First Friday Night Live Hosts its Season Premiere Tonight at The Firehouse

The skits have all been written, the sets are ready to go, and the cast is well rehearsed. According to First Friday Night Live producers Michael 23 and Aaron Johnson, it sounds like the monthly sketch comedy show is ready for its season premiere tonight at The Firehouse. 

The only thing left to worry about is the costumes, which might not be a problem. "Well, we thought we'd do every show nude this year," says Michael 23.

Um...really? "Nope," he says. "Just kidding."

​Johnson says a new lineup of joke-makers will be creating the skits and sketches, led by head writer Ben Horowitz. ("He's got such a big beard so he gets to write a lot more than the other people," Johnson jokes)

There's also a whole new cast of performers gracing the backyard stage at The Firehouse during the showcase, which takes place almost every First Friday from October until the summertime. (Johnson notes they will be on hiatus for January and February off "since it gets really cold.")

"We've tried to cast people that we're willing to give stuff to that might work on the page but that they can make funny," Johnson says. "There are times when we write things and think its funny but the people onstage makes it even more hilarious."

The cast includes a number of local theatre geeks and actors - including Mike Van Liew, Vincent Ruiz, and Marcella Grassa -- which will give the show a different feel then its first season, Michael 23 explains.

"So last year we had a bunch of musicians in our cast, but this year we kinda shifted away from that and dove more into the theatrical aspect," he says.

There a few other changes to FFNL this season besides new writes and cast members.

For instance, local comedian/ranconteur Kevin Patterson will also handle a comical newscast during the show, which is very much inspired by "Weekend Update" from Saturday Night Live. The crew's also built some "living room" seating near the stage where audience members can witness the show as if they were watching at home

Another new feature this year will be the "live remotes" and interviews conducted via Skype from galleries and other locales around First Friday, which Michael 23 says will give the show more of a Phoenix flavor.

"We're trying to get more of what happens at First Friday and around downtown into the show," he says. "The way that SNL had a New York flavor, we really want FFNL to be referential to Phoenix."

Skits and videos about Phoenix and commercials for locally-owned businesses will also be included in the show, like this recently made video about what really goes on behind the scenes at Jobot, including visual gags of employees burning money, cooking up dogs, and working in a prep area laced with booze and coke.

YouTube filmmaker Angela Mehan will create comical music videos for each episode, such as "What's In Your Butt," which screens tonight.

As before, each episode will feature a special host and musical guest, which this month will be spoken word/performance artist/writer Ernesto "Ernasty" Moncada and Wooden Indian (respectively).

Johnson claims that this year's version of FFNL will be much funnier and professional looking than last season.

"The first year we were just hoping to make it through the whole season, test the concept and it worked, so we're doing it again," he says. "Now that we know a little more about what to expect and what obstacles we have to overcome, it's become a lot easier and fun."

First Friday Night Live's season premiere takes place tonight at 11 p.m. at The Firehouse, 1015 North First Street. Admission is $7 at the door. Click here for more info.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.