Second Nature Improv
Second Nature was founded on November 19, 2002. The troupe performs every Friday night at USC's Ground Zero Performance Cafe, providing free, comedic, one-hour shows. Second Nature regularly performs with other improv troupes from all over Los Angeles, and the United States. The collegiate troupe is known for the Fracas! Improv Festival, one of the largest intercollegiate improv comedy festivals in the world. Additionally, Second Nature pioneered The Facebook Show, an improvised comedy show based entirely on the Facebook profiles of audience volunteers.
Since its debut, Second Nature has become a regular part of campus life at USC, and has begun the careers of several comedians, actors, and directors.
Second Nature was founded in 2002 by a group of USC students interested in performing improvised comedy. The troupe is a recognized student organization within the University of Southern California. The group chose the name Second Nature based on the idea that performing spontaneous theatre should become "second nature" to the cast.
The style of Second Nature's comedy has changed with time, as the students have become more passionate and knowledgeable about improvisational theatre. Originally, Second Nature performed ComedySportz style shows, with the troupe split into two competing factions. After being influenced by The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and The Groundlings with whom the troupe had taken workshops, Second Nature adopted a more free flowing scenic style of improvisation. For the past few years, the troupe has been performing predominantly long-form improvisation, focusing on The Harold and The Armando, while occasionally performing other forms such as Text Message, The Town and The Bat.
Though Second Nature is fairly young, a number of professional performers began their careers with the troupe.
The Fracas! Improv Festival
The Fracas! Improv Festival, or Fracas!, is an improvisational theatre festival created and hosted by Second Nature, and held annually at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles since 2004.
Over the past few years, Fracas! has grown into a national festival with more than a dozen participating universities, as well as workshops and panels with professionals from The Upright Citizens Brigade, The Groundlings, The Office, Mad TV, ImprovOlympic and more. Beginning with its 4th year in 2007, the festival is sponsored by The Onion, a popular national humor newspaper.
The Facebook Show
Once a month, Second Nature performs Special Format Shows which contain either a special show format, or a special guest. As many special format shows are experimental, few receive a strong enough audience reaction to be performed multiple times. A notable exception is The Facebook Show.
The Facebook Show consists of three segments, roughly twenty minutes each. Each segment begins with an audience member voluteering to be interviewed by Second Nature. During the interview, the audience member logs on to their Facebook profile, which is projected on a screen, and explored in front of the live audience. Finally, Second Nature uses material from the volunteer's Facebook profile as the basis for their improvisation.
Second Nature's first Facebook Show was performed in 2005, when Facebook was open only to college students. However, since the social networking website has been opened up to the public, the show has become popular with a larger audience.
Influenced by Second Nature, other groups have begun performing the Facebook Show around the world, including at the University of California, Santa Barbara, by jericho! at the University of California, Berkeley, and in England by the Canterbury based troupe, Noise Next Door.
One of the many show formats Second Nature performs is The Armando. This format - developed at ImprovOlympic - involves a guest monologist (frequently a celebrity) who uses a suggestion from the audience to inspire a truthful, personal monologue. The improvisers then use the monologue as inspiration for a series of scenes, which in turn inspire a response from the monologist.
Second Nature has performed The Armando with the following guest monologists:
- Dan Oster, MADtv
- Kate Flannery, The Office
- Paul Wolff, screenwriter, Family Ties, Little House on the Prairie, Home Improvement ; executive story-editor, Remington Steele
- Tom Lennon, Reno 911!, The State
- Will Sasso, MADtv
- Midori, prominent human sexuality writer, speaker, and sex educator
- Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events
- Tommy Waas
- Sarah Khasrovi
- Kevin Changaris
- Gloria Matthews
- Sam Wagner
- Philip Labes
- Zach Dunn
- Fallon Boles
- Sabrina Brennan
- Commedus Interruptus
- Improvisational theatre
- List of improvisational theatre companies
- The Groundlings
- Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre
- Chicago Theatre
- Del Close
- Viola Spolin
- Second Nature website
- Official website of The Fracas! Improv Festival
- The Fracas! Podcast, audio and video interviews with professional improvisers
- List of Second Nature alumni