ChiBus [CB]: How did you get involved in Follies?
Peter Biava [PB]: As an admitted student, I remember attending First Day activities fair and seeing the Follies table. Carson Cunningham’s eponymous music video “Booth Crime” was playing on an iPad. I saw Eesan and Fred anxiously recruiting future Follies members, even trying to sell tickets to admitted students, or to anyone who would listen. It was a sorry sight. I was immediately flooded with feelings of overwhelming charitable compassion. I took a look around the room and thought to myself, ‘If I don’t help these poor Follies co-chairs, then who else will?’. And that’s how I signed up for Follies. Every hour I spend with them is counted towards my 1,000 hours of court-ordered community service.
[CB]: Any previous experience putting on an event like this?
[PB]: Every Christmas Eve, I perform the choreography from Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal” for my Grandmother’s book club. It’s an absolute thrill to perform and it really is the only thing that makes me feel alive. So you could say I have a TON of stage experience performing in front of captive audiences.
[CB]: Where are you getting the inspiration for the skits?
[PB]: After every TNDC, the Follies writers go to the Walgreens at State & Lake and we purchase $420 worth of Monster Energy Drink, beef jerky, and Frito-lay products. We then watch re-runs of Jackass and we ask ourselves, ‘How can we make these jokes LESS FUNNY?’ Then we spin a roulette wheel where the numbers are replaced by different tropes of MBA Life to determine what each sketch should be about. We also steal classic SNL jokes and repackage them hoping that no Boothies catch on to our ruse.
[CB]: What has been the hardest part of putting it together?
[PB]: I gotta give it to our marketing and production co-chairs. It’s very easy to spitball crazy ideas in a writer’s room, but the production team actually make it real. So I must thank Fred and Manvitha for killing it on the production side with the stage setup, props, and setting up rehearsals. And huge props (no pun intended) go out to Chris and Zidi for the marketing and fundraising efforts that give this show the budget we need for all the co-chairs to put down a deposit on a Tesla Model 3…. I mean, for us to afford the great production and print the programs and otherwise put on a great show.
[CB]: What has been the most enjoyable aspect of putting it together?
[PB]: Every Wednesday, the Follies Writer’s room gets together to discuss potential ideas for sketches and videos for the Follies YouTube page. A lot of times, the premise of a sketch comes from real-life inspiration, whether class, recruiting, or some other quirky aspect of MBA life. It’s actually the highlight of my week because those lunches are really fun and I’ve become good friends with everybody in that writer’s room.
[CB]: Any teasers for us?
[PB]: Our theme this year is “South Side Story”. We’ve adapted the gang rivalry between the Sharks and the Jets from the classic musical “West Side Story” to Booth life: We have comedic feuds between the 1st years and the 2nd years, all culminating in an epic rap battle and dance-off. No really. We actually do. We are also working on some EPIC content for the YouTube page. It will probably get millions of views in the future, so it’s definitely something you want to be on the ground floor of.
Peter Biava is a joint-degree MPP/MBA and winner of "Roadkill Cuisine Challenge!" on Food Network's Chopped (Season 4, Episode 63). His former boss holds the Guinness World record for Largest Granny Square, and the cookies at Kovler cafe are the only reason he goes to Harper.