If the show gets on TV, it will broaden the talent while also allowing them to reach out to more people,” Williams said. “Whatever you are passionate about, we want it to be made aware of to the public of St. Louis.”
Williams believes it is not necessary to move to big cities such as Los Angeles, New York or Chicago in order to make your name known as an artist. He encourages students to write their own ticket and create opportunities just as he did. After graduating from SIUE, Williams started his career as a stand up comedian at The Improv Shop in St. Louis.
“Eric Christensen [the host of ‘STL Up Late’] was my teacher at The Improv Shop and taught me the art form there. [Christensen] recruited everyone from The Improv Shop for the show, and I started out as a joke writer. I was recruited for stand up, and became an official cast member in season three,” Williams said.
“STL Up Late” currently calls the Marcelle Theater home, where the cast performs live shows in front of a studio audience, usually ranging between 80-100 people, Saturday nights at 9 p.m.
“In season, we do the show every Saturday night for 16 weeks, and then take a small break before we start up again. We have been raising money every other weekend now for the show,” Williams said.
According to Williams, having a support system from people at SIUE is more important than anything.
“The people I met are invaluable resources to me that will be available forever. The education I got here is very important. I learned how to network, be out in the community and be active, which are all very important in this world,” Williams said.
Williams also mentioned that there could be a lot of different opportunities involving the show’s production if it makes it to the big screen, including internships for students.
“I know how hard it is to get an internship. When I went here [SIUE] — I know how slim the opportunity was to get hands on experience working on a local show that involved my community. If we have interns, you would be working hard, not just getting coffee,” Williams said. Internships for “STL Up Late,” could be available to anyone majoring in mass communications, theatre and even business students, according to Williams.
“We could potentially start taking interns in 2016. Once the show starts, it will become its own 52-week monster, and we will need people as soon as November. Our interns wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle; they would be a valuable member to our team,” Williams said.
In the meantime, Williams encourages students to find their passion.
“Find what you love, and get really good at it. Be the hero of your own movie. You can make your own opportunities by finding like-minded people that will all work hard toward a common goal,” Williams said. “Look at others who have gone before you, and make them a part of your network. Success leaves behind clues, so look at the people you consider successful and follow in their footsteps.”
To watch past performances and clips or purchase tickets, visit STLUpLate.com.
UPDATE ON “STL UPLATE”:
“STL UpLate” exceeded their goals in their Kickstarter campaign! “We will be on KMOV this November and immediate intern opportunities may exist for SIUE Mass Comm students!” said Rafe Williams. More information about those opportunities will be posted!
“Rafe Williams is a comic, public speaker, and improviser who has been writing and performing since 2009 in the St. Louis area. Rafe is a writer/performer on STL Up Late, host of his own stand-up comedy showcase called First & Third, and he is also a featured performer and coach at the Improv Shop. He grew up in a small town in Southern Illinois and still has an essay he wrote in third grade entitled “Comedian”– the letter was a response to the age old question of “what do you want to be when you grow-up?” He joined the Improv Shop in St. Louis in 2012 and embraces long-form improv as both an art-form and a philosophy. He is currently two of the following: a member of Toastmasters, Freelance Adventurer, Inventor of Cool Ranch Doritos, SIUE Graduate, Competitive Ribbon Dancer, and Metro-East Plus Size Male Model of the Year 2003, 2008 and 2013.”
To Find out even more about STL UpLate:
To Pursue your own comedy goals: