UTC student Shannen Sharpe needed a final video project for a communications class, so she hit the streets with a stack of money and a pile of stupid questions.
Paying a sort of homage to comedian Billy Eichner’s “Billy on the Street” shows, Sharpe went around the UTC campus asking students bizarrely absurd questions with the chance to win a dollar.
Sharpe's version is called "Shannen on the Street."
But these aren’t just your typical Q&A sessions.
Eichner’s interview technique is almost violently aggressive and awkward. He runs, literally, around New York City asking random passers-by questions about the entertainment industry or celebrities.
“Sir, do you prefer Daniel Day Lewis’ moustache in ‘Gangs of New York’ or Selma Hayek’s when she’s not working?” he asks in this lightning round segment.
He asks a poor woman carrying a yoga bag to “name a white woman” and she can’t do it in this segment.
Sharpe wanted to recreate this scenario on campus. The video was a part of UTC’s in-house television show called “501 Houston,” after the location of the renovated TV production studio.“I don’t really want to be on camera,” she said. “The producers are the ones who are in charge. They have all the control.”
“We literally had free reign as to what we could to do for our video project,” Sharpe said. “Most of the questions—about 25 to 30 percent—were mine, but the rest were from Eichner.”
But part of what makes Eichner’s videos work so well has to do with the access he has to 8.3 million people in New York City.
UTC's campus population is NOT 8.3 million.
But Sharpe said much of the success comes from forcing unsuspecting people—going about their daily routines—into doing something they don't feel comfortable doing.
“People hate dealing with media just doing regular interviews,” she said. “So, when you don’t even give them the option to make a choice, and just put the microphone in their face, I think their reactions are hilarious.”
Sharpe graduates from UTC on May 3 and already has a job lined up with NewsChannel 9 as a producer.
She currently works at the station part-time. You can follow her on twitter at @sh4nnen