When The Bit Players, Newport’s improv comedy troupe, got a call at The Firehouse Theater an hour before their show on Friday night from a Jay Leno asking if they had anytime for him to do a few minutes of stand-up comedy? They went along with it, never expecting it to actually be him, and told him to show up twenty minutes before the show and that they’d give him twenty minutes at the start of the show.
Most of The Bit Players never thought he’d actually show up, but Frank Fusaro, Artistic Director at The Firehouse Theater and a member of The Bit Players, thought it could happen seeing that Leno has been a man about town since buying a home here in 2017.
Sure enough, twenty minutes before the show Leno walked in the front doors of The Firehouse Theater. Fusaro met Leno downstairs and after a few minutes of chatting brought him upstairs to meet the remainder of the The Bit Players in their green room. “They lost their mind when he walked into the green room, I wish I had a camera,” Fusaro said.
After their normal introduction at 8 pm, Fusaro told the sold-out audience of about one hundred that they don’t usually do this but he had a friend in town who does stand-up comedy and asked if it was ok if they gave him twenty minutes? The crowd agreed and then Fusaro introduced Jay Leno to the stage. “A guy in the crowd yelled yeah right,” when I first said Jay Leno and then yelled Holy Sh*t” when Leno actually walked out onto the stage.
Leno got a standing ovation from the surprised crowd at the beginning of his set. Fusaro says Leno did about twenty minutes of stand-up comedy and “absolutely killed it”. Leno’s set ended with another standing ovation from the crowd before Leno slipped out to get home, and The Bit Players got on with the rest of their show.
Fusaro tells us that Leno apparently got a phone call right before being introduced to the stage from his wife, when he was asked what he was doing, he told her that he decided to stop by and do some comedy at a local comedy club in Newport.
“Jay couldn’t have been nicer and it was an absolute dream come true for all of us comedians and the crowd”, Fusaro said.
Fusaro and Leno talked about improv comedy and stand-up comedy before the show, and that he invited Leno to stop back in at anytime.
Like improv comedy, you never know what will happen. But we’re sure Jay will be back.
As far as The Bit Players, check out their award-winning improv comedy every Friday and Saturday night at 8 pm year-round and Laughter For Locals (sponsored by What’sUpNewp) on Monday at 8 pm and Family Friendly Funnies on Wednesday at 7 pm throughout the remainder of August. More info at bitplayers.net.