By Justin Li ’21
SAC has become a popular part of the Pingry community in the eyes of students and teachers alike. Students know that SAC assemblies are a perfect time to take a break and have a laugh with friends, regardless of the academic pressures during the normal school day. Under the new leadership of Ian Dugan (VI), Jack Gambello (VI), and Jack Timko (VI), the group already has a notably successful fall assembly under their belt.
We enjoy the products of SAC in the form of their comedy and performances, but how exactly does their work come to fruition? I talked to Ian Dugan about what exactly goes into an SAC assembly and how the club functions as a whole.
The preparation for an assembly usually begins with a meeting a month prior. The core team convenes, throws ideas on a whiteboard, and narrows the pool of ideas down to those that they like the most. They then assign three or four SAC members to each idea and give them a deadline to bring the idea to life. In regards to these assignments, Dugan says, “We delegate ideas to people who we think will treat them well. We’ll also have one production person with each group to make sure it’s a quality piece of art.”
After ideas are assigned, the project groups start to write, film, edit, and complete whatever else their segment entails, making sure to report back to the leaders regularly to ensure that progress is smooth and on schedule. They usually do not meet as a group again until the week of the assembly, at which point they’ll run through the script a few times. Before any joke hits the stage, it must be approved by Dean Ross and any of the students or teachers at which the joke is aimed.
This process has evidently worked well for SAC, as they have received particularly positive reception for their latest assembly. Dugan remarked, “I had teachers email me and say that it was the funniest SAC assembly that they’ve been to, and I really appreciate that because it makes me feel like we were successful. Overall, it’s been positive feedback about the assembly. When comments about the assembly are as specific as: ‘I think this idea went on for a little too long,’ or ‘I didn’t like this one joke,’ then that means as a whole, it was a good assembly.”
A large reason behind the quality of SAC’s events lies in the diversity of their ranks; their jokes must appeal to the entire audience, rather than a select few. Dugan and the rest of leaders have made it an effort to make sure that students from all over the school have a voice in the club. This school year, they’ve achieved the most equal gender ratio in recent memory and have increased the number of sophomore and junior members by a sizable measure as well. Dugan said, “Generally, SAC has been one group of friends making jokes for their group of friends, but this year, we’ve tried to find the funniest people in different social groups who may have not been included in SAC in previous years.” The Meme of the Week has also doubled as a way to find out “who’s funny, who has potential, and who we want on SAC.”
SAC’s process of taking on new members is also unlike that of most other clubs at Pingry. There is no sign-up sheet or application where you present your most guffaw-inducing jokes; instead, it is up to the leaders to decide who deserves a spot on the team. During the summer, they meet and compile a list of candidates who they think would be great additions to the team and reach out to them when school starts. In some rare cases, students who demonstrate persistent interest may also be considered and admitted into the group. This method of selecting new members is one reason why SAC has been successful.
The next thing we can look forward to from SAC is their annual winter assembly, which the team has not yet begun preparing. The winter assembly, held in the senior commons, distinguishes itself from its fall counterpart in that is entirely live, a factor that makes Ian describes as a “challenge” and “a whole different territory” for the group. However, he also sees it as “another opportunity to diversify by getting Pingry’s actors and actresses on board.” It is evident that even with the changes the club has made this year, they have remained true to the spirit of SAC that the Pingry community has loved. All in all, there is a lot more behind their jokes than it may seem.