blow by blow: the commercial audition
I spent this morning at a callback for a Coors commercial. The entire commercial experience is to acting as doing anal gang bangs is to porn. You can make a lot of money at it, but most of it is extremely unpleasant, you always walk out feeling dirty, and you have to pretend to be loving every minute of it.
What strikes me most about sitting in the goddamn waiting room is that a lot of the actors seem to be way too enthusiastic about the entire experience. Theyre chatting and telling stories, while I sit there looking like Im about to go in for a spinal tap.
Heres how it typically goes for me:
1:45 Youve taken off work and are driving across town, painfully aware that each minute youre away represents X amount of dollars that in essence youre paying to audition.
2:07 You arrive at the casting office. Youve been to most of them so youve at least eliminated the entire "driving around crying in frustration with your Thomas Guide on your lap yelling WHERE THE FUCK IS IT!!!" part. You walk in and see the same ol faces. You hate all of them. You walk over and sign in. There are 94 people ahead of you, even though youve arrived 20 minutes early. You read the copy. Its for a company called wewillbeoutofbusinessinsixmonths.com. The spot is supposed to be funny, but the humor is on the level of the more boring parts of any given episode of Caroline In the City. Also in the same waiting room are 150 screaming children going ape-shit and 150 frustrated stage-moms on cell-phones, popping Prozac like M&Ms; women who should all be shot for pushing their kids into show business and becoming their "manager" just as an excuse so they dont have to work. There is nowhere to sit, so you sort of prop yourself up between a broken vending machine and the actor who played Mr. Belvedere; the fact that he has now been reduced to auditioning for commercials makes you want to both laugh and cry at the same time.
2:14 A blonde girl with bags under her eyes named Lauren who had the leads in all the high-school musicals but whos only paying gig in L.A. has been ass-model in a spot for a local pager shop, and who now works as a casting assistant to make ends meet since her drummer boyfriend has an expensive heroin habit which she supports because his band is playing at The Gig this Saturday night and "tons of Industry people" are supposed to come even though they are going on at 6:30pm and besides, its better than stripping which she has considered and her friend Tiffany could get her a job at Crazy Girls "like that" and the money is good but "I dont know" Lauren grumpily takes a Polaroid of you that makes you look like a cross between Lyle Alzado and Robert Smith from The Cure. She tells you to wait.
2:27 You sit trying to read a very smart and literate interview with Ed Norton in Cineaste while the following conversation takes place in front of you:
SHORT GUY FROM THE MCDONALDS SPOT:
2:38 A child stomps on your foot then begins coughing on you. Cough cough. Then he squats down and poops his pants. "Mommy!!!" A cell phone rings and 200 people check their bags simultaneously. Everyone laughs. Fucking party here. A ho audition is also taking place and there are 17 silicon-breasted women in tight peach spandex dresses with no underwear giving each other the evil eye. You wonder how many of them are going to offer to blow the casting director today. You wonder idly if you should maybe get into casting
2:49 You try to remember why you decided to become an actor. You cant. You struggle to remember a lightbulb moment like when Ed Norton saw Ian McKellen do Shakespeare, but all you can muster is the vague memory of wishing all the girls loved you like they loved Kirk Cameron. You think maybe thats the problem, that you initially wanted to be an actor to get pussy.
3:06 In one minute the casting office will be required by SAG law to pay you for having you wait at an audition for over an hour. With exactly one minute to go Lauren calls your name. You enter the room. Lauren tells you to stand on the piece of tape. You make a joke about eating tape when you were a kid, but Lauren doesnt crack a smile. A bored camera op. hits play. Lauren tells you to say your name, you do. "Profiles." You give her profiles. "And go." "Hey, Bud Man!" "And cut. Thanks."
3:09 You arrive at your car. You have a $50 parking ticket, plus youve lost that much in wages. At least you can smoke. You light a cigarette and realize you committed to quitting on Sunday. You are out of gas. And as you look for a Chevron Station, you wonder if Ed Norton ever said, "Hey, Bud Man!" to anyone else but a real Bud Man. You somehow sincerely doubt it.
(And if youre lucky and make
callbacks and in a couple days...
The Larry King Happy