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Fuzzy Dice: An improv family

Since its establishment in 2004, Fuzzy Dice Improv Comedy has grown from a few friends doing shows in the residential colleges to an established troupe performing in packed venues before boisterous and enthusiastic audiences. Originally intended to bring long-form improvisational comedy to campus, Princeton’s self-declared “Most Attractive Improv Group” has since evolved to include short-form games as well. Perhaps most recognizable of these is the eponymous Fuzzy Dice game, a variation of a traditional improv game that involves four players scrambling and shuffling between different scenes at the ring of a bell. Indeed, Fuzzy Dice is no stranger to experimentation, and it often modifies classical improv to make it its own.

Executive Director Dillon Sharp ’14 pointed out that unlike many performing arts groups on campus, Fuzzy Dice has the numbers to support the “no experience necessary” claim. A majority of the 14 members have never tried improv or theater, and, of the three new recruits, none have had prior experience. As Sara “Figes” Figel ’14, artistic director and one of the four members who did improv in high school, explained, “I don’t think I’m a better improviser because I have done more years of it — it can actually work against you if you’ve developed a style of improv that’s incompatible with the group. It’s really hard to break those habits and get on the same page.” Rather, in auditions the group looks for people who are willing to “jump up and commit to a scene where they only have half the control and no plan.”

When asked the ultimate objective of Fuzzy Dice, Secretary and Alumni Coordinator Dan Steurer ’14 responded without missing a beat: “World domination!” To clarify, Figel chimed in, “Laughing is just good for the soul. In a place like Princeton where everyone is stressed all the time, it’s nice to be able to provide an hour of just this mindless, ridiculous … experience that can never be related. The objective is to bring that can-do, make-it-up-as-you-go playfulness to campus and into people’s lives.”

Fuzzy Dice takes this goal to another level during Princeton Preview, when it joins tours masquerading as caricatures of prefrosh. The group has incited many positive responses from prospective students in putting on exaggerated personas such as “The Super Lax Bro” and “The Overachiever” while asking ridiculous questions (“Is this the jelly bean factory?” “Does Princeton have the largest repertoire of ragtime music?”).

Fresh off its most recent (and uproariously funny) show last Thursday, entitled “Babies” in a nod to the debut of its three new members, Fuzzy Dice looks ahead to its Valentine’s Day show in February. Though most of the shows are named for the sake of publicity rather than for a general theme, in the past the group has had concept shows, such as its “Lost in Time” show featuring games with time restrictions. The members are also looking forward to their annual Intersession retreat, during which they attend and host workshops, perform at high schools and bond as a group. The members consider this a particularly valuable opportunity to strengthen their ties as an on-campus family and build up the mutual trust essential to supporting one another onstage.

It doesn’t take more than a few minutes with Fuzzy Dice to see that these efforts have been successful. Beyond being a group of talented and hilarious people, the members are, first and foremost, a tight-knit circle of friends. Steurer stated that Fuzzy Dice bridges academic and social divides and that it has helped him form strong bonds with people he might never have met otherwise. Social Chair Angad Anand ’16 joked that as a new member last year, “it was a little intimidating getting into the group because they were very aggressive about our friendship.” On a more serious note, he described being a part of Fuzzy Dice as “being adopted into a family with brothers and sisters — they’re always there for you.”

Sharp agreed wholeheartedly. “My number-one takeaway has been these friends that I’ve made,” he said. “I cannot imagine my Princeton experience without Fuzzy Dice.”

 

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