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Alumni-created sketch comedy group Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels rises in popularity

Alumni Hanna Barlow (left) and Nick Delzompo (right) act in a comedy sketch. The duo comprise Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels, creating humorous videos that have gained traction on multiple platforms. (Courtesy of Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels Business)

By Jaden Weinstein

Nov. 26, 2023 1:58 p.m.

This post was updated Dec. 3 at 8:17 p.m.

Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels is rolling into stardom.

The sketch comedy group Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels, created by alumni Hanna Barlow and Nick Delzompo, is currently growing in popularity on multiple platforms, including TikTok. The partners have created a variety of sketches in their abstract style based on forms of improv comedy and acting that they refined throughout their time at UCLA. The group formed as a result of the instant, hysteric laughs Barlow and Delzompo shared whenever they met after rehearsal for various campus productions, Barlow said.

“We were giggling like crazy, and no one else was laughing,” Barlow said. “I find that not everyone finds this funny, but at least Nick does.”

[Related: Observational stand-up comedian Joshua Dittrich leaves audiences laughing]

The creative forces of Barlow and Delzompo effectively work in tandem, primarily due to their encouragement of each other to fight their own imposter syndrome, Barlow said. Instead of bouncing an idea in their head alone, doubting its significance or laughter potential, Delzompo said one of the best things he and Barlow provide for each other is the reassurance of their ability and comedy skill.

“For most other things, you’re asking other people to take a chance on you so that you might have the opportunity to do something creative,” Barlow said. “It is nice to have this avenue where we are the only people in our way, and we don’t have to wait on someone else.”

Because of the pair’s immense chemistry, Delzompo said it can be hard to decipher between their usual minute-to-minute bits and content destined for the screen when writing a sketch. With each conversation, the two creators attempt to bring their singularly funny ideas to a collaboration of the two’s absurd improvisational style, resulting in a sketch, Barlow said.

Even the name of Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels has a similar origin, grown from the two’s natural exchange of trying to get the other to have the bigger laugh, Delzompo said. With an abrupt interruption, Barlow said she belted out the first half of the name at the sight of a particularly upset toddler, then minutes later, a comically large bike passed by, causing Barlow to complete the name with the phrase “chunky wheels.” This description triggered the naming of their group, said Delzompo, in the same vein as comedic groups like GoodNeighborStuff and Please Don’t Destroy, whom they both showed love for.

(Courtesy of Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels Business)
A still from Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels’ animated intro is shown. The sketch comedy duo selected their name after encountering an upset child and a large bike while on a walk. (Courtesy of Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels Business)

However, in spite of the charming, casual nature of their original skits, Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels is always aiming to improve the look and feel of its output, Barlow said. The pair has chosen to apply a more formal approach to its content by integrating new lighting techniques and the use of a third-party cinematographer with an upscale camera, Barlow said. Increasing the production value in this way has allowed the partnership to become more intentional with what the two create by setting aside certain days to shoot the scripts they spend days writing.

“If we’re going to make a thing, it’s like, ‘We’re meeting on this day at this time, and I’m bringing the $40 lights that we bought on Amazon,” Delzompo said. “That’s what we mean by production quality increase – we went from vertical to horizontal.”

In its journey to improve its sketches, Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels chose to enlist the talents of fourth-year communication student Arielle Powell to shoot and color grade their sketches, Delzompo said. Joining the team to help in all aspects from the ground up, Powell said she is easily able to collaborate with Barlow and Delzompo because of their distinctive voices.

“A really big strength that I think is unique to Nick and Hanna’s writing is their ability to build a world around their characters,” Powell said. “Right off the bat, you know exactly what world you’re in and what the norms are. And then at some point, that world just gets shattered.”

This transition to longer and more elaborate sketches has fueled the duo’s rise in popularity, Barlow said. Beyond this increase in viewership, Delzompo said the two have also benefited from their increase in production value by devoting more efforts toward their individual passions. As Delzompo hopes to hone his comedic acting and Barlow strives to refine her improvisational writing, Delzompo said having the comfortability to pitch whatever idea they want allows the pair to feel confident in their creative efforts.

[Related: Q&A: Comedian Kyle Gordon creates character-filled parody album]

While the duo aims to improve its comedic proficiency for individual projects, the two believe Grumpy Baby Chunky Wheels has potential for larger, more involved content, Barlow said. Already being lauded with comparisons to other successful variety sketch comedy groups, Barlow said the partnership welcomes the possibility of uniting multiple videos together to form something in line with shows like “I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson.” In tandem with a rendition of a TV show, the pair has experience in creating screenplays and frequently chooses to get notes from the other on these individual projects, Barlow said, but have yet to collaborate fully on such an undertaking. Wherever the show ends up rolling, Delzompo said he hopes audiences can find joy in the creations that have brought immense laughter to him and Barlow.

“The ones that we’ve written together are mostly just (about) making each other laugh,” Barlow said. “I don’t know if while we’re writing we are thinking about that secret third person, but I do hope that whoever they are, wherever they are, they enjoy our stuff, too.”

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