February 18, 2010
Liz Freeman, a sophomore from New Hartford, N.Y., reads from an original script during a rehearsal for the Gallows' Feb. 17 performance.
WOOSTER, Ohio - A funny thing happens every other Wednesday at The College of Wooster when a group of students belonging to the Gallows (as in gallows humor) gathers in Mateer Auditorium for an evening of comedy and hijinks.
As the name suggests, the Gallows produces humor based on stressful or difficult situations reflective of what college students might face during an average week of academic rigor. The 10 students who run the group create original scripts and rehearse the night before, but their ultimate objective runs much deeper than simply generating a few cheap laughs. As one of Wooster's 30 community service-oriented program houses, the group is charged with providing a midweek entertainment alternative (as is the case at many schools, Wednesdays have traditionally been a party night on campus) in a chemical-free environment. No alcohol, no drugs, no tobacco - just amusing sketches to ease the stress of impending labs, exams, papers, and presentations.
Performances begin at 10:17.30 (no one knows why for sure, but it must have been funny at the time) and last about 30-45 minutes. Students draw up about five to seven sketches for each show, and admission is free.
"We address a lot of different topics, everything from dinosaurs to pregnancy," said Heather Moore, a senior physics major from Fairport, N.Y. "Some of it is situational, some of it is based on current events. We try to write about things that we think are funny and that students can relate
to." Moore recently wrote a skit about an annoying roommate whose insistence on having two ferrets created complications and chaos - as well as comedy - in their relationship.
"Most of our content is fairly tame," said Dan Buckler, a senior history major from Poland, Ohio, and the coordinator of the program house. "I would say it would be rated PG-13. The language only gets bad if the bit starts to fail."
Moore and Buckler joined the Gallows program house because of the relatively quiet environment and the absence of the negative byproducts associated with alcohol, drug, and tobacco use.
Moore, Buckler and the other eight students in the Gallows are careful not to preach to their fellow students, but they are more than happy to share their thoughts on the subject and to provide an alternative for students who want a chem-free environment. "We're not pushing a lifestyle on them, but we are giving them a place to hang out," said Moore. "We want them to know that there are people just like them on campus," added Buckler.
Sponsored by Wooster's Wellness Center, the Gallows follows a strict set of rules regarding the use of these substances, particularly in the program house, but they're not afraid to share a drink with other students on Wednesday nights - provided that the beverage comes from a cow. One of the highlights of the Gallows productions are free milkshakes in four flavors - chocolate, vanilla,
strawberry, and cookies & cream - which are served at every show.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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