If you live in the Frosh Quad, you probably already know this, but it’s that time of year again: Frosh Revue is coming! And I’m going to tell you why you need to see it.
I will state my bias upfront. I was a cast member of Frosh Revue 2007 and a director of Frosh Revue 2008. As a senior, I am in the midst of my prerequisite reflection on what I’ve done during my time at Williams, and one of the things that has become perfectly clear to me is that long after I leave here Frosh Revue will hold a special place in my heart. That is in large part because of the people, that community of quirky and talented Ephs I consider among my closest friends. But Frosh Revue is also a Williams institution steeped in tradition, and as a member of this college community, the hour of skits and songs has taken on an even greater importance as I begin to see the outbound curve of the purple bubble.
I wanted to say something before Frosh Revue, rather than wait until the reviews come out and the show is over, because of what I read in last year’s review. On the whole the review was very complementary, but from the title the main criticism becomes clear: “Frosh Revue charms in spite of lackluster riffs” (Oct. 28, 2009). The writer has since graduated and is a friend of mine, but when I read the word “stale,” my thought was – you’re a senior, of course the jokes seem old to you.
But now that I’m a senior, I know something about repeated jokes. When I was a first-year, my JA, Elissa Brown ’09, was a Frosh Revue alum. During Winter Study, we watched with the entries of two other alums (Eric Kang ’09 and Ruth Aronoff ’09) the DVD of Frosh Revue 2005. As my friends and I watched, we compared their skits to our own and were shocked by the similarities. An Adam and Eve parody with God as a JA. Super Mario going around campus. A menagerie of roommates. And if I wrote that experience off as an anomaly, I could not ignore last year’s performance of a Matrix Parody very similar to one we did in 2007. Despite being years apart, we had a lot of the same things to say – because regardless of class year, entry, neighborhood, etc., we go to the same school and share the same pop culture vocabulary.
If some of the ideas remain constant, or jokes get repeated from year to year, it’s because Williams hasn’t changed all that much. And that’s what’s fascinating about Frosh Revue: It’s more than just a show for the parents. It’s the entertaining record of our shared experience, a kind of initiation to our campus humor for a new class of first-years (as understood by their peers). Frosh Revue has a history of using Amherst as a villain and poking fun at admission policies. The announcement of Adam Falk’s arrival last year was swiftly met with a memorable Frosh Revue welcome. Frosh Revue has its finger on the pulse of Williams culture and is an opportunity for light-hearted self-reflection. Before there was Claiming Williams Day, there was Frosh Revue, holding up a mirror to give the community a better look at itself. Granted it’s a funhouse mirror, but Frosh Revue is not just campy; it’s social commentary. Really, really campy social commentary. As first-years and sophomores, the cast and directors of Frosh Revue see the campus with relatively new eyes and a fresh perspective. As upperclassmen, if we see something we don’t like on stage, it’s because we’ve given the 2014s the wrong impression.
One last story: When I was visiting Williams for Previews, I went to the Jamboree and saw Frosh Revue 2006 perform their version of blink-182’s “What’s My Age Again?” In less than four minutes I saw the crystallization of the enthusiasm, sense of humor and even intelligence that I had seen in Williamstown that cold and rainy day and realized it was what I wanted for the next four years. The kids at the Jamboree never tried to pass off this place as perfect, but they were happy to be here and wanted you to be happy here, too. Frosh Revue is an hour-long celebration of Williams College and, like Mountain Day or Homecoming, asks us to find joy in our community.
More than just a show, Frosh Revue is Our Show. It belongs to us. No one else will get these jokes, appreciate these references or be able to laugh at Williams the way we can. Everything that is great about Williams and Williams students will be up on that stage, and as a result, Frosh Revue should leave us brimming with Williams pride and with a better sense of what that means. I know it taught me to love this place.