Night Face Off is Long Island's longest running Improv
Comedy Show, that the NY Times has called "Really Funny," "Quick
Witted" and a "Late-night Hit!" Using audience suggestions,
FNFO pits two teams of improvisers against each other in an all-out
championship!! Think "Whose Line Is It, Anyway?" on about a dozen Redbulls and completely uncensored!
one Friday a month, at 10:30 pm, downstairs at Theatre Three.
We serve beer, wine and other refreshments, and there is never a
Recommended for audiences 16 and up, due to
Tickets are $15 at the door, cash only.
June 23, 2023
Friday Night Face Off has improv group leaving Islanders in
By David J. Criblez firstname.lastname@example.org
“I need an everyday physical function,”
host Mike Puma tells the crowd.
“Driving a car!” someone
Puma instructs the players on stage, “Pretend you
are driving a car,
then reply with a different activity using the same motion while
saying the phrase — ‘try that on for size.’ Go!”
“My Cousin” Russo states, “This is sign language class and I’m
failing miserably, try that on for size!”
Ceramello responds, “I’m trying to whip and nae nae [fad dance]
at the same time, try that on for size!”
roars and Friday Night Face Off, Long Island’s longest-running
comedy improv show, is off to the races.
HOW IT WORKS
Every Friday night at 10:30— when it looks like Theatre Three in
Port Jefferson is about to close — the lights in the basement
stay on. Down those stairs, the room turns into a
Manhattan-style comedy club with a bar and cabaret seating for
“The key to doing improv is getting your mind to trust
your instincts,” says Russo, 46, of Lindenhurst, who serves as
the creative director and has been with the troupe since it
began in 2003. “If you think, you’re dead. Your response has to
be quick and seem very natural.”
Tonight’s cast of six is
divided into teams of three. They play 10 rounds of games using
suggestions from the audience. The host moderates and awards
points based on the amount of laughter they get and how well
they played. Crowd participation is strongly encouraged.
“It’s very interactive, but there’s no pressure,” says Steve
“Canuck” Zegers, 41, of Wantagh, who has been performing with
FNFO for eight years. “You don’t have to interact if you don’t
want to. But, if you do, you will enjoy it more.”
During the game Different Choice, Zegers is
instructed by the crowd to “play with a puppet” and everyone
involved in the scene must switch direction every time Puma
shouts, “Different choice!”
Throwing a napkin over his hand,
Zegers forms a puppet, saying, “He’s an earthworm [“Different
choice!”] He’s a snake [“Different choice!”]. He’s Dobby the
House Elf from Harry Potter!” as Jamie “The Nanny”
portrays a child eagerly watching.
Ceramello sets the scene:
“What did I tell you about talking to strangers in a Walmart?”
he says to her. “Who gives a free puppet show in aisle 7?”
Dresher says, “Can he come home with us? [“Different choice!”]
Can I go home with him?”
“I do have a van,” Zegers quips.
Zegers even met his wife, Heather
“Deflector” Shields, through acting in the group.
he was funny, smart, highbrow and quick on his toes,” says
Shields, 31, of Wantagh, about her husband of two years. “I
found that charming.”
But the romance doesn’t stop them from
competing against each other on stage.
“When we are on
separate teams, I’m going to do whatever I can to beat them,”
Zegers says. “I want to win every time.”
The tone of the show
is PG-13, and the subject of politics is purposely avoided.
“Whatever side you are on, we want you to take a break from it,”
Russo says. “Laughter is the best medicine. We are not out to
The players are deeply
passionate about the art of improv and claim they actually need
it in their lives.
“I find it cathartic that I can get
onstage once a week and get out my angst, ” says Ceramello, 36,
“This keeps me sane,” adds Puma, 31, of
Hicksville, who has the Friday Night Face Off jester logo
tattooed on his arm. “It’s my escape from everyday reality.”
Even after 14 years, Russo shows no sign of slowing down.
“My wife keeps asking me, ‘How long are you going to keep doing
this?’ I tell her, ‘Until they kick me out,’ ” he says with a
smile. “Making people laugh is the greatest feeling. You get
addicted to it.”
FRIDAY NIGHT FACE OFF
WHEN | WHERE 10:30 p.m. Fridays at Theatre
Three, 412 Main Street, Port Jefferson
$15 (cash only)