Amadeo Fusca returns on stage with Mars/Venus; talks Martian/Martian and Venutian/Venutian audiences experiences
Wed. February 12, 2020 by Matt Inawat
I just want everybody to have so much fun and I go home thinking about these things and just working on their relationship
We chatted with comedian and actor Amadeo Fusca, star of the hysterical, sexy and fast-paced show MEN ARE FROM MARS – WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS LIVE!
The Off-Broadway hit comedy is a one-man fusion of theatre and stand-up, and is a light-hearted theatrical comedy based on the New York Times #1 best-selling book of the last decade by John Gray. Moving swiftly through a series of vignettes, the show covers everything from dating and marriage to the bedroom. This show is playing at Broadway In Chicago's Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place (175 E. Chestnut) for a limited two-week engagement from February 11 – 23, 2020.
MI: (Matt Inawat) Hi Amadeo, how's the show going? Everyone has been saying great things about it!
AF: (Amadeo Fusca) I have been doing this show now for a while and it has been five years. This is the fourth or fifth time back in Chicago and there are enough people that like the show that they are able to go to multiple spots multiple times and keep the show running this long. So it's got an audience for sure and I do my best! The cool thing is that when they get an actor in there, we do our best to continue to freshen up the show and just keep it going for the audience. It continues to evolve, this show with the material within it, but the message still rings as true, but that is the fun part about how this show just continues to evolve within the material in the show the message stays the same.
MI: Let's talk a little bit about the show. So for those who haven't really seen the show or maybe haven't even read the book, what do audiences expect to see onstage?
AF: So, it's a one person show. I do the entire show. There are a couple of videos that play here and give me a break off of the stage to kind of um bring the point home a little bit of what we are talking about and actually it is kind of like a stand-up storytelling show with a theme and the theme is based off of the book "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus." You know what happens in relationships between the martian brain and the venutian brain so to speak. Men and women mostly within a relationship, but a lot of other people see themselves in a relationship. A lot of times we talk about two martians in a relationship or two venutians in the same relationship, so it is just how those different brains work and I go through a bunch of vignettes and stories of different things that happen in relationships.
I kind of take you on a a journey I think through my own experiences and I talk a lot about my own personal experiences; and you know kind of blow them out of the water and make them kind of cartoonish as well to make it more entertaining and fun to watch. I go through what happens on a typical date night or going back to an anniversary story that we had to share with everybody or I talk about the chores around the house and I can't figure out what she does. And then what we do in the bedroom and sex and how we both approach sex differently, how a martian approaches it vs. how a venutian approaches it. I tell stories about my life to bring the point home and I also kind of open up to the audience and the audience is kind of an extra character to the show. I go in and out of the audience to grab reactions throughout and by the second act the audience almost feels like they can, I don't encourage them to blurt things out but there is a lot of things that happen that I do a call and response and then I improvise off of what happens.
MI: So are there any particular messages or lines from the show that are just so off-the-top, like reactions from people, that you just love it as far as being the performer onstage?
AF: Yeah, I mean the main message is like as much as this all sucks, we love each other and we love going through it. It can be very stressful and as much as we butt heads we remember why we love going through it because we love each other in the first place and it is all easy fixes, but we can all just breathe and see the other one's point of view and that is, you know what I mean, I have done the show all over the country and really it is couples and it is really a date night show and I will get packs of women who will come when they are celebrating something, when they can't drag their husbands out to the theatre, but when husbands get dragged to the theatre I can't tell you how many couples I talk to after the show and they are just like so wow'd, they had so much fun and you see in the audience people holding hands, people getting closer. You are really bringing couples closer together with this show, I mean it's not rocket science.
We aren't talking about anything that is rocket science but it ends up being a really enjoyable, entertaining experience for mostly everybody involved and that's kind of where I am at with the show. I just want everybody to have so much fun and I go home thinking about these things and just working on their relationship, you know? Just having more fun and that conservative guy who needs to open up a little bit more in his relationship will hopefully go open up after a two comedy of me pretending to be him in certain stories.
MI: Have you seen any interesting reactions from LGBTQ audiences? Like martians/martians or venutians/venutians?
AF: I live in New York and so I have friends based all over and when I did my show in Newark I had a friend come who is in a martian/martian relationship and he loved watching me perform and he could connect to the show within his relationship; and he was the one who was like "you gotta do like a martian and martian story or you know a venutian and venutian story. You gotta like throw it in there a little bit more. I know it isn't like in the book, but I'm telling you man that will..."
Cause that has been a part of the show where I do have people, I do have all kinds of people come see the show and it doesn't matter what kind of relationship you are in. However, the book does pertain to men/women even though it is martian/venutian, men/women is in the title so it does lend itself more towards men/women. So I will say that sometimes I get an LGBT couple there, sitting there laughing and getting it and sometimes I see them sitting there like this does not pertain to me whatsoever. Honestly I do run into that sometimes and I try my best to make the show as fun as possible and not leave anybody out, but that is what we are kind of dealing with and I try to use the words martian and venutian brain as much as possible just to kind of allow people, because mostly people are looking at themselves and tapping each other "you do that, no you do that."
MI: Let's talk about you for a little bit. Your Twitter bio says you're a narcissist from Pittsburgh.
Amadeo Fusca in Men are from Mars Women are from Venus
AF: Yeah pretty much, aren't we all? All I do is post about myself, I mean come on. What am I really doing for the world?
MI: Where is home? How did you get involved in theatre, acting, stand-up?
AF: Yeah, that is the cool thing about New York I got to bob and weave through it all. I grew up with two older brothers. I grew up in a household where we watched comedy series. We watched everything and I was always watching stuff I probably shouldn't be watching with my two older brothers and my parents, you know, they knew I was obsessed with movies and stuff and they were all obsessed with movies, you know, the big dramas of the year. I was always exposed the big dramas of the year at a very early age.
You know the Academy Awards movies. I went and saw, like my dad would pick me up and we'd go see whatever movie I wanted to see that night after he got off work. I was the third kid so the censor wasn't really there as much. Like one example is my dad took me to see "Seven" in the movie theatre when I was like nine years old. So I don't know how many nine year olds saw "Seven" in the movie theatre, but it was my favorite movie and it still my favorite move to this day, one of them. So when I was thirteen I started to get onstage and actually do the shows. I was really into sports and I was kind of I thought I was too cool and I had this quirky, comedic personality. I was always getting in trouble in school. I was always in front of the class being the class clown and finally I channeled that energy into the theatre productions and then all of the teachers loved me and they were like "oh wow, this is what he should have been." So I did all of the shows, "Hello Dolly", "Anything Goes" and "Fabian and Oliver" and then I went to college for it in Pittsburgh. I went to the Park Conservatory for the Performing Arts. I studied for four years and then I jumped out to New York and I dabbled in LA cause I have a lot of family out there, but for the most part
New York has been my home for ten years and the great thing is once you get to New York you can bob and weave you know? They have the best theatre in the world here and it isn't just plays and musicals, it is stand-up comedy, it's improv comedy, it's sketch comedy, it's character comedy, you know? Actually tomorrow I have the Montreal Character Showcase which is basically like a mini "Saturday Night Live" set.
A lot of the "Saturday Night Live" people go to the Montreal Comedy Festival, but every year they hold callbacks for like 50 people in New York who like submitted or like quote/unquote the "cream of the crop" of the next generation of characters this year, so to speak, and this is my first year kind of getting into it. They also see some people in LA and they only take 12 people at the end of the day, but that is like another area of creating your own like "Saturday Night Live" set, you know, a two, three, four minute character, so that is what is so good about New York, I mean it almost hurts my head sometimes because I still haven't like settled on that path, so when this show came up I had some Friar's Club Roast success and I was studying a lot of improv and sketch so I kind of knew how to be a really good roaster from that and kind of bring my skillset of playing characters to that, but after that happened everyone thought I was a stand-up comic and I was like "no I don't really write stand-up material but I can deliver. I have stand-up experience because I have years and years of theatre experience." That is kind of what this show, this show is almost like a stand-up, it is a one-person amalgamation stand-up storytelling and sketch and whatever. It is kind of perfect for my skillset because throughout the years in New York I have been all around.
MI: As if theatre acting and stand-up weren't enough, you have also got some big billing and co-starred in quite a few shows like "Marvel's Daredevil", HBO's "Boardwalk Empire", "As The World Turns." I auditioned for that show over 20 years ago, I never got a callback so here I am. (laughs)
Amadeo Fusca in Men are from Mars Women are from Venus
AF: Yeah, that was one of those things right out of college they auditioned in Pittsburgh and I got like two scenes and four lines. Yeah that is the good thing about New York, too. New York has so much to audition for and I have had so many close calls for much bigger roles and I am still kind of like I am still getting these co-stars and I am fine and grateful for whatever comes up. I am not going anywhere, but there is a lot of amazing talent here in New York and I have worked with a lot of people.
MI: So do you have a favorite story from one of your co-star moments?
AF: You know it is funny cause these co-stars they are like family too and I almost want to make a comedy video because my Boardwalk is one line. I auditioned for "Boardwalk" many times and they would put me on hold for like these bigger roles and then they were like cut from the script and I was like man I am just so unlucky. The I finally got on and it was one line and it is like off camera and then back to me but not really a close up of me, like no one cares who said the line and then Daredevil was a few lines and I got shot in the face. I guess on Boardwalk, not really a funny story but Vincent Piazza who plays Lucky Luciano; he was really cool on set to talk to, but I don't really have any stories, nothing too crazy. Simple shit, you know, you get a trailer that feels good. You get to sleep in there the whole time waiting to get on. I will say no one really gives my character direction. They just don't care. They are just trying to get the shots and they aren't worried about the one-line guy.
MI: Speaking about onscreen appearances, our team did a Google stalking on you this week. Tell us about the movie "Fire Island." We found some trailers, a reference on IMDB and a gorgeous movie launch poster with like sexy people running on the beach but apparently you can't get the movie on streaming or even DVD anymore.
AF: Oh that's interesting. So "Fire Island" - a cool story about "Fire Island" as an actor in New York, backstage actors access if you want to submit yourself to independent projects that people are putting out, you know your agents will handle the bigger stuff but sometimes there are independent short films. Sometimes they will put commercials in there and people who are doing their own independent features and this lady was doing her own independent feature in Cleveland and she wanted to tell her life story.She held this backstage casting notice and I answered it and she was like I think you are great for the role of Max - this guy she had a fling with - and anyways she was like "alright, I liked your audition and will fly you to Cleveland."
She flew a bunch of us out and you know I had like three or four scenes. It was fine. It was one of these independent features, she did have a really good crew, I will say the quality of the film was fine and the story was kind of cool. There was a lot of dialogue. I think these first-time filmmakers sometimes don't cut enough of the dialogue out but the coolest thing was I met some of coolest people that I am still friends with in New York.
The sexy people you see running on the beach, you got Carly Brook Perlstein who is an unbelievable singer, like unbelievable singer, like Scruffy Pearls if you ever follow any of her music. Andy Peak, the tall dude who is like beyond sexy, one of the coolest, nicest dudes to hang out with. Every time I see that dude in New York we just hit it off and he came and saw my show when I did it in New Jersey recently. Then Kelly, who is the blond girl, who actually referred me to this one job that I have every year now, it is kind of this cool comedy-industrial series and I made really good friends with the writer and I just see her every year when we do that and anyways, that movie was a blessing in disguise cause you are in your late twenties and you are auditioning for whatever and you take it and she is paying us and putting us up and she was really nice and then you meet all of these cool actors and you are like crap these are people I am gonna like be cool with forever now. So we have had a couple of full-cast hangs since then in New York, so thanks for asking about "Fire Island".
MI: You've been to Chicago a few times on tour before. What is gonna be on your top three list of things to do while you are here on tour this time?
AF: So I was there the last time for three weeks and I loved it. You know I was trying, I went to ImprovOlympic to see some shows, I went to Second City and saw some shows and my cousin Benny flew out. He is like my other brother. My mom came out for a few days. I love, I have so many cousins all over the country, so I have some second cousins that live in Chicago and I hang with. One of them is like an aspiring writer and performer as well. He is a little older than me. We are gonna hang and probably go see, I will probably, honestly my schedule won't really allow me to see anything other than like improv and sketch shows that play past ten pm on the weekends at Second City and IO.
I could maybe go to Steppenwolf on Monday but other than that I'll just walk around and chill. When I do the show it takes so much energy so and I chug so much coffee during the show. I'm drinking coffee between 8 and 10 pm, like two and a half cups, so I don't fall asleep until like 4 or 5 am and then wake up at like 12, 1, 2 so I kind of just chill. I guess, I'll go to the comedy shows and I'll see if I have any friends in town. I won't have as many visitors as the last time I was in Chicago. So I don't have anything that special other than maybe trying to hit up the other theatres. You know honestly I try to invite the other theatres to hopefully come see the show, as well. It's not always necessarily a show that theatre-going people think they want to see, but once people are there they think "oh, this is fun". It is fun to watch.
MI: So finally, what is next for you after Mars/Venus? Are there any other new projects or productions coming soon?
AF: I'm in Chicago for 16 shows in 16 days and then I'm gonna hang out in Chicago an extra day and when I get back to New Jersey and New York I have seven shows in New Jersey the day after I am done in Chicago. Then I'll have a little break in March and then I actually have a short film I just did which I really believe in. Elaine DelValle, she is this veteran actor/casting director and director now in New York City and she is really making a name for herself and are working on this 15 minute short film. She got these really good actors, four of us, I have a pretty good role in it and she got it into a major film festival in March that I think I might travel down to.
Individual tickets for MEN ARE FROM MARS – WOMEN ARE FROM VENUS LIVE! are available by calling the Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at (800) 775-2000 or by visiting BroadwayInChicago.com. Tickets are available now for groups of 10 or more by calling Broadway In Chicago Group Sales at (312) 977-1710.
The talented team assembled for this production continues with the award winning playwright Eric Coble, direction by Broadway veteran Mindy Cooper, and animation & video production by the talented animators at Bazillion Productions.
Interviewed by Matt Inawat. Ron Matthew Inawat is president of the GoPride Network and contributes to ChicagoPride.com, PrideLA.com and other sites within the GoPride Network. Follow @cpmatthew