Auditions are a lot like going to the dentist...only there's no novocain. At times, given the choice, I would prefer root canal to the experience of auditioning.
Don't get me wrong, some auditions can be enjoyable and...fun. Not fun like..."oh, let's do that again." Fun in the sense that..."oh, I didn't die." Other times you leave the auditions hoping to be hit by the largest bus you can find (preferably filled with the morbidly obese...just to give it extra mass.) The interesting thing is...you never know which it is going to be.
These days, thanks to high speed internet, most auditions are done from the splendor of your own home. You get the copy, grab a mic, record it and send it off. If they like it, you get a callback. That's what I have today.
The callback is a second audition. It usually means they sort of like what you did the first time. The callback is always at a recording studio. You show up and sit in a room filled with other people who have also gotten a callback. You stare at each other and wait. It's sort of like being sent to the principal's office. You're called in one at a time as if the principal want to cross examine you to find out if you know who put the razor blade in Mrs. Princh's coffee cup during recess.
I think it would be better for everyone if they had clowns and balloons and puppies to play with while you wait. Maybe not clowns. Perhaps something like a clown but not as frightening and pathetic. Maybe a nice old woman volunteer who could read us stories and give us milk.
Then it's your turn you go inside the booth and give it your best shot.
Perhaps one of the most bizarre experiences I ever had was a few months ago. In my original audition I had done the voice of the character with a thick Scottish accent and a lisp. When I got the callback, I drove to the studio while rehearsing the whole way doing my best Scottish...lisp voice.
When it was my turn, I went into the booth and did the lines in a thick Scottish accent and a heavy lisp. When I finished, the director turned to the others in the room and talked. Now, you can never hear what their saying. You just have to kind of wait. Normally they'll talk for a few seconds and then have you do it again...and perhaps again...and again if they like where you are going with the voice.
In this particular case, they talked and talked and talked for what must have been five minutes. Finally the director's voice came over the speakers. "Good. Okay, Paul. Let's do it again. This time, lose the Scottish accent and the lisp."
What? What? No Scottish. No lisp. Uhm. No Scottish. No lisp. Uhm. Okay. No Scottish. No lisp. I stared at them blankly. The director thought I didn't understand.
She said, "In other words. Do it the same way you just did, only this time without the accent and the lisp. Other than that. We loved it. It was perfect. Really."
I just sorta stared again while quickly thinking what to do. No Scottish. No lisp...which means...I should...I should...sound like...Me. I guess. Okay. I'll do it again. Okay.
I did it again...only without the lisp and accent I sounded like...me. Which I knew I would. I finished.
They talked for another five minutes. Then. "Okay, Paul. We liked your energy before when you had the accent and the lisp. So do it again and sort of do the accent and the lisp...but in your head...without us hearing it. Subtext, in other words."
Oh, hell. I don't know what that means. Damn. Okay. Subtext. Damn. Okay.
I did it again doing the accent and lisp in my head while not doing it in my voice. The result sounded like a mentally challenged infant from Paraguay.
When I finished there was no talking this time. Just a polite, "Hey. Thanks a lot for coming in, Paul." Those words always mean...you're done. That's your cue to leave. Now, you always hope to leave the room without hearing this next sequence of words:
"Good stuff. Really good stuff. Really. Really." That ALWAYS means they hated it. ALWAYS.
Alas...the next words I heard were...
GOOD STUFF. REALLY GOOD STUFF. REALLY. REALLY.
Where's a bus?