A full ‘Circle’ moment: QU Alumnus John Franklin returns for a night of laughter

Aidan Sheedy, Copy Editor

As he emerged from behind the curtain Thursday, the crowd in the Clarice L. Buckman Theater erupted as Quinnipiac University alumnus John Franklin smiled from ear-to-ear, ready to tell stories of drunken mischief, awkward sexual encounters, catfishing moms and the secrets of his time on Netflix’s “The Circle.”

The Student Programming Board’s comedy night was full of laughter as Franklin came out with contagious energy, with the theater containing over 100 students eagerly awaiting his appearance.

“I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life,” Franklin said after the show. “This is the coolest thing ever. I got to do a standup special at my college.”

He was smooth and utterly hilarious. However, Franklin’s first words on stage weren’t even jokes. He began the night just repeating the words “wow” and “this is awesome.”

“I was never really nervous,” he said. “But looking out and (seeing) everyone enjoying it, it just made me feel I’m right where I should be.”

Franklin had the audience in the palm of his hand the entire time. So, he let loose on some crazy stories about his time at Quinnipiac.

Many were on the edge of their seats for every tale of shenanigans, wild nights and unthinkable circumstances. But he had yet to address the elephant in the room—Franklin had just recently come off the set of the competitive reality show “The Circle.”

The show features competitive elements using social media. The production is similar to that of “Catfish: The TV Show” or “Big Brother.” The show’s format follows players living in completely separate rooms of an apartment building where they are unable to leave or communicate with the outside world. Players are also unable to meet each other face-to-face but rather, strictly through a specialized social media platform.

Before Thursday, Franklin had never done more than 20 minutes of standup comedy. Franklin is a social media content creator and was recently hired by BetMGM as a member of their social media team. In the past, he tended to open for larger comedians in the Northeast region: one of which was his opener, 20-year comedic veteran Sharon Simon.

“She was the first person producing a show that gave me a shot,” he said. “And I wanted to repay her by having her open what would be the biggest night of my standup career so far.”

After Franklin began his routine, he asked the crowd a question: “Is anyone here from New Jersey?” Several hands shot up in the air, but the Hoboken native heard the bombastic voice of Samantha Shaw, a first-year 3+1 film, television and media arts major.

Shaw answered a series of questions to prove many New Jersey houses contain the same insignificant features, like a small refrigerator for the garage and emergency ice cream. The audience ate this up as Shaw became a part of the show.

“To talk to him directly is so awesome,” Shaw said. “When I tell my cousins back home, they’re gonna be screaming their heads off.”

There was a full-circle moment after the show when Franklin had the honor of drawing the winning number from the SPB raffle. After the first two numbers drawn had missing owners, the magic third number called was none other than Shaw.

“I thought to myself, if he says Samantha Shaw, I might cry,” she said. “Tonight was amazing. The best night of college so far.”

“The Circle” players can choose their own screen name, whether it is their true identity or not. Franklin, being the comedian that he is, decided to log on as his mother, Carol.

Unfortunately, Franklin could not keep up the lie for long, as he was eliminated and could not capture the $150,000 prize.

After the show was released, Franklin said he has been trying to get used to being recognized almost everywhere now, getting stopped on the street for photos and autographs.

“I’ll never get used to it,” Franklin said. “It happens literally every day … it’s something I’ll cherish forever.”

In attendance were Franklin’s parents and some of his closest friends from the show and even a few college friends.

“Ever since I’ve known John, he’s easily been one of the funniest people I’ve ever known,” said Luke Lograno, Quinnipiac Class of 2019. “Everything just comes so easily to him.”

The welcoming feeling of being back on campus was felt by both Franklin and Lograno.

“I’ve seen some of these bits, but to see him do it in front of all these people is just great,” Lograno said. “To see him having fun and you guys having fun is just incredible to see.”

Franklin never seemed to stop smiling and having fun on stage. After the show, he expressed that all the memories from Quinnipiac were coming back. The journalism graduate said although his plans after college have changed, he is happy where he is.

“I never thought I would be considered an entertainer,” he said. “But I also couldn’t imagine any other way of living.”

To Franklin, this is just the first stop on a long journey of a successful comedic career.

“I truly believe only good things are going to come out of this,” he said. “To know that things that I do matter to other people will always resonate with me.”