Besides its world-class financial reporting, the Wall Street Journal does some fantastic pieces on the most quirky of subjects.
Today's Exhibit A: the WSJ's feature this week on a popular sketch comedy troupe out of Mormon-affiliated Brigham Young University.
I mean, this story is just lovely from top to bottom — with plenty of relevant details tied to the troupe's religion.
The lede — wow! — sets the scene in a remarkable way:
Conan O’Brien and his family were out to dinner in Santa Monica last year when his daughter began to screech, “Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!”
“I thought a Cessna had just plowed into the sidewalk and burst into flames,” the late-night TV host recalls. “Then my son started to freak out and he was like, ‘They’re crossing the street! They’re crossing the street!’”
The source of the pandemonium was the arrival of what Mr. O’Brien’s children deemed some bigger celebrities: a few mild-mannered Mormons. The late-night TV host, who soon took a picture with them, recognized them as the stars of Studio C, a sketch comedy show out of Brigham Young University.
Studio C has achieved sizable popularity on the internet, despite—or perhaps because of—its super-scrubbed brand of clean humor, such as a skit about a soccer goalie named Scott Sterling who accidentally, and agonizingly, blocks shots with his face.
The writer's mastery can be seen in the juxtaposing of the unlikely fan who exclaims "Oh my God!" in the lede with this later note:
Writers at Studio C, which launched in 2012 and began its new season this month, must avoid innuendo, cursing, politics—even the word “gosh,” because it sounds too much like “God.” Flatulence jokes don’t stand a prayer of getting past the BYU television censors. But bits like the appearance of curmudgeonly Harry Potter character Severus Snape on a “Bachelorette”-like reality show—that works.
A small detour: According to Dictionary.com, "gosh" first was uttered as a "euphemistic alteration of God." So I suspect that Mormons avoid it not so much because it sounds like God but because it's seen as using God's name flippantly. For a similar reason, my mother wouldn't let me say "darn" as a kid (a milder form of "damn").
Back to the story: The ending is as satisfying as the beginning:
The comedians, many of whom are former missionaries, said they don’t mind getting the Hollywood treatment and like appealing to a wide audience. Last year, an apostle, one of the most senior leaders in Mormonism, came to a taping.
Cast member Jason Gray said the experience was intimidating, like doing sketch comedy in front of the pope. Still, he performed an impression of the church official. “It was surreal,” Mr. Gray said. “It’s comedy so clean that literally an apostle can go and have a good time.”
Because of copyright law, I can't copy and paste the whole thing. So go ahead and read it all. If you run into the paywall, go ahead and buy a subscription.