Thursday, January 22, 2009

DO I HAVE TO?

I have an audition today...

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

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?

6 comments:

  1. Now, I have a hard time rooting the truth out of some of your blogs from all the craziness. I'm going to assume there was actually alot of truth to this one.

    I don't think I would have been able to sit there dumbfounded at their crazy logic without laughing. Even more so because I would be nervous, and I tend to laugh more when I'm nervous.

    Don't feel bad Paul, you didn't want to work for them anyway. They were apparently insane. There money was probably good, but they were insane.

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  2. One gets the impression that they had no idea what they were looking for in a voice.

    Fear not, for on their way out of the office, they will be hit by a speeding rickshaw.

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  3. I'm reminded of "You know, we really like the characters Pinky & The Brain, but can you do it without the taking-over-the-world shtick?" Network People!

    Now all you gotta do is get a job writing for these turkeys and create a new character: a Scotsman with a lisp. Eh, they wouldn't allow it anyway. It'd be offensive to Scots, and people with lisps.

    And that reminds me of that dude way back when who campaigned (maybe still does) to make sure Warner Bros. never did anything with Porky Pig because he was offensive to stutterers. This guy (I think his last name was Zimmerman) was not a stutterer, and loads of stutterers online were mad at him because Porky was their hero; he doesn't let his stuttering get to him!

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  4. Ira Zimmerman.

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  5. You know, those people giving you that insane direction were similar to the people who wanted me to give them money outside the supermarket, except those people didn't look at my money and say "Good stuff, really, really, bla bla bla." They just took my money and were super grateful, which meant they were neither Cuban nor French. Or Ira Zimmerman. Your story fills me with hatred. Thank you for that.

    Love,

    Aunt Melba,
    Superquilter!

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  6. This almost reads like you were channeling Wakko. LOL clowns. But seriously, argue with them. You WANTED a Scottish guy with a lisp! I DID a Scottish guy with a lisp! If you want me to do another character by all means give me a concept, but don't leave me swinging in the breeze then complain about the results! Then pelt them with assorted sausages and clowns.

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