The Freshman (1925)


“College is the reward for surviving high school.” –Judd Apatow, comedy writer and producer

On move-in day at college way back in 2011, I wanted everything to be perfect. Ideally, the girls would be in awe of how many boxes I could carry at once and I’d be best pals with everyone on my floor in the first 30 minutes. Wishful thinking. Bodies were so drenched in sweat after dragging our college necessities up four flights of stairs (in a dorm with no A.C., might I add) that no one wanted to be anybody’s new friend for a few hours.

The expectation that accompanies going to college is prime real estate for many genres of filmmaking. Monsters University is about misfit monsters who just want to fit in with the other frats and *srats on campus. (*Urban dictionary promises me this is a valid abbreviation for “sorority,” so it must be true.) Dead Poets Society is most definitely not a comedy, but young scholars squandering their newfound freedom is interesting to watch, especially with Robin Williams as their guardian.

The Freshman proves that this scholastic nervous energy is nothing new. Harold Lloyd, who is famous for iconic silent films like this one, stars as incoming freshman Harold Lamb. In an attempt to be popular, he dances a little jig whenever he introduces himself and single-handedly becomes the laughingstock of Tate College (filmed at USC). But Peggy, a fellow student and the daughter of his landlady, loves him. She tells him to quit pretending to be someone he’s not and show people the real Harold Lamb. Aww.

Without a doubt, the funniest scene in The Freshman is when Harold wears an unfinished tailored suit to a dance and the fabric starts ripping at the seams. He makes his tailor come to the dance incognito with needle and thread in tow to prevent any Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunctions. (Don’t worry, I decided not to include a YouTube link for that reference.) This plan succeeds for most of the evening thanks to the tailor’s superhumanly nimble fingers, but eventually the suit falls to pieces and Harold is left on the dance floor in his underwear.

The most fun people in college were the ones who could care less if the student body saw them in their underwear. One incident that comes to mind is the time a classmate stood up on a table at the cafeteria and dropped a handful of spaghetti down his pants. While I never did anything quite that noteworthy, I’m pretty proud of getting the president of the university to don gangsta bling for a commercial. And then there are the students who just like to watch the crazy ones do their thing, and that’s okay, too.

It might sound like the conclusion of a Full House episode, but I can vouch for Peggy on this one: in school or elsewhere, be authentic to who you are and you’re bound to find a place to belong!