Editor’s note: Sam McQuaid is a senior member of TFL, Tufts’ gender minority sketch comedy group.
On April 14, the TFL seniors performed in the final show of our Tufts comedy careers, a sentence whose language may sound a bit lofty given its reference to a sketch comedy group but holds great emotional significance for those of us graduating. Simply saying the phrase “non-audition gender minority collegiate sketch comedy group” is a sure-fire way to get a chuckle in conversation or a laugh during a stand-up set (we even put it on a sticker!). But even though we say it for laughs, it holds the weight of so much love. None of us would be quite the same without the group of hilarious and supportive people we’ve amassed.
In 2019, when we were only three years out from our inception, we were little-known enough that there was not very much pressure to do well. We don’t mean to imply that we weren’t at all funny then or that being an up-and-coming comedy group for gender minorities is a walk in the park; we definitely felt we had a lot to prove. But we were still getting our footing. Now, in our seventh year, and as our first-year members are set to graduate the year of our 10th anniversary in 2026, we feel the drive to meet the quality standards that we know our audiences have come to expect. While that can certainly be stressful at times, it pushes us to maintain our own standards and values; when we hit a stride, that’s when we reach higher.
In the past four years, we’ve experienced some immense growing pains. TFL used to be so small that our five-person executive board numbered nearly half of our members. Now we have an expanded executive board of over 10 people and 30–40 people involved in each show, many of whom are consistent and dedicated members. As we continue to grow, which we hope we will, we are constantly looking to adapt our structure to work for us. We’ve added, eliminated and merged e-board positions. We’ve learned how to write comedically, how to film and edit and caption (though we’re always looking for more video team members…) and — lest I be overly saccharine — we’ve formed some really solid relationships along the way.
We have an unofficial motto in TFL: We refuse to let someone go on stage and not be funny. This is not to say that we bar people from performing based on our own opinions of their comedy — in fact, we encourage our members to bring their authentic humor without fear of being judged — but rather that we want everyone to feel confident in their sketches and stand-up sets, and we will always work until we have a piece people are happy with. It’s this dedication to each other’s success that both reflects and shapes the culture of the group. One reason why our content thrives is that we respect each other, and we have fun making it. We let members play to their strengths and also make space for them to explore areas of content creation that are new to them.
There are seniors who have been involved with TFL all four years of their time at Tufts, there are senior walk-ons and everything in between. The truth is that you find TFL when you need it, whether that is after being rejected from all the a cappella groups you auditioned for, when you are struggling to socialize because you’re holed up in your dorm all day as a pandemic rages on outside or if you’re just looking for a fun way to spend your senior year. Somehow you end up among a gaggle of kind and comical people who encourage you to be your best and funniest self.