New student-driven variety show aims to bring Ducks together

The Duck on stage

In these pandemic times, we all need a little diversion now and then.

Netflix is great, Oregon hoops even better. But sometimes Ducks just want to hang with Ducks.

That’s where the Ducks Variety Show comes in. The new YouTube series is created by students, for students, featuring skits, trivia, viral videos and other content designed to amuse. New episodes air at 7 p.m. Saturdays on the Erb Memorial Union YouTube channel through winter quarter.

Zach Fairchild, special events coordinator for major student events in the Division of Student Life, said his supervisors in the EMU approached him about developing a virtual student engagement program. He looked at what other universities are doing and decided a variety show was the way to go.

The idea was to create a student engagement program that wasn’t Zoom, he said.

“It became quite clear students are pretty Zoomed out,” he said. “They didn’t want another log-in-to-meet-up thing.”

The show has a definite lo-fi vibe. Fairchild serves as emcee, introducing segments and the other presenters and setting an upbeat tone for the show. The Duck also makes regular appearances.

“We’re going to talk about positive things, happy things, things that bring us joy and put smiles in our faces and make us laugh,” Fairchild says in the second episode.

Three students present other segments. Lantha Clarke hosts a segment called “Ten-Second Talent,” which showcases students’ odd, random and unexpected skills. Chloe Shaw introduces the “Tell Me Something Good” segment, featuring positive stories, for instance, her roommates’ grandparents getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

A 30-minute entertainment segment might feature dance or rap performers, illusionists, aerial artists or other entertainers from around the world.

Student John Sandiland, who also serves as videographer, runs the weekly trivia contest. Winners of “10-Second Talent” and the trivia contest receive $50 gift cards from the Duck Store.

Clarke, a senior studying psychology and public relations, said the show helps keeps Ducks connected, no matter where they are, “during these awful times.”

“It’s been fun and surprising, honestly, because I didn’t think we’d get the reaction we’re getting,” she said.

To promote “Ten-Second Talent,” Clark broke out into song on the second episode, belting out some lines from Alicia Keys’ “If I ain’t got you.”

“I don’t consider myself a good singer, but I do like singing,” she said. “When I was filming that, I was thinking, my neighbors must hate me. It was just to do something to break the ice. I was willing to embarrass myself for the greater good.”

By Tim Christie, University Communications