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3:02 pm - Mon 1/11/08
Acting Outside The Box

Acting Outside The Box

Had my first audition of the day earlier (For Orbit gum).

Like my last commercial audition -for Vytorin - it was basically about a "look", and who looks right with whom (Though unlike the Vytorin thing, they at least had us do a line to the camera). And those kind of auditions - where no acting is required, and it's just about how you look - always leave me vaguely depressed afterwards (Cause far as I recall, I've never booked a job based only on my "look", in spite of that "great look" everyone says I have. And besides, I'm an actor - it would be nice to actually act every once in a while).

All that said, my callback this evening - for the AT&T Yellow Pages "herd of dentists" spot - is really also just about a "look", and matching people up with other people. But unlike the Orbit spot - people at a wedding party toasting the bride and groom with red, wine-stained teeth, till they "clean it up" with Orbit gum - I find the image of "dentists in the wild" kind of funny.

And the AT&T thing is a callback, so at least I made it to the second round (Who knows? Maybe this is the one that breaks the jinx...).


I've been meaning to write about this for awhile: the last workshop I did, with Jeff Gafner (Assistant to Karen Church, Head of Comedy Casting at CBS) was very interesting.

I did my bit - a guy on a blind date that's going badly (starting with the fact that they're at a rib joint, and she's a vegan) - and it got a very good response.

Cause I'm a funny guy.

Then he had me do it again, and told me to laugh on every line.

I did it.

Then he had me do it again, and told me to be angry on every line.

I did it.

And I think he gave me another direction or two along those same lines, to have some extreme reaction to what was going on in the scene, and express that in every line, and I did those as well.

"Okay, what's so interesting about that?", you're wondering?

Well, what struck me was that the casting person was making me do, in front of the class, what I say I do when looking at a scene, but haven't actually done in quite some time, which is to basically, "Look for a way to do the scene that no one else will think of".

I used to think very specifically along those lines when I was auditioning for plays back in Lansing; I'd watch the other actors auditioning for the part I wanted, and be on the lookout for what they weren't bringing to the scene - jokes they were missing (Sometimes in a primarily dramatic scene), a different take on a line or series of lines - or perhaps a different way to approach the scene altogether (ex. making sure the one thing I didn't do in an "angry" scene was to raise my voice).

But now I don't typically see the actors I'm competing against.

And I've gotten lazy, egotistical, and overconfident about my abilities.

I "cold read" very well. I always have. Most of the time, it's very easy for me to "take something off the page" and make it sound like I'm "speaking".

And because that's so easy for me, so natural, I've fallen into assuming that whatever first occurs to me when I read a scene is undoubtedly the best way to do the scene (Cause I'm just that good).

And it might be the best way to do the scene - My instincts are really good, particularly in comedy (I don't think I ever "miss the jokes") - but then again, it might not be.

What the casting person was having us do was bend the scene out of shape, go "outside the box", if you will, not in order to do the scene that way, but in order to maybe find something that actually works, that'll make you one of actors that does something interesting enough to get the callback, and maybe get the job.

But speaking of "getting the job", I think it's time I head off to my AT&T audition.

Wish me luck...


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