Sure, auditioning for a game show is all well and good (still haven’t heard back from those guys, by the way – that’s probably not a great sign), but unless you win that million dollars, it won’t pay the bills. You need more lucrative auditions for that kind of thing. Well, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but I’m a bit of an actor these days. So when an opportunity arises to audition for a very popular show that has taken the country by storm, I can’t not go for it.
I’ve been on actors access since Spelling Bee wrapped, and though I’ve gotten called in for a few auditions (for some cool things, including the role of Young Einstein), I haven’t actually gone out for any of them. I can say it’s because I don’t have any copies of my headshot – which is technically true – but it’s also because I’m a little scared of the whole idea.
In all of my artistic pursuits (from improv to acting to this very blog), I have very little self-confidence. It’s a classic case of being your own harshest critic. Resident public radio genius Ira Glass attributes this common phenomenon to the fact that artists have excellent taste, and their early work doesn’t live up to the standard that they are used to. This insightful position does not lessen my inability to view my own skills objectively. At the very least, being overly critical of my own work is way better than ignorantly believing I am a blessing upon the world (you know, the kind of person who once started a tumblr called “comedicvoiceofageneration“).
But eventually I have to take action. If I want to pursue all this business as a career, then I have to actually pursue it. So when I came across the breakdown for replacements for an award-winning broadway musical, I figured I had to at least submit for it. Besides, why would they even call me in to audition?
Well, they did it anyway. As my company of three made our way down to Comic Con on Thursday, I got invited to come in on Monday. Talk about bad timing – I still don’t have any copies of my headshots! To make matters worse, my throat practically began to disintegrate over the weekend. (I did briefly consider whether my sore throat was a psychosomatic reaction by my body, unconsciously searching for a reason to skip the audition, but even I am not that self-sabotaging).
So upon arriving back in Los Angeles yesterday, I had to not only try to find a cure for maybe-strep throat, but also learn all of the material for an audition slot in less than 24 hours. Luckily, my theater guru, Ryan Foy, was on hand to do all of the hard stuff. This guy literally made a resume for me while I was driving up from San Diego. And he did a great job. He fielded questions from me all day as I ran from Ralph’s (cough drops) to CVS (headshot) to FedEx (to print everything out). I hope he can use the experience in eighteen years when his unborn son is applying to Juilliard or Yale or something.
In all of the hustle and bustle, I kind of forgot that I never actually saw the musical itself. So between learning the sides and learning the songs, I had to squeeze in learning the story as well. What an adventure.
And then – the audition. As I walked into the small waiting room, wrote my name down on the sheet, and sat in a small wooden chair, I realized I had forgotten everything I had spent so much time memorizing. “Just breathe,” I told myself. “You’ll have time to go over-” “Steven.” Uh-oh. I guess it’s now or never.
I get in the room and the first thing we attack is the song. The good news is that I managed to remember about half of the lyrics. I’m sure at this point the casting director is wondering how quickly he can shuffle me out of the room. Especially after we run one of the scenes, with me playing to an invisible person, rather than the actual human being in the room. Look, it was my first time in an actual audition, okay? When I audition for plays my friends are putting on, it’s not nearly as nerve-wracking.
Turns out the casting director was more nurturing than I probably deserved. He invited me to run the scene again, actually looking at him this time. And then he allowed me to run the song once more, and maybe actually perform it this time instead of just looking down, trying to remember the lyrics. …and then again, keeping my eyes open this time. Yeah, I’m not great in the room. At least I know not to go for the handshake now.
I don’t know what’s going to happen with the audition. The generous gentleman said he would bring me back in next month to tape a call-back, but gave me the homework of actually finding the character before then. That’s a pretty apt note. More than 24 hours might help in that regard. Even if that doesn’t actually happen, this was an incredibly enlightening experience. I know what to expect now. If I can do this audition at sub-sub-optimal conditions, then I can audition for anything. Unless it’s like The Wiz or something. So get ready actors access, I’m gonna be all over you. Once I get some extra copies of my headshot.