by Jessica Dartt Daily Trojan (U. Southern California)
(U-WIRE) LOS ANGELES - "Gimme your best shot. Come on. I'm ready," said John Dardenne, a freshman broadcast journalism major, looking ready for anything. Eager and excited Dardenne performs impressions all over the place, whether or not he had an audience. Dardenne is one of the newer members - along with Jacquie Gabardy, Eddie Quintana and Jacob Reed - of Second Nature, USC's newest improvisational comedy troupe. Second Nature was founded in November 2002 and began to perform for the student body in April 2003. While still fairly young, the troupe has all the energy that goes along with youth, as well as the idealism. "I have this very happy-family, utopian idea of improv that a lot of people kind of roll their eyes at. But I think that that's what it's all about," said Nick Daze, director and founder of Second Nature, of his group's already close ties. Fellow troupe member Jaimey Wiener, a communication major, agreed, saying the group "works really well, because we're not all the same. Things that I wouldn't think of, Dave Crabtree would think of, because we're completely different in our styles. I think we've got a really good dynamic."All are welcome and encouraged to come see that dynamic in action, said Daze, a sophomore and double major in English and theatre. Second Nature performs at 10:30 p.m. every Friday night at Ground Zero, a student-run coffeehouse on campus. "Ground Zero has very graciously taken us under their wing; has made us their resident improv group, so to speak," Daze said, emphasizing the fact that Commedus Interruptus, another student improv group at USC, still performs at Ground Zero occasionally, but "just like Commedus has the lawn [in front of Bovard], this venue was much more open to us." Make no mistake, though; the two USC improv troupes are far from rivals. "There's this great unspoken affiliation with Commedus in that, literally, half of Second Nature is good friends with half of Commedus Interruptus," Daze said. "Even our new kids are literally best friends with the Commedus newbies. They're all planning on living together next school year."There's a lot of crossover," he continued "And because of that friendship, we have worked together in the past and plan on doing more in the future."The friendships within Daze's own group, however, are what most come into play during performances, "especially since the new kids came on board," Wiener enthused. "Getting the new kids kind of kicked our butts to get in gear. They really solidified us as an actual group and an actual presence on campus." because suddenly we were like, 'Hey, here's all these kids actually coming to try out for us!' They've really transformed the group."