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.”

Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn Split: Reactions Reveal Public Attitudes Toward Female Artists

by Kendall Headley '26 on May 29, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

Just weeks ago, Taylor Swift and Joe Alwyn reportedly called it quits after six private years together. An insider shared that “they had been together for such a long time and were spending so much time together, but their personalities were just too different,” stating that Alwyn is more introverted than Swift, who initiated the breakup. 

Many speculate that the seemingly arbitrary timing may be due to Swift’s recent burst of fame—when the couple got together, she had been out of the spotlight for nearly two years after releasing her album 1989 in 2014, and would continue to lead an exclusively personal life until she dropped Reputation in 2017. Currently, Swift is living amidst multiple re-releases of her previous albums, the popularity of her new album, Midnights, released in October 2022, and her ongoing Eras Tour across the United States’ largest venues. This surge of action by Swift elevated her current celebrity status, which may have driven the couple apart. 

Fans were taken aback at the split, due to the duration of the relationship and their collaboration on deeply emotional projects, such as her albums folklore and evermore. Public reactions have varied widely, with some looking to her lyrics as a source of mutual mourning and emotional insight and others adopting critical opinions about her character. 

Many social media posts have  praised Swift for her ability to continue performing after the end of a six-year relationship. Others have recognized Swift’s journey through love as influencing their own—one  TikTok user expressed that the breakup affected her significantly because “when [Swift] found the one she made us believe that we will find our Reputation and Lover after we went through Red. She helped us realize that love was supposed to be golden.” 

Despite the support and spotlight on her artistic intelligence, some reactions reflect the thinking that followed Swift for the majority of her young adulthood. Before her step back from the stage in 2015 and subsequent relationship with Alwyn, many judged Swift’s character by the men with whom she was involved. Interview questions inquired about her dating life rather than her projects: On The Ellen Show in 2011, DeGeneres prompted her to answer, “I am Taylor Swift, and I am dating ‘blank,’” after she had repeatedly said nobody. In a red carpet interview at the 2015 Grammy Awards, a reporter told her, “you’re going to walk home with more than maybe just a trophy tonight, I think lots of men.” Both of these instances exemplify the misogynistic treatment she has faced: a disregard of her artistic accomplishments and focus on the men in her life. Similar approaches have emerged after the split. One Twitter user wrote, “Taylor Swift fans after she breaks up for the 100th time and proceeds to release yet another album blaming her bf for the breakup.” This response, instead of understanding emotional turmoil as the source of inspiration for her music, boiled her career down to albums “blaming her boyfriends.” 

Reactions to Swift and Alwyn’s split signifies societal progress past the standard of judging women’s careers and character based on their relationship status, leaving the public with a sense of appreciation for the complexity of female art. While these advancements are eminent, glaring inconsistencies mirroring aged ways of thinking still permeate. Swift has always been transparent on her stance. In the closing statements of her Netflix documentary, Miss Americana, she says, “I want to still have a sharp pen and a thin skin and an open heart.”

Providence College Alum’s Novel Adapted to Film

by Kendall Headley '26 on March 6, 2023
A&E Staff

Arts & Entertainment

“Oh, you mean August 19, 2015?” said author and Providence College alumni Paul Tremblay ’93 about renowned horror novelist Stephen King’s positive commentary towards his fourth book, A Head Full of Ghosts. “I have the date memorized.”

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay: Scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare,” wrote King in a tweet on the date Tremblay immediately recounted. To Tremblay, this was the highest recognition—in graduate school at the University of Vermont, King’s novel The Stand catalyzed his horror-writing career. 

“I’m not ashamed to say I got emotional when I saw his tweet,” Tremblay said. “I mean, I became a reader because of him, nevermind a writer.”

Tremblay has published nine works, all a combination of literary fiction and horror, winning various honors such as the Bram Stoker Award for Horror Novel and the Massachusetts Book Award. Many of his novels take place in New England, where he was raised, which gives Tremblay’s stories an expert edge.

“New England has a rich long tradition in horror and gothic fiction,” Tremblay said. “I think that’s a wonderful advantage, because I can either lean into the knowledge that so many readers already have about fiction that takes place in this area, or I can try to manipulate that and upend expectations of what a New England horror story is.”

Tremblay begins the process of creating a novel with concepts scribbled into his notebooks, which he keeps on hand for moments of spontaneous insight. If an idea sparks his interest, he begins to craft a short summary of the storyline. Tremblay’s strengths lie in character voice and development, he said, so utilizing a “roadmap” of the plot while writing is key. To Tremblay, the exciting part is watching how the story changes throughout the process.

In writing A Head Full of Ghosts, Tremblay knew initially that there would be fatalities within the main family, but did not yet know what mechanism would cause it. At the beginning of the book, what he had written as a minor character detail—the younger sister’s distaste for spaghetti sauce—turned into a principal factor of the novel’s ending. 

“It seems like such a serendipitous thing, but I think as the writer—it’s hard to explain how you do this, but you learn to trust your subconscious,” Tremblay said. “You don’t know why a certain detail goes in, but you’ll trust it needs to be there. The more you allow [your subconscious] free reign, the more it’s going to help you.”

The Cabin at the End of the World, released in 2018, was recently adapted into a movie, Knock at the Cabin, by director M. Night Shyamalan. The movie features actors such as Dave Bautista and Rupert Grint and hit theaters on Feb. 3, 2023, reaching No. 1 at the box office just two days after its launch. Tremblay’s role in the movie was slightly removed, he said. 

The film production company, in Tremblay’s case, FilmNation, “optioned” the book in 2017—essentially obtaining the right to use an author’s work as the basis for a motion picture. Later, in late 2019, Shyamalan became interested in producing the movie, which developed into an interest in both writing and directing it. After discussing it with Tremblay, he decided to write the screenplay, and Universal bought the rights according to the terms negotiated on the FilmNation optioning deal. Soon after, filming began.

Tremblay was simultaneously nervous and excited for the production. The Cabin at the End of the World was a “personal project” to him, but the nature of creation is cemented on taking inspiration from other works and retelling them in a unique way, he said. 

“In some ways, that’s what the horror genre is, right?” he said. “If you think of it as this 200-year history of horror works. There’s the tropes, you know, vampires, zombies, et. cetera. The fun part is using the stuff that’s already been established and trying to create something new.”

Ultimately, Tremblay was pleased with the overall film. Having only observed one day of filming on set, the premier was his first full viewing. The premier, though stressful due to the unknowns, proved to be a true horror experience. 

“There are parts [where] I was getting teary eyed because it was so close to the book, and there are other parts where it just felt so intense, like I wanted to get up and run out of the theater,” Tremblay said. “My favorite parts of the film are its visuals; it’s [a] stunningly shot, gorgeously composed movie. My other favorite part is the characters themselves, the actors. I think their performances are fabulous. They all really inhabit the emotional lives of the characters that I envisioned in the book.”

Tremblay attributes his confidence to his time at Providence College, and finds Friartown as the place that piqued his interest in reading. His second semester senior year, a graduation requirement placed him into a freshman-level English class. However, the professor, Professor McLaughlin, fulfilled the common stereotype of the “Cool English Teacher,” he said, and connected with Tremblay instantly. 

“In that class, we read a short story called Where are you going? Where have you been? by Joyce Carol Oates,” he said.  “And I remember thinking, ‘I didn’t know people wrote stuff like this.’ I thought it was just so clever. It was so not like the other stories that I had been assigned in high school. It felt really personal and sinister, even though there’s no violence on the page. There’s just a crackling threat of it.”

To aspiring writers, Tremblay has two simple pieces of advice. 

“Besides read all the time,” he said, “I think the best advice is to give yourself permission to be patient with yourself. It’s okay to learn from rejection. To me, it’s always been about if you’re patient and persistent, if you keep writing and you keep submitting, it’s a numbers game. If you give yourself more and more chances, then the odds are more in your favor.”

To  students of the College in particular, Tremblay recounts that some of his best memories included the people he surrounded himself with. 

“I found the confidence to be who I was at Providence. I went to a fairly big public high school; it was easy to get lost and I just wasn’t a very confident kid. College, PC in particular, felt like a chance to start over. The biggest thing I remember are the friends and how non-judgmental everybody was. Everyone was just excited about your passions and your interests. And to me that was like a world changing thing.”