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11:28 pm - Thurs 7/15/04
\"Thinking Outside The Karaoke Box\"

"Thinking Outside The Karaoke Box"

Just got back from karaoke in Little Tokyo...

I debated going, partly because my feet have been acting up today (I feel like a fat girl's been flamenco dancing on them), but more to the point, it often just hasn't been that much fun when I've gone. And if I'm going to be lonely and bored, I can do that at home.

But in the end, it boiled down to "What else was I planning to do tonite?".

And tonite, it was fun. I sang a lot, both by myself ("Ain't No Sunshine", "Keep Your Hands To Yourself", "Act Naturally", "Word Up"), as well as with Kelly ("The Devil Went Down To Georgia"), and Mike ("For What It's Worth", "Walk of Life").

And I brought my "secret weapon"; on "Keep Your Hands To Yourself", I whipped out a harmonica and played along to the instrumental breaks (Afterwards, Jack--who did a very funny Bob Dylan impression on "Everybody Must Get Stoned"--said "That was thinking outside the karaoke box...!").

It was fun getting up with Mike to sing "For What It's Worth", but also kind of bittersweet; I used to sing that song back in Lansing with Tom H. and the late Bruce G. (Usually during fundraisers at the Riverwalk Theatre).

I miss those times...


Apparently, it's been very slow overall at JS Represents for the past couple months now.

I've had three auditions so far this month.

Last month I had two.

In May, I had four.

I need more auditions.

I did get a callback for the AllTel cellphone spot, the one where I was a cellphone worker at the "bad" cellphone place (Where we deal with an angry customer by locking him out of the building).

Unfortunately, the callback, which was a week ago, did not go as I'd hoped and dreamed...

I was very happy with the guy they were going to send me into the room with (A small, dweeby-looking white guy). I thought it was pretty funny casting, the two of us.

But then at the last second, they switched us, and put me with this Asian guy instead.

So, what was my problem with doing the scene with an Asian actor? I mean, what am I, some big honking racist?

Well, I was going to be the "Boss" in the scene, and the dynamic, at least at the initial audition, was that I was supposed to be a little annoyed with my underling for not having taken care of the chronic "problem customer" who was now approaching.

And I don't know about you, but I have never seen a commercial, tv show, or movie with a scene where a white boss has to criticize his Asian employee for poor work performance.

(I know "the hard-working Asian" is a stereotype, but I'm sorry--I just don't think the first thing most white people think of when they think of Asians are "lazy slackers".)

Sure, you can make that the joke of the commercial--"Hey, the Asian guy is learning how to be a lazy American worker..."--but I don't think that's supposed to be the point of the commercial (If anything, I think it would be distracting).

But when we got in the room, my concern went from my scene partner's ethnicity to his inability to follow a simple direction.

The director had me walk into the scene, notice the unhappy customer making his way to our door, and start giving my underling a little bit of a hard time about it ("Isn't that the guy who always complains about his dropped calls?", I say. Then when the underling says "yeah", I pointedly say, "Shouldn't we do something about that?", which is when the underling says "How about this?", goes to the door...and locks it).

We did a take, then the director instructed my scene partner, for the next take, to look up at me after I say "Shouldn't we do something about it?".

But when we did the take, he didn't do it. Which then screwed me up, because I'd been expecting it (And why shouldn't I have expected it? I'd just heard the director tell him to do it two seconds before).

So the director came up to us, gave my partner some more direction, then said, "And this time, when he says 'Shouldn't we do something about it?', look up at him", just as if he were telling him for the first time.

And this time, the guy at least looked in my general direction...but still didn't make eye-contact with me.

And I was pissed off. I just wanted to grab the guy by the hair and yell, "Hey Asshole! The guy just told you to look at me. So fucking look at me, why dontcha?".

But I didn't do that, because I imagine you get a bad reputation if you do that kind of thing at auditions (But man, I sure wanted to!).

It's painful when you feel your chance for success slipping away right in the room, and you can't do a damn thing about it...

(It also didn't help when I was told, right before we went into the room, that they'd cut the only bit where I'd gotten a laugh at the initial audition. And it didn't help some more, once we got into the room, that we had to wait for five minutes, while the director went out and took a dump, or had a smoke, or called his girlfriend, or something. I thought that was really fucking rude; if you have to take a break, you do it in between people auditioning. You don't bring actors into the room, then leave them awkwardly twiddling their thumbs while you do your personal business.)

Anyway--SHOCKINGLY!--I didn't book that gig, much to my disappointment (It's shooting sometime over the next three days).

The California river conservation PSA (Where I was supposed to be a fisherman) ended up being pretty anticlimactic.

I went to two secondhand stores that morning, but when neither one had what I needed, I ended up buying a fisherman's vest at a sporting goods store for $19.95 (That was less than I thought, and probably not the worst investment; I'm pretty sure I'll end up using it for other auditions in the future. Anytime they want me to look like a "man").

And the actual audition?

They filmed me and another guy with broomstick "fishing poles", holding up the "catch" we'd fished out of the river (He had a paint can; I had a steering wheel).

This was one of the rare times I actually felt like I'd perhaps over-prepared for an audition.

(Now, there's every possibility I could book the spot...but I don't feel all that hopeful about it: To date, I haven't booked anything where the "audition" was basically someone taking a picture of me.)


Yesterday, I had an audition for Smirnoff vodka, at a casting place on Ventura blvd.

It was late in the afternoon, and I didn't want to drive, but it was the casting place where I'd had the near-death experience of trying to get there on my bike, so biking was out of the question.

So I ended up taking the bus.

What a miserable experience--Two buses, hot, humid, claustrophobically crowded, with crazy people on both ends of the bus for most of the way, and all this in the middle of rush hour, so we were moving at a snail's pace.

I got to the casting place a moment or two before my appointment time.

They brought us all into the room at one point, and explained the commercial, which was pretty weird:

We open on a guy entering a room with a bowl of pretzels. He sits down, pops one into his mouth, starts to choke...and promptly dies.

From there, we see the man's brother at the crematorium, picking up his dead brother's ashes.

Then we see the man's brother taking the ashes someplace where they get compresed into a diamond.

From there, the man's brother takes the diamond to a shady guy, who hands him a big envelope full of money.

The man's brother is very, very happy.

If you're like me, you're wondering what the hell all this has to do with vodka. And the way the casting guy explained it, the idea was basically, "from humble beginnings..."; like the dead guy's ashes leading to a big pile of money for his brother, the humble potato ends up becoming delicious Smirnoff vodka.

The spot is running only in England, which maybe explains it.

Anyway, they called me and another middle aged guy in (I perceived myself to be the youngest "middle aged guy" there), and after a little bit of chat with the casting guy, we took turns as "Dead Guy" and "Dead Guy's Brother".

I was "Dead Guy's Brother" first, and now it was my turn to not be able to follow directions; the casting guy had told us the stuff was going to be handed to us by someone off-camera, so we had to bring it up from under the frame.

Well, I found that confusing; he'd meant we had to act "as if" we were getting the stuff from someone off-camera, then bring it up from under the frame. I misunderstood, and kept wanting to walk past the mark on the floor, to just in front of the camera, as if the casting guy was going to actually hand me the objects in question.

I wish now that I'd stopped and said, "obviously, I didn't understand what you meant. Can we do this again?".

I wished he'd stopped and said, "Obviously, you didn't understand what I meant. Let's do it again".

But I didn't. And he didn't.

On the plus side, I did a pretty good job as "Dead Brother", choking on the pretzel (The other actor complimented me on it as we left).

So who knows? I'm not exactly holding my breath on this one, but stranger things have happened.

I just need more auditions. I can't book if I don't have auditions.


Well, there's much more to write about--Spiderman II, receiving my Land's End clothes in the mail, the wonder that is Larry McMurtry--but I think I've monopolized enough of your time at this point.

See ya next time...


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