Visiting with the big lad in a dog’s life
It’s January 8 and I’m at my first audition of 2013 in a waiting room with a slew of actors. Some I know, others I’ve seen only in studio waiting rooms around the city and one I recognize from a TV commercial. I’ve waited in waiting rooms with actors more often than I’ve been on the Bowen ferry with you.
I am thinking this: it’s a dog’s life.
Dan Joffre is here, he and I started at Vancouver Theatresports back in the day and we did dozens of shows together. He’s a big lad, an outstanding fellow. If you were in a scene that was dying you were relieved to see Dan catapult in, he forever made strong offers and his energy saved your butt.
We are auditioning for a new City TV comedy called Package Deal. Comedies are not often filmed in Vancouver and tough to make work, but this one will star Pamela Anderson and has great potential (note: if I don’t get the part, that analysis is subject to change). Dan and I are reading for feuding magicians and it’d be awesome to work on set together.
Dan’s dressed his magician in a black tux, colourful bows down the front, drawn-in pencil-thin moustache. My magician is a former convict (surprise, surprise) and supposed to be wearing a turban-thingy. I’ve got one of the boy’s toques on and kinda puffed it up, that along with a colourful shirt and dark pants. It’s not about costume but about their needs and your performance.
Mind you, I regret the toque.
There are rude jokes going about, actors do that. I do not partake but see a dime on the floor and make a big deal of surreptitiously picking it up and slipping it into my pocket. Gets a few laughs and another actor notes that this is one audition I’ll turn a profit on. I tell him, “you got that right.”
Actors love ATTENTION!!!
Sean Cossey, the protégé of superstar casting director Stuart Akins (an islander) is casting the magician parts today, plus an older woman character; there’s one older woman here early for her read but the rest of us, many, are male ‘magicians’.
The TV commercial guy is being funny; he had a big part in this regional commercial and he was good. But since it was only regional, he wouldn’t have made much. I recently had a part on a national commercial where I did nothing but sit in a cab and honk a horn, but national jobs pay more. So there.
Pettiness is setting in.
It is a dog’s life. And what’s to show for it? Well, I played the Pillsbury Doughboy on consecutive nights at Theatresports, circa 1998. Dan was probably there. It was a fluke that audience members called out the same character offer two nights running and odds were I was the only improviser to do it. I’ve also played all manner of talking animals and a piece of cheese, plus my head got blown up in a sci-fi movie and I played a babbling outhouse cleaner in a western; that last job featured scenes with Tom Berenger, a great actor who sorta babbles in real life.
Here’s this: there’s no business like show business unless the aging process has taken hold and you’re crammed into a waiting room with a dozen middle-aged men, some making rude jokes, all hoping to book a small part on a cheesy TV show starring a Baywatch alumni. Did I just write that? This isn’t a cheesy show! Not until they turn me down it isn’t!!
Okay, I’m in the audition room now. Sean tells me to deliver my first line as I walk toward my mark, but it goes in one ear and out the other and I don’t do my first line until I hit my mark. Over again, Sean’s a tad annoyed. Rookie mistake. Actors are supposed to be good at taking direction but it’s only audition number 1,319 in my career so, well, cut me some slack.
Second time I nail it (natch)! Thank yous, out the door. Waiting room quiet now, the older women have taken over. The big guy had his read before mine and has left the building; we promised to get in touch and reminisce. I toss the sides (scenes I auditioned for) into a recycling box and walk out the door, like I’ve done many times before; as I go I think this: it’s a dog’s life.
But I’ll be back.