Q&A with Eva Lewis
Eva got her start as an improviser at Second City in Chicago. Now she performs with the ensemble King Bee and teaches with WIT in between helping the residents of Ward 2 as a liaison to the mayor’s office. “I use improv all the time,” she says. “Every interaction with a resident is an exercise in listening and reacting.” Read on for more about how she caught the improv bug, the teacher who helped her get her improv groove back, and what it’s like performing in an all-female ensemble.
You work for the mayor. Tell us what you do! Do you ever get a chance to use improv on the job?
I am the Ward 2 Liaison for the Mayor’s Office for Community Relations and Services. The majority of my work is constituent services. I take issues from residents and help get them resolved with the appropriate DC agency. I also organize and support events throughout the city. And yes, I use improv all the time. Every interaction with a resident is an exercise in listening and reacting.
How did you start working in politics?
I left Chicago in 2011 and moved back to the DC area. The 2012 presidential election was heating up and I started volunteering with the Obama campaign. Eventually, I got a job with the campaign. That was the start of my involvement with politics.
Tell us about the improv you did in Chicago. What theaters were you involved with? Did you have a favorite teacher?
I started my improv life at Second City in Chicago. I fell in love and kept going. Next, I took two levels at iO Chicago. My favorite teacher was Jay Sukow. When I got to Jay’s class, I had three improv classes under my belt. Improv was losing the new car smell. It was more work than fun. Jay made improv fun again for me. He got us out of our heads and into the moment of the scene, listening and finding the fun. My scene work got better and I found the joy.
Did you do theater or comedy growing up? What inspired you to take your very first improv class…and what inspired you to keep coming back for more?
I didn’t do any theater or comedy growing up. I was a silly kid, but I was also shy. My law school classmate, Michael Gomez, told me he was going to take an improv class while studying for the bar. I told him if he did it, then I’d do it, as well. He signed up a few days before the class, and the rest is history. The level A class at Second City was soooooo much fun that I wanted more and more and more. I went to shows. I read articles and books. I jammed. I jammed real hard.
You’re part of The October Issue, a show that spoofed women’s magazines. Was this your first time in an all-female ensemble? How did the experience compare to being in a co-ed group or show?
I have had the fortunate opportunity to be on two FIST teams that were all women: Getting to Third Base and Sister Act (editor’s note: FIST is WIT’s annual Fighting Improv Smackdown Tournament, a bracketed tournament in which teams of improvisers fight their way up the brackets toward championship glory). I had a sweet time on those teams and with October Issue. There is not a big difference, but I do feel it is easier to be more vulnerable with an all-women’s ensemble. For the most part there are some baseline experiences as women that make it easier to get on the same page to find the humor of those experiences. Or the difference is we get to make fun of dudes and grab our private areas just like all dudes do on a regular basis.
How would you describe the WIT community?
Smart. Good. Growing. Accepting. Beautiful. Kind.
What’s the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
Watching an improviser who was on her knees playing a character with no legs below the kneecaps. The character begins to dance in order to win a talent show so she does not get kicked out of her family. I was crying with laughter as the improviser danced and rolled on the floor. It tickled me to high heaven.
If you want to get tickled to high heaven seeing hilarious performers like Eva, come see a show! Check our calendar for the latest listings.
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