Doing a Bit

Maxwell Crane foresees his future in comedy and video production
Maxwell Crane performs a monologue in “A Few Bits of Advice.” Behind the scenes, Crane worked tirelessly to create an entertaining script, which called for him to act in each segment of the video. Serving as the writer and director, acting was just another hat he got to wear during the pilots production. “Hes very passionate about what he wants to do and he has a clear vision of the projects that he wants to produce,” Davidson said. “Based on all the things that hes done [from] elementary school to [high school], hes a very driven young man.”
Maxwell Crane performs a monologue in “A Few Bits of Advice.” Behind the scenes, Crane worked tirelessly to create an entertaining script, which called for him to act in each segment of the video. Serving as the writer and director, acting was just another hat he got to wear during the pilot’s production. “He’s very passionate about what he wants to do and he has a clear vision of the projects that he wants to produce,” Davidson said. “Based on all the things that he’s done [from] elementary school to [high school], he’s a very driven young man.”
Maxwell Crane
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It takes senior Maxwell Crane no longer than a week to develop a proposal for a sketch comedy script. First, he must stumble upon an idea, which more often than not, he deems as unsatisfactory after mulling it over for an hour. However, every few months, he comes across an idea that’s too compelling to ignore. 

The Setup

Crane’s fascination with comedy revealed itself as early as the fourth grade when he hosted “Late Night With Maxwell,” a web series formatted like a traditional talk show. Per special permission from Broadcast Technology teacher Don Goble, the series was filmed and edited in Ladue High School’s TV studio. 

“Comedy has been something I’ve been interested in since I was really young,” Crane said. “I watched a lot of comedy movies as a kid and that’s definitely what sparked my interest.”

Despite this, Crane credits his enrollment in Broadcast Technology courses for what first inspired him to consider a career in comedy writing. In Broadcast Technology II, he had the opportunity to execute his first sketch.

“My first real project that I had creative control over was a 60-second parody of an Apple announcement where they announced the phones,” Crane said. “But instead of the phone, it was me. So, it was me in a white void with the panning shots, and it had all the new features, like [being] waterproof, and I dumped a cup of water on my head.”

As a senior in high school, Crane continues to create videos with support from his teachers, including Video Technology Coordinator Marteana Davidson.

“[Crane is] a jack of all trades, because he is able to work in front of the camera, behind the scenes [and] write,” Davidson said. “Not all students are able to do that.”

The Build

During his junior year, Crane created a concept for a TV pilot episode using Ladue’s filming space. His video, “A Few Bits of Advice,” begins with an introductory sketch in which Crane, playing a fictionalized version of himself, haphazardly attempts to fool his teacher into thinking that he completed a 500-page script, when in reality, this is far from the truth. 

“I think comedy is best when it imitates real life,” Crane said. “Because the root of comedy is people being able to relate to it. You need to have an expectation if you’re going to have a punchline that subverts the expectation.”

While Crane’s proof of concept pilot is composed of primarily lighthearted content, he doesn’t shy away from depicting the negative aspects of comedy writing. Following the opening sketch, he performs a monologue for an enthusiastic audience. As the crowd showers Crane with praise at the end of the segment, the scene cuts to his present self observing the clip in a dark room as a hauntingly brooding, faceless critic taunts him, claiming that the audience was laughing out of pity. 

“The best way I [know] how to do comedy is through relating and creating stuff based on my own life, because you can only write what you know,” Crane said. 

On the set of a major film, there are hundreds of production assistants on standby. However, due to the limited number of people available to assist him, Crane wore many different hats when creating his pilot episode. In addition to writing the video, he also served as the director, set up lighting and storyboarded all of his shots.

“It’s just such an interesting experience because you get to be hands-on with all of these different things and you learn how every single step of the process works,” Crane said. “Being able to do [several aspects of video production] gives you a better grasp on all of it.”

Despite taking ownership of a large portion of “A Few Bits of Advice,” he had help from a few of his fellow Broadcast Technology students, including senior Carter Chuquimia, who has been enrolled in the class for two years and acted in the video’s concluding sketch.

“He’s not the type to settle for an okay scene when it could easily be done better, which is something I admire about the guy,” Chuquimia said. “This mindset in [the comedy] industry is crucial, and I can absolutely see it benefiting him in the long run.”

Oftentimes, Crane uses his videos as catalysts for sharing his life experiences. For instance, in his most recent film, “L’dor V’dor,” which is Hebrew for “from generation to generation,” he explores his personal connection to Judaism. For Crane, creating universally relatable content is a priority.

“If everyone can relate to [my videos], then there’s already a set expectation,” Crane said. “Being able to pull from my own life and exaggerate that and make it something that’s not only funny, but something that I can put my own experiences into was a fantastic experience.”

The Punchline

In 2023, “Script Shenanigans,” one of two sketches featured in “A Few Bits of Advice,” earned Crane a nomination for a Mid-America Emmy Award for High School Writer. The announcement was made when he was in the middle of an AP test, so he didn’t find out about it until later that day.

“I was sitting at lunch and I was looking through my email, and I see the Mid-America Student Emmy Awards in my email,” Crane said. “I was like, ‘Oh, I forgot they released that today. I have to click on it.’ The minute I click on it and my Wi-Fi ends up connecting, I get all these texts from my mom and Mr. Goble with the screenshots.”

As for what’s next for Crane’s career, he is taking any opportunity to gain further recognition for his work, including uploading videos to his website: Under Construction Productions. Additionally, he is currently in the process of applying for film schools and building a portfolio that showcases his skill set. Later in life, he hopes to work as a writer for television. 

“The big thing [colleges] look for is storytelling because they can teach you all the technical stuff later,” Crane said. “That’s not a problem. But storytelling is something that’s not very easy to teach.”

Long gone are the days of “Late Night With Maxwell,” but that doesn’t mean it’s the end of Crane’s success. Hopeful of what’s to come, Crane is astutely aware that he’ll have to work hard for a flourishing career in comedy.

“Comedy is so competitive and so tough,” Crane said. “The best [thing] you can do is put yourself out there and get noticed by the right person.”

See Maxwell Crane’s portfolio

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About the Contributor
Ella Braig
Ella Braig, Staff
Junior Ella Braig is a first-year staffer on Panorama. Outside of writing for the school newspaper, Ella is a student board officer for Ladue's thespian troupe. Additionally, she enjoys playing guitar and watching Hallmark Christmas movies.
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