THE SERIES FINALE
Adult Commercial Class – Week Four
Luckily, at this 4th and last class, I was exhausted. I had gotten up very early, around 3:30, to finally finish editing a friend’s project – a project that originally should have taken about 8 – 10 hours, but had ballooned to over 150, when I finally just stopped keeping track, so by the time I had to leave for class, early as usual, to avoid any and all potential problems that would get me to class late, leaving me standing on the wrong side of the locked door with the derisive Parking Valets on the Corner mocking me, I was just too tired and a little cranky to care how it all would end.
I knew, from instructions of the previous week, that we would have to do a re-run of the first week’s mouthful of marbles that was the Canadian Clusterf*ck of Copy “Afternoon Delight Baked Cookie Bars”. This time to be taped and sent to our Agents, presumably to show them either 1.) What we had learned in class or 2.) How we had evolved through attending class.
This was a tricky proposition for me because I had just signed with an Agent through the auspices of the Foundation Class and our final class taping of the Amex copy and I didn’t want to be dropped the very next month because of this taping at our final Adult Commercial Class, which was a distinct possibility, because although I had memorized and rehearsed that copy until I could spout it either half asleep or half drunk or both, I just couldn’t get it to come out sounding as if my brian had just thought of it.
I think Canadian brains are different from American brains.
I know mine is.
So I was a little nervous, but quite frankly I was really just more tired and cranky.
A curious thing did happen though. All of a sudden our class had started talking to each other in the lobby, and not with the hushed voices and contorted body language that had been so apparent in the preceding weeks but in more normal tones and postures. I wasn’t sure if it was because we had morphed from a group of Actors into a group of Survivors, after last week’s Taco Bell Debacle, or perhaps that this was the last class, and with that the knowledge of imminent release from whatever new stunt would greet us on the other side of the dreaded door at the top of the narrow stairs.
Did I say “stunt”?
I meant instruction.
Well, at least that’s what I thought I meant –
Until we finished the final taping of “Afternoon Delight Cookie Bars”, run by the reappearing Jacob running the “session”, and received a new set of instructions for what would be the last test of our abilities as Actors who had spent some $300 and 4 weeks to learn the fine art of Acting For Commercials.
Oddly enough the taping and this last class was not held in the dark room at the top of the narrow stairs. It was held in the lighter, brighter room next door to the dark room at the top of the narrow stairs. The room we had all entered after our turn at our “auditions”. The room where most of us had fled to, last week, after our first Taco Bell “audition”. The room that was mostly white, with the wallpaper that echoed the pattern of Mrs. Hudson’s tenant’s living room wall.
“The better to see you, my Dear.”
We were instructed to take a picture of the copy that was tacked up above the sign-in sheet in the lobby.
It was, it seemed, a poem.
It was not unlike Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, but just enough like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to be a little tricky to memorize, especially for me, since I had roughly 40 more years of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star banging around in my memory bank than my classmates.
We were then treated to a vocal rendition of the poem, which actually turned out to lyrics, sung in a soft voice with a softer melody that was enough unlike Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to be a little tricky to retain, at least for me, and for the reason stated above. I think we heard it 3 times.
I can’t remember if we went to the lobby or just retreated into the dark little room, which had become the new “room next door”, to hum in our heads and recall, as best as we could, the melody & lyrics to that toe-tapping little tune.
There was some other business in the Group Instructions about a desk, a phone and a friend who had landed a new job that caused us to reevaluate, if not every decision we had ever made in our lives, at least our current employment situation, hang up the phone, rise from the desk, walk to a light gray backdrop and give our rendition of the song we had been instructed to learn from the audio playback emanating from the computer in the room next to the old room at the top of the narrow stairs.
If the song passed some kind of test I can only imagine replicated the level of talent demanded by the Judges on either The Voice, American Idol or at least America’s Got Talent, we would be asked to sing something we liked to sing.
It turns out, we all were pretty decent vocalists. And we were all asked to serenade Jacob as second time with a song of our choosing.
Now here is one thing I know about most Actors. Most Actors do not have to be persuaded to entertain. That is why we are the front-and-center, personification and embodiment of the Entertainment Profession. We like to Entertain.
In front of anybody and everybody.
And so many weeks after this last class, I still wonder why we all were disparaged for rendering our vocal interpretation of the Twinkle Star lyrics in the same style that we had heard it played back to us. Three times.
Because we didn’t sing the Twinkle Song the same way we had sung our second, and personally chosen song.
No one has to push me to do a couple of bars of “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, in my best Ethel Merman. Or a couple of verses of “Second Hand Rose”.
All you have to do is ask.
And sometimes you don’t even have to do that.
I’m not sure if I was confused because I was still tired, or confused because, quite frankly, the judgment of our performances was confusing.
So I asked, (and this last week was the only week we were allowed to ask any questions) why were asked to interpret lyrics and replicate a melody not unlike a child’s lullaby, if that wasn’t what was called for.
I was told that this Session in this class, was run as it had been run in real life, for a spot that was cast and then aired during the Super Bowl.
But I have my doubts. There is wayyyyy more money on the line for a Super Bowl Commercial than any other commercial on American TV and I just don’t see the point of a Casting Director tripping up Actors with so much at stake.
I am pretty sure – because, like I said in last week’s episode, I have sat in those rooms for real life casting sessions – that no Casting Director is going to bring in Actors, give them the lyrics and a melody to a song very, very similar to “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” for them to sing in their audition, when what they and presumably the Million Dollar Director of this Gazillion Dollar commercial want is the song to be sung in the style of a chorus of “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”.
But quite frankly, I was too tired to care.
And that is how this episode and this Series Finale ends. I was pretty much shut down from asking anything else. So I didn’t. The Very Valuable Lesson of this class was to “Give It Everything You’ve Got.”
And that, was that.
I packed up my notes, my “Supply of Water”, a half eaten Turkey Sandwich, waved to the Valets on the Corner and went home.
It was over. I had survived and even though I’m not so sure it was “Good For Me”, like Scott said it would be, I’m glad I went through the rigmarole of all four weeks, partly because some of the things that happened still make me smile or laugh out loud, usually at odd moments, like when I think my wall is talking to me, but mostly because the class is now listed on my resume, and in this town, that means quite a lot. This year, at least.
Hollywood can be fickle that way.
I am extremely grateful to my very old friend, Scott Sedita, for propelling me on this journey down the Yellow Brick Road and for helping me to return to the home I had in my heart. Things have taken off so quickly and have turned out so remarkably, it sometimes seems I am in a wonderful dream… or movie. So thank you, Scott, from the bottom of my heart, for pointing me in a direction that got me to where I am now. Like they say, it’s not the destination, but the journey. I still think that’s cr*p, but I’m learning to embrace all of it. It was fun, and I made a lot of new friends along the way.
I learned a great deal in Foundation Class, things I now practice regularly and that have actually helped me become more proficient at the craft of acting for commercials.
I learned a lot of things at the Adult Commercial Class as well, which I’m sure will bode me well in this land of smoke and mirrors.
I know that when I book my first National, I will certainly take Scott, Killian, Jacob and Jaret to Shutters to celebrate –
– and I am going to stick them with the tab.
Thanks for coming! Drive home safe!