Face Off Presents: A Whole 'Nother Level
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Face Off Presents: A Whole 'Nother Level

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
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Aug
27
Face Off Presents: A Whole 'Nother Level @ The Boiler House Theatre

Elkins, West Virginia, USA

Elkins, West Virginia, USA

Jul
03
Face Off Presents: A Whole 'Nother Level @ The Boiler House Theatre

Elkins, West Virginia, USA

Elkins, West Virginia, USA

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Face Off will take you on a "non-stop comedy thrill ride" as they take comedy to A Whole 'Nother Level! Based entirely on audience suggestions, the members of Face Off combine live music, improvised sketches, physical comedy and poetry to create a complete full-length show out of thin air.

A Whole 'Nother Level is an interactive theatrical comedy experience not to be missed, a spokesperson said. Face Off is performing at 9 p.m. today at Wesley Chapel on the campus West Virginia Wesleyan College as part of a national college tour.

A Whole 'Nother Level was created and developed by its three-man cast of Eric Robinson, Jay Painter and Joe Tex, who have appeared on Funny or Die, Tru TV, MTV, PM Sports, feature films, national and international theatrical tours, numerous commercials and Off-Broadway shows (not to mention climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, jumping out of airplanes, and serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Operation Desert Storm).

Painter is the son of Kenneth and Molly Painter of Beverly. He attended Elkins High School and first studied acting at The Old Brick Playhouse in Elkins.

"I was in the inaugural class of The Old Brick Apprentice Program and performed the role of Romeo in 'Romeo and Juliet,' their first apprentice production," Painter said. "I went on to perform professionally with The Old Brick in their touring children's shows as a company member for two years."

Painter graduated from Davis & Elkins College with a degree in theater and then moved to New York City to pursue an acting career.

Currently, Painter is the co-owner and founder of the Face Off Unlimited LLC comedy production company and teaches classical acting at Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem. - The Inter-Mountain


From Second City to IO, Chicago knows how to bring the laughs, and now it will show the rest of the world too during the Chicago Improv Festival running from April 25-May 1. The festival features 95 shows from 8 nations and 32 cities. So get your tickets to the 14th Annual Chicago Improv Fest and take note of the 5 must-see acts you won't want to miss.

Face Off Unlimited: Prepare to go on a "non-stop comedy thrill ride" with Face Off Unlimited's reliance on physical comedy, live music, improvised poetry, and audience interaction. The New York Times called Face Off Unlimited "really funny," while New York City's Night-Life Exchange called them "nothing short of brilliant." - The Huffington Post


SO Harry Truman and a guy who has some emotional problems involving thongs (the underwear, not the flip-flops) both go to see Sigmund Freud, and.

Sounds like the start of a pretty bad joke. But it was, in fact, the middle of a really funny scene at a recent performance of ''Friday Night Face-Off,'' a weekly improvisational comedy show that has become a late-night hit among a young and demonstrably appreciative audience at Theater Three here.

With a cast that usually numbers seven or eight quick-witted performers, ''Face-Off'' will temporarily expand Friday for a show marking the start of its fifth season. Former cast members will join the current crew for what is likely to be an even more frenetic twist on the show's usual competitive improv format.

That format will be familiar to viewers of the longtime TV show ''Whose Line Is It Anyway?'' Teams vie for points as they create scenes on the spot, based on suggestions called out by the audience. A referee (Jeffrey Sanzel, executive artistic director of Theater Three, dressed for his role in black-and-white referee stripes) assigns broad categories, switches gears on the cast -- ever try doing a scene backward? -- and awards the points.

It may be a touch arbitrary, but who could blame Mr. Sanzel for awarding a point recently to the team that managed -- imaginatively, if perhaps anachronistically -- to bring Harry Truman to Dr. Freud, who was also treating the thong guy. Thongs may be inherently funny; the 33rd president of the United States is not usually a subject of much hilarity, though Harry was boffo that night.

A hip-hop segment, ''Beastie Rap,'' in which team members completed each other's lyrics (''her name was Carol'' was rhymed with ''barrel,'' ''peril'' and even ''Will Ferrell'') also went over big with a college and high-school crowd that has embraced ''Friday Night Face-Off'' as a way to start the weekend.

''I've come many, many times,'' said Vincent Giarraputo, 17, a high school senior from Stony Brook who stood among dozens of youthful fans outside Theater Three before the show, waiting to head downstairs to its second-stage Ronald F. Peierls Theater. ''It's different every week, and you bust a gut laughing.''

The current crowds are a far cry from the 35 or 40 people who turned out for the very first ''Friday Night Face-Off,'' said Eric Robinson, 26, who originated the show with Jay Painter, 30, while both were performing in Theater Three productions at area schools.

Driving together from school to school, the two actors, who had done improv in the past, found themselves ''doing mini-scenes in the car,'' Mr. Robinson recalled. Soon they got the idea for an improv company at Theater Three's second-stage space, where ''Friday Night Face-Off'' kicked off in February 2003.

While they are no longer regulars, both will take part in what is billed as the ''Fifth Anniversary Show,'' which, given ''Face-Off's'' 2003 debut, is really a ''beginning of the fifth season'' celebration, Mr. Robinson agreed. ''Next year we're planning on having our 10th anniversary show,'' he quipped.

The ''Friday Night Face-Off Fifth Anniversary Show'' will be performed Friday at 10:30 p.m. on the main stage at Theater Three, 412 Main Street, Port Jefferson; www.theaterthree.com. Tickets are $12; call (631) 928-9100, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Tickets for regular performances in the second-stage Ronald F. Peierls Theater ($12; cash only) are available the day of the show only. - The New York Times


Think "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" without Drew Carey in this comedy show, which takes place downstairs at Theatre Three in a cafe setting complete with cocktail tables and drinks and snacks for the date-night crowd. Two teams of improv comics take audience suggestions and then use their quick wits to put together sidesplitting routines. A host keeps score and, let's just say, anything goes in what's become a Friday-night staple in Port Jeff. - Newsday


There comes a time in every adventuring-blogger’s life when you lose the liberty of, well, being choosy. After falling off the event-going wagon last week and being felled by a stomach bug this weekend, last night it was high time to seek out nyc-vicariously entertainment. My trusty, oft-referenced online newsletter had nothing listed for that evening, so I turned to the pages of TimeOut Magazine for Monday’s events. There were only two.

The first described a lecture event at the MoMa, featuring a performance artist famous for an “obscenity laced disco song” who would discuss her “provocative work.”

The second event took place at a bar/restaurant, and centered on “members of an improv group who will submit themselves as contestants in a live version of a Japanese game show, in which losers are forced to undergo various Jackass-like punishments.”

Despite the tempting notion of combining obscenity and disco, I opted to go to the second event; for, I confess, I love improv. A couple of times in college, a roommate and I went to improv comedy shows and I was 100% “that girl”—the one guffawing at jokes that garnered half-smiles from the other audiences members; the one that you look at wonder, “what could possibly make her react so strongly to a half-decent imitation of Jay-Z?” (The answer? I really don’t know; something about a group of people riffing on random topics just gets me going).

I grabbed a sushi dinner to go from the takeout restaurant across the street, and headed to St. Mark’s, only to find that — surprise, surprise— this “live version” of a Japanese game show was hosted in the basement of a Japanese restaurant. Oh well.


I treated myself to an apres dinner Sapporo


and sat down across from an older woman who there alone, reading a Nora Roberts book and nursing a pina colada. I introduced myself, and she explained to me that her son was in the Improv group and running tech for the performance.

A high-decibel chatter arose in the audience in the moments before the show began, peaking with talks of “release forms.” Turns out the the audience — if they were ready and willing—could also be subjected to the “Jack-ass like torture”. To remind, I was one Sapporo in, code for “not signing anything tonight.”


And then, ushered in by a rapid-fire flash of red lights (a flourish provided by my new friends’ son), an energetic, suit-and-tie clad host bounded onstage. He reiterated the show’s premise: it was Batsu, based on a popular Japanese game show theme in which an incorrect answer yielded punishment of a creative variety. The audience was partially responsible for, helping to judge the events and make it known that it was time for punishment with the increasingly familiar chant of “BATSU!” Here, we’re being introduced to the contestants, members of the Improv comedy troupe Face Off:


The first round was story-telling: an audience member supplied a prompt for them, and the first Face Off-ite member to stutter, stumble on his words, or leave room for a too-pregnant pause would, at the sound of a ominous gong in the corner, be subject to Batsu torture. The prompt was “It hurts!”, which led to a tale of going to a nail salon for manicures and pedicures. It certainly seemed like a gender-biased response to “it hurts.” That would be my answer to the prompt: “What I always try to get my mother to do with me when she visits.”

The torture that time was a paintball to the stomach.

In another early event, three of the men and two audience participants took shots of sake in rapid succession while one Face Off member strummed away, blind-folded, on his guitar. (As you can see below, when they finished their shot, they—somewhat inexplicably—had to hold the empty shot glass above their head.) Whoever was unlucky enough to be holding the jar of sake when the music stopped was subject to Batsu. This time, it was eating FRIED CRICKETS, which an incredible sport of an audience member consumed in one gulp. He was rewarded for his efforts with a beer.


Throughout the evening, it was clear that the sake was taking its desired effect, and the poor members of Face Off grew a little more numb to the punishments they faced round in and round out.

The challenges that ensued were fun to watch, but not especially creative—there was a round of celebrity impressions, a round of free-styling, a round of “___ walks into a bar” (the blank, once again, provided by the audience. In this case, psychologist, and walrus, respectively.)


But the punishments, oh my, the punishments! THOSE were borderline ingenious, and clearly the crux of the show. Administered by a Japanese woman who switched costumes according to the punishment theme, they included, but were not limited to: a giant balloon that the punishee had to pop without using hands or feet; a baby-powdered slap to the face; clothespins placed on nostrils, mouth and (eeeek) nipples; a lap dance supplied by a guy in a scanty wrestler costume - nycvicariously


The Long Island City/Astoria area has become the home of an improv production company with a long list of accomplishments and supporters that continues to grow by the minute.

In 2002, comedian and actors Jay Painter and Eric Robinson created a short-form comedy show called Friday Night Face Off. They met while on one-year contracts as company members at Theatre Three in Port Jefferson, Long Island. The theatre had a vacant second stage, which they decided to use to create their own show. Now, every Friday comedians compete two-against-two or three-against-three in short improvisation games and scenes suggested by audience members. The show’s continued success, even nine years later, inspired Painter and Robinson to create Face Off Unlimited, LLC in 2009.

“Eric was tired of having to work for people and tired of having a day job… so we decided to make improv into a legitimate business and we formed Face Off Unlimited,” said Painter.



Since its creation, Face Off Unlimited has expanded into more than just a weekly comedy show. The “Face Off Universe” includes a Japanese game show-style improv show in the East Village called BATSU!, a touring improv show and the Face Off University.

Students in Face Off University learn the fundamentals of improvisation while acting out games and exercises designed to test and strengthen one’s own improv skills. Classes are held at the Secret Theatre, and the five-week course ends with graduates performing at the theatre in front of a live audience, usually headlined by a Face Off Unlimited show.

“A lot of our classes are filled with actors, singers and dancers, but we also have plenty of people who have never done improvisation before. People [come] looking to become a better performer or unlock their creativity and just have fun,” said Joe Tex, an instructor at Face Off University and director of operations for Face Off Unlimited.

Tex has become the group’s “third head,” working side by side with Painter and Robinson since being cast and serving as its creative director from 2003 to 2007.

“We are the best of friends and we work well together,” said Tex. “My kind of funny works really well with them – we have different types of humor, but we complement each other so well. It’s not work, it’s kind of just fun.”

Making Astoria/LIC the home of operations for Face Off Unlimited was a decision made easily. The company’s web site called LIC “an artistic [and] creative force to be reckoned with” and both Painter and Robinson lived in Astoria for quite a few years.

“We looked into places in Manhattan, but we found [LIC] had such a high rate of artistic people. There are musicians, actors and painters – it is so rich with the arts here and we thought this is a place where we could imbed ourselves and become part of a community,” said Tex.

The improv team also has a comedic influence in Manhattan. Their weekly show BATSU! is made up of four competitors battling it out in short-form improvisation games with the help of audience members and their suggestions for game topics. The twist is that the show is set up in the classical form of a Japanese game show with their host, Kenji America, and co-host, Noriko Sato, announcing the games and administering punishments if the actors are not funny or fail the task at hand.

With all the different projects the company is involved in, the question remains, why specifically improv?

“[With improv] the show just happens all around you,” said Tex. “That’s a magical moment when you and the audience are creating together and they participate without even realizing they are doing it. Everyone’s taking the ride with you.” - The Queens Courier


The creators of Face Off Unlimited -- Jay Painter, Eric Robinson and Joe Tex -- don’t want their live show A Whole ‘Nother Level, which debuted to a packed house at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City on September 28, to be viewed as just another improv show. And while the performance is technically long-form improvisation, it is much more than that.


To open, the audience turned its attention to a video screen where Painter, Robinson and Tex shook their scrawny (and not-so scrawny) butts to Queen’s “Fat Bottom Girls.” The group then entered the theatre, jumped onto the stage and announced how they were “completely unhindered by rehearsal.” Unhindered, unshaken and unanimously creative might be the right words to describe this dynamic trio.

As with most improvised shows, the audience is prompted to throw out suggestions. With the debut show being a month from Halloween “witches” was the first of three (suggestions) yelled out by the audience. Without missing a beat, Painter played some Wizard of Oz music on the guitar as smoke filled the room (kudos to the technicians). Robinson and Tex took their turns under the spotlight making up songs about famous witches.

While Tex confused "Bewitched" with "I Dream of Jeanie," at one point, no one in the audience seemed to notice, and if the rest of Tex’s group did they certainly didn’t let on. Just one of many examples of this team’s strong and consistent synergy. Painter’s flying monkey was funny and physical. There were also some well-executed, wicked voices and some funny jokes thrown in to complete the scene.

The two other inspirational words from the audience were "string cheese" and "blind date." Tex’s clever joke about “ripping Polly-O from seven of his friends,” was hilarious as was the relationship between Eric and Joe as husband and wife farmers. The two clearly defined their male and female roles and never broke character.

Through music (Painter enthusiastically playing guitar) and a series of short-form games, the scenes and suggestions continued to flow, taking the audience for a fun ride that led from witches to tornadoes, to a farm that produces string cheese, and finally a blind date in that very barn. The progressive, character-driven scenes were nothing short of brilliant and creative.

The interwoven games, however, were at times a little confusing and distracting (especially if you are not familiar with that kind of improvised action). A game called ‘forward-reverse’ was obvious with Painter making the calls and actually became rather funny when Tex was commanded into slow- motion mode. An original game called “slang that” was less thrilling and even hard to understand when Robinson called it. The games that involved music were easier to follow and a bit more lively. One of the highlights of the show was when the trio broke out into a blues-type song with a repeating chorus of, “I can’t see you” (to go with the ‘blind date’ scene) which had the audience clapping and singing along.

Some self-deprecating humor, call backs to earlier jokes and even a comical reference to the warm temperature in the theatre, rounded out a wonderfully entertaining performance that just demonstrates the true genius of Painter, Robinson and Tex. It’s no wonder this trio has decided to take their improvised spectacular to "a whole ‘nother level."

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As a post script, it would be wrong not to mention the opening act of this particular show – none other than Face Off University’s Level 2 improv class. The students performed six short-form games that were funny, thoughtful and purely enjoyable.

Face Off’s next A Whole ‘Nother Level will take place on November 16, at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City. Admission price is $12. Reasonably priced beverages (including 4 Yuenglings for $10) as well as hamburgers and hot dogs were available outside the theatre throughout the show. There was an intermission for those in need of a snack or a bathroom break.

For more information on upcoming shows go to http://faceoffunlimited.com/live-shows - NiteLifeExchange.com


Discography

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lep6jQ9aGrg (Long)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL9ZJTGn0mA (Short)

Photos

Bio

Face Off takes you on a “non-stop comedy thrill ride” as it takes improvisation to A Whole 'Nother Level! This rockin' comedy show features improvised live music and poetry, physical comedy, and audience interaction! Getting three suggestions from the audience at points throughout the show, Face Off demonstrates how all things, no matter how seemingly different, are actually connected.

A Whole 'Nother Level was created and developed by its three-man cast of Eric Robinson, Jay Painter, and Joe Tex. (Funny or Die, Tru TV, :PMSports, Live-Laughs, Norwegian Cruise Lines, national and international tours, numerous commercials and Off-Broadway shows...not to mention climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro, jumping out of airplanes, eating fire, and serving with the USMC in Operation Desert Storm)