Alex Fox and Rachel Lewis kindly shed their aliases of “Jon” and “Eddie” to give FrISC a special peek inside their comedic world.“Since we are such great friends, and spend so much time together, we often find ourselves moving about the stage, in unison, when we are not even looking at one another. It is pretty cool.” – Fox & Lewis
The two ladies of The Jon and Eddie Show, an improv and sketch team, have been in sync since before they ever met. Both grew up in tight-knit families, where comedy was a favorite pastime. They met backstage on opening night at Second City Chicago, where their shows shared the same bill, and it was comedy at first sight. The two have been inseparable, working together ever since and moved to Los Angeles in 2008.
Following this move, Fox and Lewis have performed their original sketch show on the Comedy Central Stage, were selected as MSN.com's Top 100 Things to See in LA, as well as BUST Magazine's Funniest Ladies in Los Angeles. Most recently, The Jon and Eddie Show performed at Boston’s Women in Comedy Festival this past March.
FrISC: Growing up, how did each of you get drawn into the world of comedy?
Fox: I took kid’s comedy classes, starting in 3rd grade. My grandfather, Zaz, is quite a character, and was always telling old Catskills jokes, even today. [Fox and her family always watched] Saturday Night Live, old Woody Allen movies, and Mel Brooks’ movies.
Lewis: For as long as I can remember, I just loved to laugh. I would do or see anything that would make me laugh. I believe comedy was just always in me, and my family. I grew up in a house filled with jokes, and old Jewish humor. I too, was forced to watch every Woody Allen film, and grew to LOVE them.
FrISC: Is there any special significance behind your team's name? How did you decide on "Jon" and "Eddie"?
Fox & Lewis: We had just become friends in Chicago, and were on our way to NYC to perform in an improv festival. We were still quite new friends, so this was either going to be the beginning of an awesome friendship or a horrible four days. So, on the plane ride to New York, we were getting to know each other by asking questions about ourselves, one of which happened to be, "What is your Dad's name?" It turned out that Alex's Dad is named Jon, and Rachel's Dad is named Ed. Cut to the next morning. After a night on the town, we were staying in Alex's Aunt's apartment on the Upper East Side. As Rachel awoke she turned to Alex and said, "Morning Jon," and Alex turned back and said, "Morning Eddie." Boom! Magic! Something crazy just happened! And thus Jon and Eddie were born! As a result we rarely call each other by our real names.
FrISC: How would you say that the improv scene in Los Angeles compares to where you started out in Chicago?
One difference is, in Chicago, it is one big community, and everyone knows each other. However in LA, it seems to be divided among the theaters. Also, in LA, it seems that a lot of work is geared more towards the industry and what is happening right now, whereas in Chicago you tend to see a bit more of the "artsy" side of it. The two cities show the best of both worlds.
FrISC: What do you like most about each city?
Chicago is vibrant, gritty, and has a wonderful sense of community. It is a magical city that is affordable, but filled with amazing culture and food! LA is sunny and has mountains and ocean (the perfect combo). It is a city that makes you want to take care of yourself, eat organic food, and you get to see people's dreams come true.
FrISC: What are the best things about working with each other? How do they translate to your performances?
Fox: I completely trust [Lewis], and love the ideas and places her imagination takes us, plus I think she is hilarious; also, she tends to ground our scenes in a way that I would never think to. Offstage, she types much faster than I do and is, I truly feel, the only person I can see working with in this capacity. She is organized, silly, and ridiculous, plus we both love to eat! And her eye make-up always looks really good. Lewis: I never have to worry about where or what I am doing, because she is there doing something even more fun and crazy right next to me. Alex challenges me to be fearless every time we step onstage! Offstage, she is a true friend, and always has my well-being at heart. It is friendship first, business meeting next, and then we eat. Oh, and she is a great chef! FrISC: What's the most important thing you've learned while pursuing your career and do you have any advice for aspiring improv performers?
Fox & Lewis: Be patient, and do what you want to do, not what others [say] you should be doing. LISTEN! Really listen, and honestly react. Keep with it, see shows, and have fun.