In the summer of 2013, Tori Pence chopped 10 inches off her hair and rocked a pixie cut — something she had wanted to do for years. That season, she was also known throughout the Aspen Grove Family camp as the rule-promoting superhero — Aspen Man. But the real reason June, July and August changed her life that year was a petition that was passed around to convince Tori to audition for BYU’s Divine Comedy. This superhero made good on the idea.
Landing a spot on Divine Comedy wasn’t the last laugh for this now 25-year-old. This year, she took on a full-time gig as a featured cast member on “Studio C.”
But long before Tori donned the comedy chops, she developed a love of the library that began across the country.
The town Tori calls home is Buena Vista, Virginia — home to 6,600, with eight of those being her siblings. Since her older sister worked at the library, Tori’s parents would often drop her off among the books.
“Reading is what raised me,” Tori says. “It was an integral part of my youth and my childhood.”
In high school, the literature combined with laughter when Tori started a drama club with her friends to perform comedic versions of classic Shakespeare plays.
“I like getting people to laugh,” Tori says. “All my life, I have wanted to make people happy.”
And people have wanted to be around her funny bone. Tori’s sister Bekah was known for her beauty (she was Miss Virginia in 2015). So while Bekah received compliments about her looks, Tori got compliments about her humor.
“I’ve been kind of goofy and funny all my life so I haven’t hit the walls other girls have,” Tori says. “You’re told, ‘Girls should be pretty and need to be delicate.’ I’m grateful daily for the fact that I’m able to make comedy and feel good about myself. I’m not stuck in this box.”
When it came time for her college education, Tori’s plan was simple — get an undergraduate degree in anything and then get her master’s in library science so she could become a librarian.
“I got my degree in studio art, but I majored in Divine Comedy,” Tori says.
While Tori made the campus laugh, she also filled children with glee as a storyteller at the Provo Library. Tori would adapt her Divine Comedy sketches into puppet shows and vice versa. Kids across the valley have sat at her feet enjoying her songs and dances, and she often gets hugs at the grocery store.
“I’ll be standing somewhere and feel little arms and hear, ‘Hello Miss Tori!’ It’s the best thing ever,” she says.
In addition to little friends, the cast of Divine Comedy became some of Tori’s best friends — including Studio C’s Stephen Meek, Stacey Harkey and Adam Berg. In February 2017, Studio C’s Matt Meese called and offered Tori a spot as a featured cast member on the show.
“It’s hard to get into the comedy world, but I have an opportunity to be part of this show that’s crushing it on YouTube. It’s amazing,” Tori says. “We get to touch viewers all over the world now. I can make people in Iceland happy.”
Studio C’s Season 8 will include three new faces. “Studio C” officially announced Tori as the newest cast member in March. Soon after, two others from Divine Comedy also became part of the cast — Dalton Johnson and Aaron Fielding.
“Don’t worry. Nobody is leaving the cast,” Tori says. “That’s everyone’s fear in the world.”
When Studio C began in 2012, it had four main faces (Matt Meese, Mallory Everton, Jason Gray and Whitney Call). In 2014, the main cast grew to 10. Aaron, Dalton and Tori bring the cast to 13 as Season 8 rolls out this fall.
“Bringing three people to lighten the load is really nice,” Tori says. “Everyone does comedy different, and we bring new ideas.”