Behind the Scenes of Six Gents: Providence College’s Comedy Club

by Kendall Headley '26 on May 30, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

“What if Willy Wonka led tours at Providence College?” This is a question that would never cross the minds of most Providence College students. But to the members of Six Gents, PC’s sketch comedy club, creativity never ceases to surge. 

Six Gents is composed of around a dozen students of all grades, and includes both men and women despite the name. Auditions occur after the first show of the year, a system designed to let incoming freshmen experience a production first. Auditions require an original two-to-four page sketch performed with existing club members, as well as participation in a “cold read”—reading through the script without prior rehearsal—of a predetermined club sketch. 

“I had no idea if Six Gents would take me when I auditioned. I saw their back to school show and thought ‘Hey, I grew up watching SNL. At the very least, the audition sounds like fun,’” said member Claire Dancause ’26. “So I did it with no expectations and zero sketch writing experience before my audition. The moment I got the email that I was accepted, I was so excited, and honestly, the excitement hasn’t died down since.”

The group is structured democratically, with an executive board, with a president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary,” said Anthony DiSpena ’24. “These people are chosen by the club at the end of the year, and they have some extra responsibilities to maintain structure in the club whether it be facilitating meetings, scheduling shows, buying props, and creating graphics.”

In between meetings, members focus on writing sketches. Dancause draws inspiration for sketches from nearly every corner.

“Life experience, random conversations, TV and movies, books, stand-up, social media, you name it, I’ve probably pulled from it for a sketch,” she said. 

While Dancause maintains a notes page of ideas, she also tends to begin writing directly after an idea hits, later presenting the sketch in the next meeting to receive honest reactions and subsequent feedback.

Club president Aidan Benjamin ’23 commonly searches for ideas in his audience. After solidifying the concept, he favors writing with a partner, finding that bouncing ideas off of each other is beneficial to the writing process. 

“I tend to write sketches first looking at recent events that our audience can relate to,” Benjamin said. “If that doesn’t work, I try to think of experiences that our audience may have in common. For example, a popular children’s TV show or something based around Providence College, and formulate an idea around that.”

Producing a sketch from scratch isn’t always a clear process, said DiSpena. Although he has no shortage of out-of-the-box ideas, “The hardest part for me is always the beginning, writing how the characters get into the plot,” he said. “But once I get a good start, I just go on autopilot. Either that or I write some funny lines into a Doc and try to fill the gaps wherever I can.”

The club meets every Sunday in the Smith Center for the Arts, where they read through sketches or develop them further.  As they near a performance, they take a blind vote, DiSpena said, picking six or seven sketches to include, and add weekday rehearsals into their schedule. 

Participating members in each sketch are chosen by the sketch’s author, and can be solidified after the first  read-through. Parts are then adjusted in order to provide each member an equal amount of stage time. 

 “A sketch will have as many people as it needs to have. Sometimes with a larger cast it gets difficult to balance out lines without the sketch running long, but we have done sketches with all 12 of us,” said member Brendan Phaneuf ’24. “When I write, I try to have at least five parts with a decent amount of dialogue. And if I need someone for just a line or two, adding some extra people helps.”

Six Gents plans to have six performances a year, either every month or every other, and aims to theme each show seasonally or around timely events. While most of the content is scripted, DiSpena improvises lines or physical comedy playing off of the audience’s emotions. Dancause also integrates elements of improv. 

“I’d say our ‘inbetweeners’ are the most unscripted part of any show, because it’s meant to be a short gag or bit to get the audience involved and be ourselves,” she said. 

Member Santi Najarro Cano ’24 is thankful for his fellow members.

“Six Gents is the club I didn’t know I needed to be a part of. It was something that to me I initially felt very uncomfortable doing, but I grew to love it so much over time,” he said. “Getting to collaborate with creative, funny people and also calling them my friends is a blessing and I’m very thankful for that. The shows are electric, but what makes it all worth it is the funny constant collaboration.”

To DiSpena, the club is an outlet, allowing him to reach his maximum creativity and authenticity and share it with the world, he said.

“Despite being new this year, I felt welcomed immediately by everyone and the club and truly value the relationships we have built over our love of comedy, acting, and the arts,” DiSpena said. “Most importantly, I love our audience. It makes me so proud to have others laugh at the sketches I have written or characters I played. We really do it for you all. Thank you so much for watching our shows.”