Friday, February 17, 2012

My Second Gig -

     I had some slight hesitation about writing on this experience because I wanted to see the finished product of the sketch. I mean I shot this thing all the way back in November, and I didn't want to come off like an ass if the final video cut me out entirely. Let's begin from the start. Back in April, I auditioned for the former casting director of, Adam Newman. I found the audition through one of those pay-to-meet events at a service called The Network. Check them out here: The Network NYC Here in New York, there are three main agencies that host these workshops, classes, and pay-to-meet events. These agencies are: Actor's Connection, The Network, and One on One. I prefer both The Network and One on One because you have to audition to be able to sign up for events, and they always seem to have a nice mix of casting directors, agents, and guest artists. Now these events range in prices with some being pretty costly for a broke actor, but in the long run, I've found these events to be worthwhile investments. So I auditioned for Adam Newman back in April. I used a comedic monologue that's in my current repertoire from a play called "The Balcony Scene" by Wil Calhoun. Adam and I had a short Q & A, and he seemed pretty responsive. He said everyone would be filed away in their database, and that I could possibly be contacted to do a sketch...
    Cut to November when I received an email from Lisa asking if I wanted to be an extra in an upcoming sketch. I'd be playing a student for $60 in a sketch set in the 80's as part of an acting class for one of their newer characters, Yeardly Tinsley, a foul-mouthed failed actor. The sketch was to be a part of their newer "VHS" series. Each video was to be centered around a "found VHS tape" with various footage of different shows and specials. Did I want to do the sketch? HELL YES! She soon sent me a script and asked for my dress size. Fortunately I had that day off from work, and I showed up bright and early at 9AM on a Monday at the Atlantic Theater Company with my best "80's clothes". The sketch was taking place in an empty black box studio theater, and we were constantly reminded that we as the "students" were supposed to take this acting class very seriously. We could not crack smiles or laugh if the scene did not call for it. We were told to think of those Michael Caine acting videos set in the 80's.

On-set for "Acting Class"

     When arriving on-set, we were greeted with coffee, pastries, and bagels. I was in food heaven. We were asked to hang out while the crew was setting up, and for some of us newer CollegeHumor recruits, we were asked to fill out basic paperwork and tax forms. We also met with make-up and consulted with the costumer about our looks for the shoot. Apparently all of my clothes were considered too dark and drab for the look they were going for. Let it be known that I am terrible at costuming/dressing myself. Our smart costumer chose a look that was bright, fun, and preppy. I was dressed and sent back to set to wait some more. I felt like a villain from all of those high school teen 80's movies. The cast and I came up with fake names for our students. I was to be known that day as "Rick Studebaker". Any minute I was ready to scream, "NERRRRRRRDSSS!" 

Meet Rick Studebaker...
     Most of the morning was spent snacking and cracking jokes in the makeup room with the star of the sketch, Josh, a CollegeHumor veteran. I had a plan, and that plan was simple. Get to know people, be a nice/funny guy, and get asked back to do more projects. Also if I could get a line or some decent screen time, that would be great too. The interesting thing about doing the shoot was that most of the sketch was improvised. Yes we started out with a script, but I soon learned that Josh was an amazingly talented improviser. The director would let Josh toss out lines, play, and have fun as Yeardly. Josh started out in character, and he just wouldn't quit finding newer and funnier lines. It was like getting a Master Class on how to be funny on camera for sketch and commercials. The shoot went very smoothly and was a ton of fun. Throughout the shoot, Josh would improvise dialogue with the students, and suddenly a light bulb went off in my head... Thanks to my improv training, I was accustomed to listening in a scene and then returning with a line or quip at a moment's notice. I was ready to deliver if called upon. At one point, Josh was to go around and ask various students secrets. Here I thought, "Now this is my big chance!" "Who has a secret," Josh asked. Two kids' hands went up as they were cast per the script. Boom! My hand went up to volunteer. Someone else's hand shot up too. We were then locked as "The Secret Kids". Score! I might get a line in the sketch after all! Soon we were prepping the "Secret Scene", and off we went. It started off with this kid, Brandon. Next came me, then another kid had to share a secret, and finally the secrets would top off with a girl who was cast to deliver the secret that she was molested at a young age. Ahh... comedy. Brandon started by saying he killed a gerbil in grade school. As my turn came, I knew that I had to "heighten" the pattern of secrets by sharing something that was deeper and darker than Brandon's secret. Ding! I had it. While not entirely a true secret, I figured that my character "Rick" was a closet transvestite. I had my secret! The camera turned to me, and I blurted out my secret hoping that it was good enough to make the cut. The next boy delivered a line about throwing up in school, and finally we reached the girl who delivered the molestation bombshell. We finished the shoot with tons of stuff that didn't make the cut such as Brandon delivering a monologue while Yeardly directed him, and I volunteered a few more times to do non-speaking business with Josh. I might have cut some people out from getting some opportunities for screen time, but I guess I figured, "How many chances am I going to be able to do this? "You only live once right? I also supposed that I probably wouldn't see most of these people again, and if I stole some thunder, who cares? I went home that day proud that I made an effort to step forward and speak up. I didn't fade into the background. I took a chance and hoped that it paid off.
     For months, I addictively checked the CollegeHumor site to see when the final cut would be posted. Yes I had told friends that I had done the shoot, but I was eagerly anticipating as to what the final sketch would look like. I know it seems insignificant, but this second gig meant the world to me. It was further proof to my circle and to me that I was meant to be here in New York. It's proof that I am funny, talented, and I was meant for something more. Here I was taking one step further into this crazy mixed-up world of theater, film, and television. Yes I did do the All-State ad a while back, but I still haven't seen a copy of it or what it looks like. This simple sketch is further evidence that I'm making strides in the Big Apple, and that my first gig was not a fluke or accident. It's been a crazy ride so far with an even crazier start to 2012, but I feel like we're just revving up the engine. Stay tuned.

     Here we are. The final product. What do you think? You can check out the final version of the sketch here:

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