Brandy Sullivan loves her job. You can sense it in her voice when she talks about the Theatre 99 Improv Jam. True to its improv roots, the roster of six or seven performers is never set in stone — it's more of an ensemble than a traditional show. Sullivan says the fast-paced act is like a reunion every time, with old company members who have since moved on often returning to the Theatre 99 stage.
Brandy and co-jammer Greg Tavares have been doing improv for 16 years in Charleston. For Brandy, her love of improv comedy lies in the fact that no two days on the job are the same. "It's not like a scripted show," she says. "And every single show is different." She notes that she isn't a golfer, but compares her search for the perfect scene to a golfer's pursuit of a hole-in-one. "We're constantly making new discoveries out of nothing."
For Lee Lewis, improv is more than just a way to get laughs. A psychiatrist by trade, Lewis makes up one-half of Moral Fixation, with the other half being his partner and best friend, Greg Tavares. The duo has been together since 2004, though their relationship off-stage expands far beyond that. "We have a long creative history together," Lewis says, explaining how he and Tavares have written, directed, and acted in a number of theatrical pieces together.
For Lewis, his favorite aspect of Moral Fixation has been the process of creating something in the moment. "We're not just creating a show or a performance, but creating something that has emotional depth — something that has elements of truth in it." Though the group's performance starts off like many others — with a single word from the audience — Lewis provides a unique sort of forewarning before getting into character. "I always say that some of the scenes you're going to see are going to be funny, some of them may be serious, and some of them are going to be downright weird," Lewis explains. "But hopefully by the end of the show, all of the scenes will mean more as a whole than each individual scene does by itself."
Over the years, Moral Fixation has seen a lot of different formats, but Lewis and Tavares have always been at the heart of the group. Being close friends, their chemistry started off as being very natural. With time, though, Lewis says that their knowledge of each other's habits and performance styles has definitely sharpened. "Certainly something has grown that makes the show a little bit different than the other shows."