Savannah's Front Porch Improv got their start at Theatre 99 

Setting the Scene

click to enlarge front_porch_improv_ensemble.jpg

John R. Brennan, co-founder of Front Porch Improv in Savannah, Ga. describes himself as "a homegrown product of Theatre 99." When his parents moved to James Island in 2002, the then-21-year-old Brennan began to take classes, and he was instantly hooked.

"I moved to Chicago, moved to New York, moved back to Charleston all off and on, kind of circular in my whole 20s," Brennan says.

When he and his wife, Dolly, moved to Savannah four years ago, the couple connected with husband and wife Daniel Gilbert and Brianne Halverson through an improv meet-up group. At the time, the improv scene in Savannah was essentially nonexistent, and the four decided to fill the gap.

"Basically, we said when we met Bri and Dan, we said, 'Let's start a band, you know, a comedy band that's fun. It's something we're missing. We like doing it,'" Brennan says. "And then it just kept going, and we kept growing an audience."

Brennan says his past experience at Theatre 99 provided "a template" for Front Porch Improv, which began performing monthly shows in 2016. Last year, the company, which now has more than a dozen members, rolled out weekly shows on Saturday nights.

Eight of Front Porch's performers — including Brennan, Gilbert, and Halverson — will be in town for their Comedy Fest performance.

Brennan describes the group's comedic style as "theatrical."

"We absolutely love long form ... and situational," he says. "We usually say comedic play, like a lot of other improv groups can do, but that is absolutely something where you see us as an ensemble piece. [It's an] improvised comedic play."

For the Charleston Comedy Festival, Brennan says Front Porch Improv will use "scene-painting style."

"We're going to take the first couple of scenes, and we're actually going to go ahead and paint the world for them," he says. "Where it's like, 'I see a desk right here. I see a stack of comic books right there, Spider-Man comic books. And on the wall is a Ghostbusters 2 poster.' And then after we've done scene-painting, two improvisers will come out and be in that scene." —Emily Pietras

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