Front Porch Improv is bringing in the holidays the best way they know how—with lots of laughs. Their new comedy experience, “Totally Made-Up Holiday Movie,” will feature special guests, husband and wife Kevin Gillese and Amber Nash on Dec. 7 and 8.
“Front Porch Improv are lovely people, and they're very funny and very good at improv, which always helps us want to go back to a place. Their audiences are great, and it's just fun to be there,” said Nash.
Nash is a Georgia native who is an actress, voiceover star, improviser, and comedian. Nash is recognized for her voice work as Pam Poovey on the critically acclaimed and hit animated series Archer (FX/FXX).
Nash and Gillese connected with the group at Front Porch Improv years ago, around 2017, after working on a show at Theatre 99, an Improv Comedy Theater in Charleston. Since then, the couple has performed numerous times in Savannah.
“We just love the city very much. It's beautiful and historic, and it's just such a great place to get away to. We always love coming to Savannah for the city itself, but now that we've got our wonderful friends at Front Porch Improv doing such cool projects, we're always collaborating with them,” said Gillese, a writer, improviser, and producer.
This collaboration for the holidays will be a jolly ole’ time that will have you feeling extra Santa-mental. Using improvised games, songs, and audience ideas, this show is merrily swarming with your Christmas favorites including Santa, presents, and Die Hard (which is a Christmas movie to some).
“On December 7, Amber and I are going to be doing our two-person show called "Y'all Mark," which is a loving parody tribute to Hallmark movies. Amber and I are a real-life married couple, but we're doing an improv version. Kind of skewering, but kind of paying homage to the kind of romantic Christmas Hallmark movies that everyone's familiar with,” said Gillese.
There will be no resting Grinch face in the house as audience members make suggestions, and the cast will perform a totally made-up, live holiday movie that has never been performed before and will never be performed again.
“In every show, no matter what kind of show it is, we always ask the audience for suggestions. We'll ask them for suggestions for the name of the lead character or their profession. Or any number of things,” said Gillese.
Gillese and Nash are both looking forward to what surprises are in store since they know they are participating but are not aware of everything that will take place during the show as everyone collaborates in making it come to life. The couple are veterans at performing and have learned a lot from each other over the years working together, and they are up for the challenge.
“There were some growing pains, and I think we learned how to communicate with each other, where our strengths were, and when to give and when to stand your ground. It is quite rewarding because there are so many couples that don't have this same experience. Oftentimes we get to be together because our work is taking us places, and we get to do it with each other,” said Nash.
In addition to performing, this couple has a full December ahead. After a 14-year run, the series Nash stars in “Archer” will conclude with a special finale event, “Archer: Into the Cold,” which will air on Dec. 17.
“Archer changed my life. I was an improviser in Atlanta, and then I got on this show, and I was so incredibly lucky to first get it and then to stay on for so many seasons. In the beginning, as soon as I would get my script, I'd read it immediately to see if they killed me at the end of the episode,” said Nash. “I think we would all do it forever if they gave us the opportunity, because we really do love each other. It’s sad, but we had an incredible run.”
This holiday season, the couple can be seen showcasing their talents in their film “How to Ruin the Holiday.” Nash plays Michelle, a struggling comedian who is lured home for the holidays. While her sister Andrea (Kate Lambert) claims it’s an emergency, their doomsday-prepping dad (Colin Mochrie) and freewheeling brother Mark aren’t so sure. As they prepare for a final Christmas together in their family home, Michelle works to redefine her relationships with her father and siblings.
The production was filmed in Atlanta and was written and produced by Gillese. It recently won the Rome International Film Festival Narrative Features Special Jury Ensemble Award and is being distributed by Buffalo 8. The all-star cast also includes Aisha Tyler, Henry Zebrowski, Kate Lambert, Ronny Chieng, and special needs actor Luke Davis. It was directed by Arlen Konopaki and is streaming now on Amazon and other platforms.
“I've been lucky enough to work with Amber for many years, and we've been doing all kinds of different things, touring improv shows, making short films and web series, and different projects. In a lot of ways, this film is the culmination of all of this. I'll say that being able to work with the person that you love and are married to is like a rare joy and privilege,” said Gillese.
From their work at Dad’s Garage, a comedy improv theater they are involved with in Atlanta, or when at Front Porch Improv in Savannah, at the heart of what they do is keeping improv and the creativity of it alive.
“I think improv is so important as a part of the cultural mosaic that makes up any local arts and theater scene because of its immediacy. If something happened that day in the news or in pop culture or in the world or locally, something that's important to talk about, if it happened that day, you could go to an improv theater that night and it can be woven into what's happening,” said Gillese.
“For me, the thing that first kind of made me fall in love with improv is that I saw a show, and the players in the improv show were items that were stuck in the bottom of a trash can after the trash had been emptied. It blew my mind because anything's possible. Anything we could dream up, we can make happen on stage, especially when first seeing improv shows. It's exciting,” said Nash.
To find tickets for the shows on Thursday, Dec. 7 and Friday, Dec. 8, visit frontporchimprov.com