This week, justArts spoke with Caroline Kriesen ’20, who is the executive producer of the new web series “Mock U.”

justArts: What first got you thinking about “Mock U?”

Caroline Kriesen: The very first thing was that I joined an improv group — TBA. I didn’t think that I was a funny person at all — I just auditioned on a whim ...We talked about how to make good improv and it’s not about a joke — it’s about the story, a relationship. It’s about how people interact with each other. That was the beginning of me realizing that I could create meaningful comedy … I was really involved with the theater community and I loved it, but I’d been doing theater for my entire life — I felt like college was the time to do different things and do my own stuff. One day I just wrote a bunch of different scenes [and got started]. It was going to be a play originally. I just came up with initiations, scenes, ideas, and one was a documentary-style conversation about a casting decision that happened at a liberal arts university. It was one character reacting to theater and was like, “I think this is so great but I don’t think it was really fair. I think it was about social justice, not good acting.” That idea is so in the back of our minds — how do we do real progress and real justice. That thinking began it. 

JA: Why did you choose to present “Mock U” as a web series?

CK: I felt that that was the most accessible platform for a wide audience. I want people to be involved and see what I’m doing and I want it to go beyond Brandeis. I wanted distribution and the format of a long form narrative to develop stories and characters. I wanted people to contribute. I wanted people who were comedy writers and actors to work on it and make it more accurate.

JA: What do you envision for the future of “Mock U?”

CK: I’d love for it to start with the Brandeis community and move to liberal arts colleges, then colleges and parents. I want a non-millennial audience to access it. I think it could be like looking in a mirror, but I also want people who don’t know about this community to interact with it in a [way] that is non-threatening. 

JA: How do you want people to react to “Mock U?”

CK: I would love for people to hate it and to love it, any sort of reaction.  I don’t want people to feel passive or neutral about it. In general, if we’re all thinking the same things, we don’t often think of nuance.

JA: What was the most rewarding part of directing “Mock U?” 

CK: The most rewarding thing about it was audience reaction, but I think the other thing that is rewarding is making friends and developing friendships further with people who care about the project. The most rewarding thing is seeing people bring what they have to “Mock U” and making it better. Anytime that there are these moments that people are bringing themselves into it and making work and making it better is so rewarding.

—Hannah Kressel