Local band Our Names Forever performed during a recent taping of the show. From the left are Rob Joyce, Quentin Harrington, Bobby DiGioia, Josh Tedford and Justin LaBelle.
Something funny happened to the original cast of “The Wacky Factory,” a half-hour of music, skits and features geared to children that airs on WCCA TV 13 and other community cable channels throughout the region.
The worm turned, so to speak. Well, they got a little older, anyway.
So welcome to “Worm City,” a new show on WCCA TV 13 that has many of the old “Wacky Factory” crew in a format with sketches that are edgier, highly satirical, and more PG-13.
“It's going to be a lot different than ‘Wacky Factory.' It's going to be amazing,” said Chris LaJeunesse, 17, of Worcester, a cast member who also has collaborated on writing some of the skits.
In the first 30-minute “Worm City,” a clown seems to be saying things that should be censored out, but he isn't really. In another sketch a sales clerk sets new standards for obduracy. A ring tone has a funny kind of tone …
Adapting a “Saturday Night Live” type format, “Worm City” also has a different local youth band performing in each program. When “Worm City” cast members were being interviewed at WCCA TV 13's studios at 415 Main St., Worcester, earlier this week, the local band Our Names Forever, all of whose members are in high school, was about to be taped for a couple of numbers.
The initial 30-minute show was “sort of a test pilot,” said Eric Glass, creator, writer, producer and director of “The Wacky Factory” and “Worm City.”
“Worm City” debuted on WCCA TV 13 at Thanksgiving. Future shows are coming up.
Meanwhile, “The Wacky Factory” (also 30 minutes) is back with a brand new young cast and can be seen on WCCA TV 13 at 2 p.m. Friday, 8:30 p.m. Saturday, and 4:30 p.m. Sunday for the next few weeks.
“The Wacky Factory” goes back to 2008. Last year, many of the cast (along with some adults) appeared in a full-length feature movie directed by Glass titled “American Retro — A High School Story,” a drama about two popular high school students framed for a theft they did not commit. Filming locations included South High Community School and The Miss Worcester Diner. The film won second prize in the Youth Channel 2011 Video Awards.
The film also proved to be a turning point.
“During making the movie, some kids came up and said ‘I don't want to do “The Wacky Factory” — let's do something different,' ” Glass recalled. They included his son, 13 year-old Jake Glass (the Glass family lives in Brookfield).
If you were to watch “The Wacky Factory” episodes in chronological order you would see a progression, LaJeunesse said. Making “The Wacky Factory” was “a blast,” but “the maturity went up and up.”
Stephen Houchins, 15, of New Salem, a writer and performer, said the show went from “a pretty child-like level of humor” to an episode that included “a spoof of allergy commercials. Most elementary kids wouldn't get it.”
Eric Glass said “Worm City” satirizes a lot of what is seen on regular television, especially reality shows where almost every other word has to be bleeped out. Jake Glass came up with the idea of the clown, whose utterances look like they are being censored. “It's audio illusion,” Eric Glass said. “He doesn't say any profanity at all. It's your mind filling in the blanks.”
The target audience for “Worm Town” is 14 to 18, and possibly beyond that. When the first episode was repeated on New Year's Eve, Eric Glass said he received “a bunch of texts, it was all positive.” People can currently catch the first show on archive at www.wccatv.com.
Besides entertainment and enjoyment, the purpose of getting people involved with “The Wacky Factory” and “Worm City” is educational, Eric Glass said. The productions are “giving kids an opportunity to act and learn about the process of creating television.” They are partly funded by a grant from the Worcester Arts Council.
It's something the young TV performers will carry with them whichever way the worm turns. Houchins thinks he may ultimately have a career in the medical field. LaJeunesse plans on entering the youth ministry. He's been accepted at Gordon College in Wenham for the fall.
“But if I'm ever back here and he (Glass) gives me a call, I'll jump back in and shoot a show,” LaJeunesse said.
The cast of “Worm City” is: Doug Brady and Derek Pettinelli, Southbridge; Adrianna Casassa, Rochdale; Sashira Martinez, Walpole; Jenessa Trupiano, Chris LaJeunesse and Tiana Felix, Worcester; Jeremy Zendzian, West Boylston; Stephen Houchins, New Salem; and Jake Glass, Brookfield.