Amadeo Fusca doesn't mind being the only "no-name" included on the comedian roster at the Friars Club's annual luncheon roast on April 5 in Manhattan.
The 27-year-old comedian/actor from Churchill beat out 54 rivals for the high profile, four-minute spot in the roast of Jack Black, which will include scathing roast-style humor by pros such as Sarah Silverman, Ben Stiller, Bob Saget, John Cusack, Gene Simmons and Al Roker.
"The Friars Club win is pretty huge for me," Mr. Fusca said. "I'll be getting a fair amount of publicity and will solidify myself as a performer. And who knows who I'll meet at the roast, it's such a big league event."
Getting a spot wasn't easy. The Friars held auditions for its "So You Think You Can Roast" competition for 55 candidates, each of whom was given two minutes to impress a panel of judges. Mr. Fusca, 27, picked Owen Wilson as his "roastee," mainly because he was the first name to pop in his mind.
After the first round, a dozen candidates were left standing, and these were assigned to one of two groups. On March 1, Mr. Fusca's group roasted Roy Scheider. (The late actor is best known as star of the first two "Jaws" movies.) The other group was asked to roast cookbook author and TV host Padma Lakshmi. Judges' scores were used to determine the top three presenters, who went on to the final roast of Dennis Rodman on March 15. In the final round, Mr. Fusca was named winner.
The roasts were filmed and when released, Mr. Fusca will post them on YouTube and Facebook.
Acting since the age of 12, Mr. Fusca attended Woodland Hills High School, where he performed in three musicals. The summer between the ninth and 10th grades, he studied at the Lee Strasburg Institute in Los Angeles, where he played Nick Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream."
Later, while studying theater arts at Point Park Theater, he performed in four plays, most notably in "Romeo and Juliet," a production at the Pittsburgh Playhouse in which he played a title role.
Following graduation, he landed a speaking role in CBS' soap opera "As The World Turns," then moved to Manhattan in January 2010. For the past year, he has been a student at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Manhattan, where he's studying improv and performing five times a month, including one evening at the Producers Club, as a member of Ovulation, an improv troupe.
In 2009, he co-produced a film titled "Deference," in which he played the main character. The film was shot in Pittsburgh by Churchill Pictures, a company founded by his brother, Damiano Fusca, 33, and went on to capture the Silver Ace Award at the 2012 Las Vegas International Film Festival.
Amadeo Fusca also guest starred in seasons one and two of the Discovery ID Channel's series "I Married a Mobster" and has been featured on several regional television commercials. For a recent film titled "A New York Heartbeat," shot in Pittsburgh in 2010, he landed a supporting role in a movie that stars Escher Holloway, Rachel Brosnahan, Jack Donner and Eric Roberts.
At the moment, he's collaborating on producing short films with longtime friend Mike Smith, who helped him work on his roast material. Mr. Smith wrote and produced the latest one, "The Oat Agent," in which Mr. Fusca both acted and directed. The team plans to submit the finished work to the film festival circuit starting at the end of March.
To help support himself, Mr. Fusca works as a tour guide for On Location Tours. The bus tours employ only actors and stop at locations used in television series and films.
The actor said he has also auditioned for roles in the HBO series "Boardwalk Empire" and the CBS series "Blue Bloods."
"I'd like to be known as one of the most versatile actors of my generation," he said.
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.