Last week, I sat down with actor/comedian Amadeo Fusca to discuss his latest project. Fusca stars in the one-man show, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Live, currently playing at the Greer Cabaret theater. We sat down backstage to discuss the show, how this Pittsburgh boy made it to New York City, Dennis Rodman, and more. Enjoy!
AF: You on?
26: Yeah, we’re good.
The show is based off the original book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus”. We’ve been all over the country with it so people are identifying with it and having fun. It’s very “what you see is what you get” Men. Women. Relationships. I freshen it up with references here and there and I try to do different things within the script which they allow me to do.
Yeah, it’s pretty flexible ‘cause you’re an improv guy.
Yeah. From day one they want you to personalize their script. They’re like, “listen these are the stories and vignettes and points we want you to hit but feel free to change our joke with your joke” because they trust me with the show. They know that I want it to be a great show too. And it always needs refreshed because it is based off the theories of the book and a lot of the audience usually is of that generation. And at first it was tougher to reach a younger [generation], and slowly but surely I’ve been able to put in things that hit you by surprise where you’re like “oh my God that’s pretty funny” and “I do get what he’s saying”. A lot of people [will say] it’s pretty general and stereotypical but that doesn’t mean it’s not true and it can’t be a fun show.
We haven’t changed that much.
Once people come see it they’re like ‘that was actually really fun and this dude is actually doing a lot of work to help freshen it up and make all these general stereotypes come to life in a more comedic, theatrical way.’
Absolutely. So what was the audition process like? Did someone see you at a show or something or did you go in as normal?
They had auditions in New York. I work with an agency out there that got me the audition. It was a pretty crazy audition. They would give you four or five pages and that’s a lot. Four or five pages of straight dialogue. It was really cool and looking at the script I could tell it was loose. I can already tell that I can play with this. So I went in off-book (memorized) with the pages. I had all kinds of stuff that was not in the script. Part of the script but [with] my own jokes [that] I added on top of the script. And it went really well. I didn’t really sweat. They were laughing. They called me back.
[At the final callback] They rented out a little theater and brought 15-20 people to be a “fake” audience. And they gave you the first 9-10 pages of the show. So this was an 18 minute callback. So I came with that off-book as well. I infused so many things on top of it and it went really well. The director really liked me and the producer came in and he liked me as well. At first they were a little worried that I might be too young. I wasn’t exactly what this guy was. When they actually liked me I thought ‘oh my God I think I really might get this’. And I put so much work in, you know? It wasn’t like I was getting lucky. I was working my ass off figuring out how to bring it to life.
So they actually went with another guy, who is amazing. He was fitting that mold. But they were like “we wanna keep you in mind for the future”. And I was kinda bummed but I kept emailing the director like ‘hey thanks for the opportunity’. I invited her to my UCB (Upright Citizens Brigade) shows. And then she called me out of the blue like “hey, we actually want to hire you, too. But you’re first show is going to be in 18 days in Newark”. Huge theater. Four shows. 450-seat theater; it was packed.
With what I’ve been working towards in New York, I always consider myself an actor first.[The show] is kind of like a stand-up comedy show with a theme in a way, but there’s a lot more to it. There’s a lot of improv [and] quick little characters you’re playing. It’s an amalgamation of everything that I’ve kind of been dabbling in.
And that’s what I wanted to touch on. You know, I went to Point Park, also. You start school with a certain idea of the actor you wanna be. And now people are doing web series’, people are directing, people are producing. It’s a mixed bag and you kind of have to do a little of everything.
You have to expand. That’s what’s great about New York. It’s all there and it’s all happening. There’s no reason for you not to be expanding. And I tell people all the time “listen, I know we all came here as serious actors or serious singers and we all want that. But there’s no reason that you shouldn’t go to an open mic and try your character out. Try your song out. Why not just jump into [stand-up]. Just to see how it feels”.
Right now I’m trying to develop my own show that comes from me a little bit more. When you get out there you realize you’re eventually gonna have to create your own stuff anyways.
That’s what I’m trying to do with this blog, man!
Exactly! That’s just how the world works. But you’re gonna be better off for it anyways. Because you’ve gotta put the hard work into it. Some people do get lucky with minimal effort, but most people are putting in really hard work.
Yeah. So to touch back, my blog series is called Yinzerviews. And you’re my first guest! You’re a hometown boy, tell us about that.
I grew up in Churchill. Went to Woodland Hills High School. I had a lot of family in LA so I would go out to acting schools here and there. I took a year off of school before college [to go out there]. And then I finally auditioned for Point Park, got in. I commuted from home. I had some good years. I played Romeo in Romeo and Juliet [directed by Penny Lindblom]. I did a Rep show (The REP professional theatre company at the Point Park Playhouse) right after. And I’ve been living in New York for eight years. Here and there I’ve been jumping back to LA for stuff. Not as much as I probably should’ve been. Lately I’ve been going more.
I mean, you have some major credits already. [Netflix’s] Daredevil, [HBO’s] Boardwalk Empire…
I could’ve had 10, 15, 30 more. You know, you get super close and you’re on hold for a lot of things. You’re like ‘this makes sense’ then you don’t get it and you’re like–
And then you think like, all right at least they’ll remember me. Maybe they do, a year or two years later, but it’s tough. There’s a thousand people like me who are creating things that could get them on Saturday Night Live or get them a great pitch at Comedy Central.
To get their own show like Abbi [Jacobson] and Ilana [Glazer] with Broad City.
Exactly. People aren’t just waiting around for scripts to be given to them. I’ve been writing a lot more but I love to collaborate with people. This [show] is the ideal scenario. Give me your script and let me collaborate with you. That’s what’s great about UCB. I’ve been on a sketch comedy team there for four years.
Do you write regularly with them?
So it’s set up like a mini Saturday Night Live. We put on a 30-minute show every month. Six writers on a team. Six actors. You get a director that month. And then you have a pitch meeting at the beginning of the month. Everybody pitches ideas and characters and stuff. Then you have 3 writer meetings and 3 actor rehearsals. Then tech, and you do a show. It’s kind of like what Saturday Night Live does in a week. We do it in a month. I’ve worked with writers who write for Saturday Night Live right now. This is the legit place where everybody is rising. You get a lot of great auditions just from being on teams there and you get a lot of recognition just from telling people you’re on a team there in New York.
So, I did get a chance to watch your Dennis Rodman roast. That was incredible. Can you tell me a little bit more about that and the Friar’s Club?
They had this roast competition. I saw the breakdown on Backstage [.com]. [My brothers and I] grew up loving the roasts. Did I ever think I would have a chance to get into that world? No! I submitted. They started with an audition with 55 actors and you just pick somebody and act like they’re there and roast them for 2 minutes. I picked Owen Wilson. And I had an audition for Boardwalk Empire that same day. I almost cancelled my Friar’s Club roast audition. I ended up pushing it an hour and they still took me. It was actually perfect because I was in my three-piece [suit] and when I walked into the Friar’s Club I looked like I fit. I don’t know if I would’ve dressed like that if I wasn’t coming straight from the Boardwalk Empire audition, but it ended up helping me so much.
[At the audition] I was doing crazy stuff that no one else was doing. I was using my actor training on top of the stand-up.
I mean, your entrance [to the roast] was amazing.
I gotta say, both things I did at these roasts, my brothers were kind of talking me into it. I was kind of scared. They said to go out there and do the Kim Jung Un bit. [Rodman] had just come back from North Korea. The night before, I’m preparing like a mad man and my brother comes in with his buddy who drags him to the strip club. And it happened to be eight blocks away from my place. They were like “dude. Dennis Rodman is here, you’ve gotta come”. So I introduced myself and he just kept saying “say whatever you want!”
If I wouldn’t have had that, there’s no way my performance would have been anything close to [what it was]. I was like this charming asshole. You have to say these horrible things in a cleverly constructed, comedic way. Then at the end you have to come back with the nicest thing in the world you could say about this person.
It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever done and will do. And I got to do the Jack Black roast after that.
And those roast videos helped me get this job. This gig has been awesome. Coming to Pittsburgh for this long has been super cool. And them making a big deal about me coming has been cool. When I do the show on the road they don’t have my picture everywhere with it.
You are everywhere. I think you were on my T (light rail train) on the way here.
That is so funny. I was on the T! I’ve been doing this show for a while and it’s been time for me to create my own thing using the exact skill set that I’ve developed with this show.
To end, do you have any advice? I ran into some freshmen the other day and I gave them some advice. What would you tell those kids?
I always say, as long as you’re good and getting better, no one can ever take that away from you. Whether you pop at 22 or 32 or 42, you still have to continue to prove yourself in that next role. You’ve gotta stay good and fresh. Make sure you’re getting better. You can’t let it get you down that you didn’t get that big audition you thought was gonna change things. It would’ve changed things but for a temporary time. And if you don’t consider yourself comedic, all the more reason to try a stand up set or do improv or try a character set. Do stuff that scares you. That’s what it’s all about. And rehearse your ass off!
Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Live! runs at the Greer Cabaret Theater through October 14th. Get your tickets here. And click here to watch Amadeo’s roast of Dennis Rodman at the Friar’s Club.