Senior Profile: Sam Gordon blends comedy, film and writing

Senior Sam Gordon poses for a photo in the Campus Center on May 7. Ben Kim / The Tufts Daily

One would be hard-pressed to find someone juggling as many mediums in the Tufts comedy scene as graduating senior Sam Gordon. Since coming to Tufts in 2013, the Westchester, N.Y. native has been writing, filming, editing and performing sketches and stand-up for groups across campus, combining his love of comedy with the writing and filmmaking skills he’s developed as an English and film and media studies double major.

Gordon began exploring comedy in high school, where he saw talent shows as opportunities to set himself apart from the crowd.

“I think because most people were trying to sing the whole time, and some people were really good, and some of them… weren’t,” he laughed. “People [saw me] and were like, ‘Oh, this person is doing something that isn’t singing, we’ll cheer him on and laugh.’ It was fun to get that early, immediate feedback.”

At Tufts, Gordon quickly became involved with both all-sketch groups — Major: Undecided and The Institute — as well as the Stand-Up Comedy Collective. These groups have provided him not only with a creative outlet, but also with a strong community and support system.

“When I got to Tufts, I was amazed to find that there’s such an engaged community of people who are so excited about comedy,” he said. “It’s been great having a group of people that I can talk about [my interests], a group of people who are really caring and nice. It’s really where I’ve made all of my best friends.”

Gordon believes that there is significant overlap in membership between the comedy and art scenes on campus.

“Many people in the comedy community are artistically and creatively minded, and I think they have other artistic endeavors beyond writing sketches — but I think the communities are orbiting bodies, not so much one core unit,” he said.

In addition to membership overlap, both comedy groups and performing arts groups on campus face many similar issues, according to Gordon. For example, both comedy and performing arts groups contend with limited access to performance spaces and lack of representation by and for women and people of color.

But Gordon cited TFL, an all-femme comedy group founded in 2016, as an example of a group that has made a concerted effort to center the voices of women and people of color in comedy. Gordon hopes that more groups will continue to work to address these issues.

“The comedy spaces [at Tufts] are still predominantly white spaces,” he said. “I don’t presume to understand what it’s like to walk into a room and not see a space you belong in, but we’re trying to take steps to encourage everyone to join comedy and make people feel more comfortable and heard in those spaces.”

Throughout his time at Tufts, Gordon is particularly proud of his role as Artistic Director of Major: Undecided, which he’s held since his junior year. Working one-on-one with writers and watching them grow, he explained, has been the most rewarding part of this experience.

“Being able to sit down with someone and pore over a sketch is a lot of fun,” he said. “I’ve been doing it for two years, so I’ve [been able] to see people who are two years in who have gotten so much better.”

Last spring, Gordon was able to take on another mentorship role when he co-taught a course through the Experimental College called “Dark Topics in Modern TV Comedies.”

After graduation, Gordon plans to move to New York City and pursue comedy, film production and editing opportunities.

“My eggs are currently in that basket, so I’m trying to make it work,” he said. “I have some freelance work as an editor lined up. I’ve just come to learn that this is what I really love doing.”

He encouraged everyone to try out comedy at some point in their lives.

“I joined comedy because it was full of people who fostered creative growth,” he said. “The creative voices on this campus never cease to amaze me.”