How did Secret City Comics Society decide to perform in Fullerton?
Many improv groups start in shared locations like restaurants and coffee shops. While looking for rehearsal space, we stumbled upon the Stage One Dance Studio (141 W Wilshire, #A) and they offered to rent out their space to us on the weekend. It soon became a win-win situation. The dance studio could rent out their space when they were not using it and we could perform in a location that would be dedicated to our show.
Alan Ng (me) and Bryan Shigekawa were looking in North Orange County for possible locations. We ultimately chose Downtown Fullerton because of the nighttime activity on Fridays and Saturdays. When we worked with the city and Chamber of Commerce, they were all excited about a new clean comedy show opening in Fullerton.
Secret City emphasizes clean humor in its material. Do you feel that other improv shows don't meet this demand?
For the past 9 years, I (Alan Ng) has been performing at the National Comedy Theater in San Diego. The show is a clean show. After 9 years of traveling from Yorba Linda to San Diego every weekend, the commute became too long and too expensive.
When Bryan and I decided to open a comedy show, there was no clean show in north Orange County that performed on a weekly bases. We saw this as an opportunity. Clean shows sometimes are perceived as a children’s show. Our show is far from a children’s show. We address many adult topics, but we do not need to resort to uttering obscenities on stage.
From a business standpoint, doing a clean show allows us to reach a broader audience. Our shows currently attract all ages from 8 to 88. By doing a clean show, our audience can invite friends and family without worrying about seeing or hearing something that would make them uncomfortable.
If people are interested in doing Improv they need to be trained, right? How much are classes, and what do they learn?
Yes, that’s true. We offer three levels of improv workshops beginning in September. The workshops are $200 for 6 classes each. In Level 1 we teach foundations of improv. Level 2 consists of learning advanced scene work and character development and Level 3 is about showmanship and ends with a performance for friends.
Secret City also has a night when Stand Up Comedy is performed. Can you tell me more about that? Is it like an open mic, or do people have to audition in order to perform?
At this point we are focusing on developing the Improv show and we do not have plans to produce a stand-up show, while we are at the dance studio location.
Alan Ng is the creative director of Secret City Comics Society, but who are some other key players that helped to bring this to Fullerton?
Bryan Shigekawa is the general manager of Secret City Comics Society. He is responsible for running the theater every week.
Who inspired you to perform improv initially? Did you always want to perform comedy? Did it take time to develop?
In high school, I was considered to be a smart-aleck. I was always coming up with funny remarks and comments in social situations. At first, this was funny but soon everyone found it to be annoying.
While in graduate school, I stumbled across the British-version of “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” and I thought I could do that. I went to a ComedySportz show in Los Angeles. For the next 6 years, I took classes with ComedySportz and South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa.
I found that the greatest enjoyment that I had in life was being funny in public. It took a few years to realize that doing improv was more than just saying funny things on stage, but it was actually about working with a team of fellow actors and telling a story on stage together. Comedy came out of exploring human relationships on stage. Like stand-up comedy, you’re trying to connect with the audience by portraying situations, that they have experienced, on stage and bringing it to its comedic conclusions.
Has SCCS been done in other cities? What are the current challenges that SCCS faces as a new business?
Our Fullerton theatre is our only location at the moment. Our dream is to move into a proper theater in the future and open another location in south Orange County.
Our biggest challenge is developing a fan base. First, our audience has to know we exist. Then we have to get them to come to the show. Finally, we have to produce a show good enough that will convince them to come back and bring their friends with them.