Street Staff Writer Aoi Senjuschlepped himselfinto Frist Campus Center this Tuesday to meet Lobster Club founders, Nicky “Fapfap” Robinson and Preston “Public Kemeny” Kemeny, who got him better acquainted with “the funniest crustaceans under the sea.”
DP: What was the idea behind founding an audition-free comedy club?
NR: Most of our founding members were people who had originally auditioned for Fuzzy Dice and/or Quipfire, made callbacks and didn’t get in. At the callbacks, we were told, “We had 120 people trying out this year, and we could only take two to three people. There are a lot more people on campus that want to do improv than there is space. You guys should start your own improv club or something.” They tell that to every group every year, but we’re the first group to actually take it to heart and make a new group.
PK: We founded the club originally just inviting friends and people we met through the audition process, but eventually, we saw that more and more people were interested in joining, so we decided to make our club audition-free.
DP: What do you think the advantages are of such a club?
NR:Being in an audition group of any kind takes a lot of time, and there are a lot of people who are really funny but can’t make the level of time commitment required. In Lobster Club, people can choose their own level of commitment, so that anyone can choose their own level of involvement.
PK: But while we are a non-audition group, we aren’t a no-commitment group. If people actually want to perform with us, people have to come to our workshops every week, and they have to put time into the club. We just give people who’ve never done improv the opportunity to try it.There’s an impression that Lobster Club just shows up spontaneously to events, but we’ve practiced every single game we perform for a long time and very extensively.
DP: Why does improv interest you?
PK: The thing about improv is that you can literally just show up and jump into it immediately. You’re simultaneously writing, directing and acting, you’re working with incredible people and anything can happen.
DP: Do you think you are setting a standard for future clubs at Princeton?
NR: There are a lot of audition clubs and non-audition clubs at Princeton, but it just so happens that a lot of performing arts clubs do auditions. But while there are a ton of dance groups and a cappella groups, improv’s always been in a position where a lot of people wanted to do it, but there was never enough space.There are also a lot of groups that audition frosh week and the week after, so for a lot of the people, the moment they walk onto campus, they’re sucked into a group, and that becomes their year, two years or their entire Princeton career. That’s probably the biggest problem: that audition groups restrict your ability to try something else.
PK: There’s a lot of talk about the nature of selectivity at Princeton, be it eating clubs or extracurricular activities or whatever, and I think it’s important that there’s an alternative to that, like non-bicker clubs or non-audition clubs. Performing arts don’t have to be selective. Anyone can sing, or dance, or improv.
DP: Are there any clubs you’d be interested in collaborating with?
PK: We’re very interested in working with other improv groups for performance reasons. I think there’s a lot other groups can teach us, and we’ve developed a lot of interesting games that they may be interested in playing. There’s a lot we could do if we worked together.
DP: Tell me about the name.
NR: When we started, we had a brainstorming session, and we came up with the name Shruggers. At one of the activities fairs, we decided we would attract attention by advertising ourselves as fake groups, so we held up different signs with group names like Students Against Drunk Skydiving, the Students for the Ancient Egyptian Freedom Movement and Lobster Club. Lobster Club ended up being really popular, and we thought, “What if we changed our name to Lobster Club?” We also have a huge lobster suit lying around.
DP: Any shows coming up that we should all look out for?
PK: We have a performance in the Whitman Class of 1970 Theater, November 21-23rd, with an intermission by the Princeton Magic Club.
DP: Anything you want to say to interested freshmen or other potential members?
PK: Whitman Class of 1970 Theater, Monday nights, 10-11:30 p.m. We want you there. Anyone can do improv.