COURTESY THE SECOND CITY
Charles Pettitt (far right) performs with The Second City Improv All-stars.
After graduating from high school, Shreveport native Charles Pettitt thought pursuing a degree in chemical engineering at Georgia Tech was his destiny, but he settled on a less serious track.
“I took my first improv class in 2009 in Atlanta, when I was at Georgia Institute of Technology,” Pettitt says. “I took the class at the Whole World Improv Theatre. I got bit by the improv bug and I realized when I got offered an apprentice position in that theater that this art and way of life might be something for me. I immediately searched on the internet and found Second City. I booked a one-way ticket from Atlanta and saw my first Second City show in 2011 and I was blown away. It was so different from the things I’d seen at the Groundlings in L.A. and Upright Citizens Brigade theater in New York.”
Pettitt eventually joined The Second City, a mecca for sketch and improvisation comedy, which has helped develop comedic geniuses such as Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Stephen Colbert. Pettitt is part of The Second City Improv All-stars troupe, which performs at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Boomtown New Orleans.
“I took my first class in 2011, and I was hired in 2013 and that was when I toured for four and a half months aboard the Norwegian Gem cruiseline ship with Second City and I was hired as an understudy with another touring company in 2014," Pettitt says. "I was hired full-time with this touring company in 2015. I’m coming up on my one year as a full-time member of The Second City National Touring Company."
There is no turning back for Pettitt.
“We’ve toured all over the country doing improv shows and sketch shows and combos of both," Pettitt says. "This year alone I’ve gotten to dip my toes into the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina and then a few months later I was dipping my toes in the Pacific Ocean in California. I get to travel around with five or six funniest people I’ve ever met in my life and it’s a dream come true."
The Second City Improv All-stars features six improvisers who play short form improv games, similar to those on the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway?
“Improv is special to the Second City,” says producer Joe Ruffner. “A lot of what we write comes out of the play that we do in our improv game, where it’s bit of an exercise for us and something that we do at the end of most of our shows. This is us putting it up in front of an audience and trying, failing or succeeding based on audience suggestion in a relatively protected way.”
The show includes impromptu comedy routines moderated by the members of The Second City. Some of the bits feature audience participation in the form of interviews and suggestions.
“The duty of improv is, you get to know the cast that you’re seeing, a lot of our style of improv is based on really being honest," Ruffner says, "and taking what you’re experiencing in that moment and turning that into a scene and letting the laughs come out of the reality of the situation."
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