Scott Sedita & The Ruby Slippers

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.

A Calgary Flames’ Usher.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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.”

Yo Quiero Taco Bell

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.

Beam me up, Scotty.

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”.

No one does it better

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.

My favorite part of Football

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”.

Up above the world so high…

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.

Who are you and what are you all doing in my bedroom?

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scott Sedita & The Gatekeeper

This episode is humbly dedicated to my college friend, Emmett Loughran, a superb Technical Director and later Director, who brought me in to work in Live Sports TV in the days before ESPN. The stakes were high, the stress to get it right even higher, but even then, at his young age, performed with incredible grace and professionalism under huge amounts of pressure.   And still does.

“What notice?” 

Adult Commercial Class – Week 3

Just when you thought it was safe to go back to class, after the kinder and gentler Terminix copy, along comes Week 3.

This one is long, and not for reasons you think, so go and get a snack and/or a beverage and come back.  I’ll wait. I’m an Actor, so I’m used to it.

Ready?  Here we go.

Once again our class sat huddled in the lobby, although by this time, everyone had started to talk to each other, still in soft voices, but with a sense that the worst had happened and we could relax a little.

We were so, so, so, so, so, so, so wrong.

So wrong.

We were given not one, but two commercials, for Taco Bell.  There were 3 characters in each spot, and we were required to know all of them.

The good news was, (at least for me) we were forbidden to rehearse with each other in the lobby, and that was spelled out in no uncertain terms on a pice of paper posted above the sign in sheet.

It was an easy spot, the lines were idiotic, but short.

When auditioning commercial copy, for me, short is always good.

We were marched up the stairs for group instructions.

Now pay attention, because here’s where it got tricky, and I can say that now in the literal sense of the word.

Group Instructions are where a group of actors are brought into the audition room before being called in individually to audition, to listen and hopefully remember the directions of the Casting Director.

What they want out of you, out of all of us Actors, for the spot.

Because the Director of the spot has told the Casting Director what they want.

So there are no misunderstandings about anything.

Casting Directors walk you through the copy as if they were the Director, which is why they are called Casting Directors.

They tell you the tone of the copy, the blocking of the copy, from the very beginning to the very end and they will even tell you the relationships of all the characters in the copy.

You will play a a married couple, with friends over for dinner…

All of this is not only so you have the opportunity to deliver the goods asked for, but to facilitate the swift and consummate completion of the casting session to everyone’s satisfaction.

In this business, time is money, the meter is always running and Casting Directors do not want you to waste their time with a delivery style of Hamlet‘s soliloquy in Act III, Sc. 1, when all they really want from you is a deadpan reaction with a piece of foam core hanging from your head.

So they don’t leave anything to chance, except for your actual performance, and they don’t leave anything out.

In an extremely abrupt and terse manner, we were told in this group instruction:

  1. We would be auditioning both scripts, first would be the “Fajita Sizzle”, then “The Dog Barking”.
  2. Who would be playing which character: Guy #1, Guy #2 or The Girl, would be determined once we got into the room.
  3. Where we would be sitting in the scene.
  4. When to slate.
  5. Where to go after the audition. (Not surprisingly, we were to go into the room next door.)
  6. The standard rigmarole of “on-deck” and “top-of-the-stairs” to get us in the room beforehand, although I think for this we just lined up on the stairs.
  7. The reiteration not to rehearse with our scene partners.

Did I mention that Jacob, our usual Giver-Of-Group-Instructions and Runner-Of-The-Casting-Session, was nowhere to be seen?

So, the anxiety, which had somewhat softened in the lobby beforehand, had not only instantly returned but shot through the roof of the dark little room at the top of the stairs, when we all realized who would be running the “session” from start to finish.

We trooped back down the stairs in dead silence to wait.

NEXT!!!

I can’t speak for my classmates’ experience, but here’s what happened to me.

I think my group was the 3rd group to go in the room.

We came in, we sat down to slate.

I asked if I could ask a question.

I was told “No.”

And the balloon went up.

There was a bowl of cut up bread that magically had appeared, to simulate whatever product we were to be selling.

Although that was not mentioned in the Group Instructions.

Action was called.

I picked up a piece of bread I assumed was the product that we were supposed to be enjoying.

Although that wasn’t mentioned in Group Instructions.

I was Guy#2, but I started to speak, because in the stage directions of copy, it said we were supposed to be enjoying a sunny day in one of our backyards, although who was the host of this little gathering  was not made clear, and whenever I either host or attend a gathering in either my or someone else’s backyard, I tend to talk to them, rather than descending upon and devouring whatever food and/or beverage I could get my hands on, in silence.

Although that was not mentioned in the Group Instructions, either.

But that was the question I had hoped to ask The Casting Director, because adding introductory business to the audition is their purview and not mine.  Tick-Tock, as they say.

Anyway, I didn’t get the chance because Guy #1 had started speaking when Action was called, since he had the first line.

So after that, I said my line.

The Girl did not say their line.  Or did not say it in time.

I really don’t remember, because what happened next shocked me to the core.

The Girl was told to Get Out.

Get Out.

The Girl got up and fled to the next room. Fled.

Because at the end of the day, Actors will pretty much do what you tell them to do.

If you tell them to do it.

I don’t even remember if “Cut” was called.

The Girl was replaced by another Actor, while Guy #1 and I regrouped for a second take.

This wasn’t easy because I had started to imagine some Monty Python-esque contraption in the room next door that annihilated inadequate Actors as they passed over the threshold.

We re-slated, I picked up my bread/fajita and Guy #1 said the first line.

I said my line.

The Girl did not.

The Girl was told to Get Out.

The Girl fled to the next room.

The second after the door closed behind them, without bringing in anyone to replace them,  and without telling either Guy #1 or me, The Casting Director threw the first line.

Of the second spot.

“What’s your dog barking at?”

Guess who had the second line?

Righty-o.

Me.

But by the time my brain registered, in that split second, that I was to reply with the copy of the second spot, because it was still under the assumption we were still working on the first spot, because we hadn’t made it to the end of the copy, it was too late.

I was told to Get Out.

And being an Actor who is trained to do what someone else tells me to, I did.

With some relief, I discovered that there was no Monty Python-esque contraption in the room next door that annihilated inadequate Actors as they passed over the threshold.  Instead there were the still-shocked faces of my classmates, huddled in their chairs.

I found one of my own and as I sat, the next deficient Actor came through the door, eyes wide with alarm and bewilderment and stuttered to the rest of us the universal phrase for “I have no understanding of what I just went through” –

“What The F*CK was THAT????”

What the f*ck, indeed.

I don’t know about the rest of my classmates, but I was livid. For several reasons.

Actor by Actor came through the door, with much the same expression, both verbally and visually.  Eventually it was all over, and we were commanded back into the dark little room to view our performances and receive adjustments for the second attempt, which now included the inclusion of the stage directions and the allowance of the using the cut-up bread as a prop, which had been left out of the first Group Instructions.

Suffice it to say, our second attempts were better than the first, and since all three Actors passed, in a group, through the doorway to the next room, I can only assume that they all had navigated the copy in some kind of acceptable manner and no one had been told to Get Out.

We were called back to view these final auditions with one more twist.

We were no longer to be merely Actors, verbal cogs in the wheel of  Advertising, we were to view these second auditions as Callbacks, and we were to be the Agency Executives responsible for hiring the Actors cast in the spot.

I always wanted to be Joan.

Here’s where it gets a little interesting and a lot ironic.

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, in a land called Costa Mesa, I worked at an Advertising Agency called Bozell, Someone, Someone and Someone.

I was a Broadcast Producer.

And my client was Taco Bell.

I am very fond of Taco Bell, not so much the food, although I do enjoy their Chalupas, but mostly because they bought me my first house.

There is money to be made on both sides of the camera in Advertising.  Big money.

But I digress.

As Broadcast Producer I was responsible for the entire execution of the commercial.

The Train is now leaving the station… All Aboard!

From the moment I got the “Boards”, the drawings of how the commercial was supposed to be shot, through viewing the video reels & recommending the  Directors I thought would best enhance those storyboards, to supervising the entire production of the commercial, to choosing and overseeing the editing and any post-production work necessary to deliver unto my Executive Producer, my Agency Creative Director and my client, Taco Bell, a completed spot that would be broadcast on television stations across the nation into your living room. Everything that went into manufacturing that commercial was now under my authority.

And although I rarely attending the first go-round of auditions, I was always there for callbacks, but not for the reason you think.

I would go to Callbacks not so much to observe the Actors; I could watch the callback reel if I wanted to do that.  At Callbacks I was usually the person in the back of the room going through paperwork, if you are an Actor and want to know who all those people are that are not paying attention to you, in the room.

I went to Callbacks to observe the Director and the Casting Director, to watch  & listen to how they interacted with each other and how they interacted with the Actors, because that was one of the first indications of how things would evolve during production. My production.

So, if this class was actually a real Taco Bell casting session, and the Casting Director had run this session the way this class had been run,  well, let’s just say I would have been the one to say GET OUT, and not to the Actors.

As a matter of fact, I would have shut down the session, kicked out the Casting Director, reamed the Director a new one, shoved my paperwork into my bag, driven at high-speed the hour and a half nightmare from the 101 to the 5 to the 605 to the 405 to the 55 and strongly recommended, much like the note pinned above the sign-in sheet in the lobby, in no uncertain terms, that the Director be fired and replaced – immediately.

Good Times…

So even if I only had vague recollections about Casting Sessions I had attended as an Actor, I have clear recall of Casting Sessions I have attended in the service of the Ad Agencies who employed Directors who employed Casting Directors who looked for Actors for them to employ and none of them were ever run like this class.

I don’t know.  Maybe things have changed and I never got the memo.

I do know in this day and age of High Speed Tweets, someone, somewhere at Taco Bell, or other high paying Ad Agency Client, would eventually learn of the shenanigans taking place during such a casting session for their product, maybe not from an actor, as actors are notoriously allergic to doing anything that might piss someone off and prevent them from getting their next job – and everyone knows Hollywood is run on, after imagination, plain palm sweating fear – and fearing, because theses Big Clients have a lot at stake as well, that these shenanigans would spread far and wide, across all platforms and devices, until almost everyone on almost every corner of the planet would know about it, and perhaps, for good or bad, boycott their product, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t want their casting session run along these lines, as well.

A little birdie told me….

So as an Actor, I was angry to be treated in such a manner and as a former Broadcast Producer I was angry that this class was run in such a way as to potentially bring down the House of Taco Bell.

After all, they bought me my first house.

Not To Scale

As a “Mock Agency Client”, I voted for the Big Black Guy to be cast in our Taco Bell Spot.  I know Taco Bell and KFC and McDonald’s, and I know all they really want is for some consumer out there in TV Land to turn to someone else and say, “Dude, let’s go get one of those things that Big Black Guy was eating.”  They all know, as enticing as their food appears in those commercials, (and I can’t even begin to tell you the time, money and expertise that goes into making that happen) it’s the people eating that food that does most of the selling.   The Big Black Guy was a little rough around the edges, but I would have called his agent and told them if they put him with a coach, he got the spot.   I was outvoted by the rest of the class, who chose the Mousey Little Girl.  She read better, but I know if I’m trying to sell a Fajita Quesadillas in 30 seconds, that Big Black Guy has won half the battle for me, just by showing up onscreen. Casting is everything.

I acquiesced to the majority because, as Killian said, everyone just wanted to get to Shutters.

And just so you know that no one is immune to the ups and downs of this business, we eventually lost the Taco Bell account to a company that came up with a brilliant, though ill-fated campaign featuring a dog not unlike the three I live with and the slogan, “Yo Queiro Taco Bell”.

The entire 6th floor, including me, was fired, although I went to the 4th floor and worked on some smaller, specialized client campaigns for a while.

I still miss Shutters.

Even Better Times

I can’t remember whether this was the week or last week at the end of class we were treated to a video of Louis Armstrong and Danny Kaye from I think the 1959 movie “The Five Pennies”, which delighted me, because I adore them both, and mystified my classmates, much like the Eartha Kitt video we were treated to in Week 4 of Foundation Class, (and which would eventually, I am quite sure, mystify the current Foundation Class, who had no one even remotely close to my age in attendance).  It might have been, because the Very Special Lesson we learned through that video was about Relationships.

I am pretty sure that Satchmo and Danny’s relationship was formed long, long, long before that movie was shot and even longer before it was presented to us on the classroom monitor, but I didn’t care.  Watching them sing and play was far better than talking to a Wall, and had at least started to take the bad taste out of my mouth that was this Taco Bell class.

Although I still like their Chalupas.

Don’t Go Away! We’ll Be Right Back After A Word From Our Sponsors!

Scott Sedita & Professor Marvel

This episode is dedicated to my High School Calculus Teacher, a memory that haunts me to this day.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that. 

I see a Superbwl Spot in your future…

ADULT COMMERCIAL CLASS – WEEK 2

Week Two found us once again in a costume of sorts.  This time we were given copy for Terminix, a company that gets rid of whatever unwanted inhuman visitors that have invaded your home, Zombies excluded.

This was a partner spot, one playing the Human Homeowner, the other the Wall.  I remember this spot from TV.  It was well written and it was funny, even though it relied heavily on one actor playing a wall, which required hanging a piece of black foam core with a hole cut out in the middle, on your head.

Part of the reason was the relationship between the wall and the homeowner.  I mean, we all have walls in our domiciles, but no one really stops to consider them as family members or, at least, occupants.  And then there’s the underlying joke about “talking to walls” and also the expression “if walls could talk”.

On the whole, it’s a very clever spot, so I was very relieved, after the first week’s clusterf*ck of dialogue on top of the insane blocking required for the “audition”, as were, I am pretty sure, the rest of my classmates.

But even though this was a far easier spot to work with, the damage from the previous week had been done.  Our Adult Class sat stiffly in the lobby, speaking in hushed tones, grasping backpacks and pocketbooks to our chests, as if for protection from some unknown but anticipated attack, compared to the new Foundation Class that had just started and occupied the lobby with us.

They were happy and excited – almost exuberant, as they spilled out of the downstairs room,  holding their copy, which, I was pretty sure, was The Amex spot we had also done in Week One.

Foundation Graduating Class – March 2017

Good times.

Once again we all trooped upstairs for the Group Explanation, given by the schizophrenic Casting Associate, Jacob.  Did I tell you about the Actor’s Gym I had been attending during the short hiatus I had between The Foundation Class and The Adult Commercial Class?   I will.  That’s where I first met Jacob, who ran the sessions for The Gym, and how I knew that Jacob actually had two personalities.

Not unusual for an actor, but very curious in this situation and very understandable once I remembered who signed his paychecks.

But I digress.

We were to pair off, one Actor to play the Wall, one the Homeowner.  The Wall, not surprisingly, was to stand there while the Homeowner entered.  We were to act, then switch roles, then act again, then exit, Stage Left, into the next room to wait until everyone had their turns.

Here’s where I ran into a bit of a problem.

I am not fond of rehearsing commercial copy with a partner.  Commercials are not like theatrical scenes.  There just isn’t time, after “action” is called, to create a mood, for one thing.

The other thing is that, as with everything acting, you are creating a relationship within that mood, and that is where everything can go south, fast.  For me, anyway.

I don’t mind running lines to get them down.  I will do that all day, if that’s what it takes to get them down, but the moment another actor opens their mouth to act while rehearsing commercial copy, I get into big trouble.

Unless they are surprisingly good, which, in a classroom situation, is not always the case.  Even in real auditions, it is not often the case.

This is not to say that I am good at this, and that is the other part of the problem.  I am also trying to find my feet within the copy, so I do not want to start worrying about the strength of my partner before I even get in the room.

Best Deal In Town

One week, at the Actor’s Gym – (ok, In a nutshell, we are emailed a time to come and “audition” in an “audition” situation, to work on our skills and keep up our chops. Jacob runs it, and runs it extremely well) – my partner was a very nice Asian girl who spoke barely a word of English and understood, I was to find out, even less.  So she didn’t even understand the Group Instructions, even after I spent more time explaining it to her out in the lobby, and more so when it was our turn to “audition” the spot.

Needless to say, the “audition” didn’t go well.  I spent a lot of time throwing her cues for what she was supposed to say and do, so I could say and do what I was supposed to say and do.  So this 30 second spot ran about an hour and half – and it didn’t get any better after Jacob’s adjustments (things that the Casting Director wants you to change in the next attempt).

To know that going in throws me off-balance, and with commercials there is absolutely no time to recover, so I don’t want to know what the other Actor is going to do, because then I spend all my time trying to find our balance.  Or picking myself off the figurative floor.

A little help.. please?

Another thing I like is to surprise myself.  In real life, I hardly ever know what is going to come out of mouth before I open it.  Sometimes that’s a good thing, and sometimes, according to my friends, it is not.

But that’s how people talk and that’s what makes real life, real. It’s also how scripted copy is supposed to sound.  As if what is coming out of your mouth hasn’t been desperately committed to memory mere moments before the audition.

But Actors will be Actors and my partner wanted to rehearse, so we did.  I liked being the Homeowner better.  Not that I mind standing on camera with a piece of black foam-core hanging off my head, but the Homeowner was distracted by flipping through mail after coming in the house, which is something I do quite well and often, in real life.

What’s on HBO?

It required a “deadpan” delivery, something I am not great at.  I’m good at it if it has some kind of sarcasm attached, but my face does things my brain has no control over.  I am Italian, so I tend to unconsciously talk with my hands, which is something I am practicing not doing because I am trying to “stay small for the camera”.  So now my face is picking up the slack.  My eyes, in particular, are a coalition unto themselves.  They betray me every chance they get.

I also live alone, with the exception of 3 dogs, so I am very much used to talking to Walls.

I had a little more trouble being the Wall, for the same reason.  Whenever there is bad news at my home, like an invasion of 50 million termites, my Walls do not share this information with me. They are characteristically silent.

What’s for dinner?

But because this is a class where we are supposed to learn, I have recently asked my dishwasher to start running lines with me, just in case I am ever called in for a Cascade commercial.

It should have been a fun spot and a fun day, not unlike the Foundation Class, whose squeals and laughter could be heard in the small, moderately lit room next door, with the great wall paper that echoed the wallpaper from the PBS Masterpiece TV series “Sherlock“,  from the lobby below, but the tension that had been created during Week One had continued during Week Two, even with the new-and-improved copy we were given.

I learned a tremendous amount in Foundation Class, and had fun doing it. I practiced what I had learned at home, and quite a bit of it was just almost starting to become second nature.

I had gotten an Agent based on my Foundation Class Final Amex Audition that was taped and sent out to Agents, courtesy of a generous Killian.

As a matter of fact, 3 Agents had expressed an interest in me. So whatever I had learned in the Foundation Class was working.

I was doing well at The Actor’s Gym, with Jacob running the sessions, putting what I had learned into practice.

But this Adult Class was run so very different, and I just couldn’t figure out why.

I remembered during the First Week, we were told in no uncertain terms that auditions were, above all else, a competition between Actors, and we were never, ever to give our competition any edge whatsoever.

I get that, although I have never met Actors who were not generous with each other, and I agree with that in some of the technical aspects required, but there is also no one quite like me out there, and if they don’t want that, nothing else I do on camera is going to make a bit of difference.  I just do the best I can & have as much fun as I can, while I’m doing it.

We were told about the insane amount of money an Actor can make appearing in a TV commercial.  This Terminix spot ran during the Super Bowl, which is the Super Bowl of Paydays, if you are an Actor who appears in one of those spots.

I know that not only does Killian want us to book the commercials we go out for, he wants us to book the commercials that could possibly set us up for life; a life that could include owning a home where walls would actually tell you there are 50 million termites who have just moved into the dining room.  And maybe a swimming pool that sings.

Y’all Come Back Now, Y’Hear!

So with the stakes that high and the bar set even higher, he runs his classes as if our next meal, or perhaps our entire future, or the future of our dependents, well… depends on it.

And that future seemed to include a heck of a lot of tension, angst & paranoia.

I see a Rehab Clinic in your future.

It’s been a long time since I had auditioned for anything, so I was having trouble remembering if the tension before, during and after each class was something I had experienced in real life audition situations.

I had vague memories of Casting Directors who were supportive, who wanted us to do our best, to help us shine so that we in turn, would make them shine.  It always seemed a little collaborative, the “relationship” between the Casting Director, The Casting Associate and the Actor.  We are all dependent upon each other for our next gig.

I know to get to that place were you can nail a Super Bowl commercial, you need one thing, after talent & technique, and that is confidence in your abilities.

I just wasn’t quite sure how all this tension was supposed to help create confidence, but I was willing to keep moving forward.  After all, Scott Sedita, my personal Wizard and friend from High School, wouldn’t send me to a class where it was run like some psychotic hazing for a hostile Frat House, or one of those weekend Pop-Psychology Transformational Seminars that ran in the ’70’s that promised enlightenment if you didn’t go to the bathroom for 48 hours.   There had to be some method to this madness…  I hoped.

I guess only the future would tell.

I see… Doris Day!

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Scott Sedita & The Other Wizard

This episode is dedicated to my friend, Valerie Berwanger & her talented family, who starred in many of my spec spots.  She was brilliant, on the first take, without a class or audition.  It gives me pause.  See what they did here

I had fun at my first Killian’s Adult Commercial Workshop  – but not for the reason I thought I would and I’m pretty sure not for the reason Killian thought I would.

Let me walk you through it.

ADULT COMMERCIAL CLASS – WEEK ONE 

First of all, the Adult Commercial Class is held upstairs.  Up a steep and very narrow stairway, with a taller top step, guaranteed to make you trip unless you were told about it, which we were.

But now I know that top step was but a foreshadow of things to come.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first walked in.  I had pretty much gotten the whole driving, parking, water supply thing down by the Week 4 and our last class of Commercial Foundation Class, so that was easy.

We signed in, grabbed the copy and settled in for a few minutes of figuring out what we would be selling, how we would be selling it and more general figuring out of performance and memorization.

Do any of you remember this?

I thought you might.

The copy was very similar, with the exception of the 23% alcohol content, which, to my mind, would have improved it a thousandfold.

It was something like this.

I’m not sure if our Foundation Class and Turned-Out-To-Be-Canadian Teacher Jaret Sacrey had anything to do with it, but it did cement my newly formed dislike of All-Things-Canadian.

Nobody talks like that.  Nobody.  Ok maybe those Non-Recreational Pharmaceutical Commercials come close, but not when it comes to cookies.  Not American Cookies, anyway.

Oh, a kid will eat…

We actually, as a homework assignment, had to watch the new Oreo Cookie Campaign and figure out what emotion they were selling behind the cookie.  The winner got to attend The Actor’s Gym for free.  I didn’t win.  Mostly because I watched the wrong campaign. I watched the one with Shaquille O’Neal.  It didn’t matter that much to me.  Both campaigns were not that good and no one has to convince me to eat Oreo Cookies, anyway, plus the Actor’s Gym is only $5 bucks and I can afford to pay my own way.

After a few minutes we were herded up those steep and very narrow stairs and into the room, which looked, unsurprisingly, much like the downstairs classroom.  Dark walls, dark backdrop, dark floors, dark chairs, one soft light.

Who’s your Decorator?

We were given the usual Group Explanation, which involved an extremely over-complicated bit of physicality: starting behind a table, walking around the side of the table, picking a jug of coffee and a styrofoam cup, starting our spiel, pouring the coffee into the cup, putting the jug down, walking across the room with the cup of coffee to another table, sitting at the table with the coffee, dashing off an “email” at the broken prop laptop and finishing our lines.

That was a pretty high bar for me, even with 8 hours of Foundation Class and another 4 hours of at-home practice under my belt.  Just reading that copy from the paper, sitting on the bench in the lobby was difficult.  Ok, maybe not for a Canadian, but it was for me, and I suspect, anyone else born in the lower 48.

 

Even The Translations Need Translations

Commercial Acting is unlike any other kind of acting.  Not the acting part, the technicalities you have to master before you can even think about acting part.

It is difficult under the best circumstances and this class wasn’t even close to being in that sphere.

After the Group Instructions, we were thrown, figuratively, back down the stairs, and arranged in the order we had signed in, one Actor to stand at the top of the stairs, one Actor, “On Deck”, at the bottom; the rest of us in the lobby, pacing back and forth, frantically trying to memorize those verbose lines, based on Canada’s Food Guide.   Our stuff had to stay in the lobby. The disposition of the class had been set.

What happens in the Lobby…

The Net, as advertised, was nowhere to be found.  As a matter of fact, if it was there, while we were signing in and walking up those stairs and getting our group instructions, it was pulled as soon as we walked in the room for the “audition” and the normally-nice-but-suddenly-turned-pretty-curt Casting Associate, Jacob, said “Action”.

I crashed and burned.  As did most, but not all, of my classmates.

Once we had auditioned, we were tossed into the room next door, the only room that had enough light to see the shocked faces of my classmates as they came through the door.

There was much confusion as they debated whether it would be permitted to go back down stairs (courtesy of a back and similarly steep and narrow stairway) and grab their stuff and bring it back up.

I needed my “Supply Of Water”, so I just went downstairs and grabbed my stuff.

As in Foundation, we watched our performances and were chastised, not for our acting abilities (because that is not what this class was about, we were told), but for our acting abilities within the technical aspects of delivering copy.

Then we were permitted to do it again, with the stairs and the “on-deck” and the lobby pacing.  We were told we could go “off book”, we could “play with” the dialogue somewhat, making sure to hit the pertinent information, Name of Product, Canada, Healthy, Cookie Aisle. Stuff like that.

There was less shock in the faces as they walked into the room next door and our performances were much better the second time around.  Some more than others.  Mine was marginally better, I thought.

Part of the problem for me was that the name of the cookie was “Afternoon Delight Cookie Bars”  and no matter how hard I tried, first in the Lobby, then “On-Deck”, then at the Top of those stairs, all I could think of was two Cookies having sex with The Starland Vocal Band’s 1976 #1 Hit of the same name playing as soundtrack.

What Would Canada Think?

The image made me laugh so much in my head, I forgot pretty much every line I was supposed to say and almost all of the blocking.

Sometimes being 60 years old is a definite liability.

Anyway, we were given more critique and some notes and then our freedom.

I learned a lot of things that first class.  I learned that Killian really liked Actors – maybe not all of us, personally, but as a group.  He wants us, more than anything, to book these commercials which we are invited to audition.

And he loves this business of commercials.  Small, 30 or 60 second stories that are not only meant to entertain but to compel you to buy whatever they are selling. No matter what you think, crass commercial consumerism is what makes this world go around.  The fact that you’re reading this on a computer or your phone proves that.

Early Emojis

Some of that might be selfish.  As a Casting Director, I am sure he has seen his fair share of Actors stumbling through whatever commercial copy of whatever commercial he has been hired to cast and started the school to impede some of that.

I know if I had to sit through even a 3rd attempt of all of us going through the copy and the physical crap for “Afternoon Delight Cookie Bars”, I would have thrown myself down those steep and very narrow steps into the very bright lobby.  So I couldn’t even imagine sitting through an entire day of that…

But, this was a class… where we were supposed to learn how to do the things that would not cause a Casting Director to throw themselves down the stairs.

As I collected my stuff and headed down those steps, out to my car, now parked in its usual spot, far from the Valets and under the proper parking sign, a nagging feeling started to develop.

There was something.. I don’t know.  I just couldn’t put my finger on it.

It was a thought I pushed aside that was instantly replaced by that relentlessly cheerful hit song as I pulled out of my spot and headed towards home. This class started later than the Foundation Class and I was a little peckish after eating my surreptitious Turkey Sandwich huddled in the doorway of the building, just before class.  I found The Starlight Vocal Band station on Pandora and started singing.

I needed a “snack”, and I knew just which snack I wanted, and it wasn’t, nor would ever, meet with Specific Nutrition Guidelines based on Canada’s Food Board.

It’s So Tasty, Too!

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Scott Sedita & Toto, too.

This episode is dedicated to Kathleen Dennehy, who I met when we were both so, so young, during rehearsals at a Community Theater and whose life has become the stuff that would make Shakespeare applaud.  I know I do. Read all about it in her blog here.

Run, Toto, RUN!

WEEK FOUR

Week Four found me developing a mild dislike for our Turned-Out-To-Be-Canadian-Not-Mid-Western teacher, Jaret Sacrey and the beginning of  a strong hatred for Canada in general, especially after I entered WEEK ONE of Killian’s Adult Commercial Workshop.

This week was our last week and we were told that we would be doing a re-run of the Amex spot from WEEK ONE, to be taped (of course) and distributed to agents so that those of us un and/or under represented, might be signed.

This was a terrific opportunity, graciously provided by Killian, who we still hadn’t met.

Don’t just stand there – ACT!

Jaret had told us about it at the beginning of the Course, but at the time I was still so overwrought by the traffic and the parking signs and the evil Valets at the corner, that it had slipped my mind.  But he refreshed it at the end of class on WEEK THREE, so we knew what we were walking into, so all was well.

Unfortunately, that is all I thought we would be doing, but Jaret and I’m sure to some extent, Killian, had other things in mind.

Like a particularly idiotic spot poached from a pivotal scene in “Close Encounters of The Third Kind” where we, instead of gaping in shock and awe at the sight of an extremely large and heretofore undocumented Flying Saucer, were to affect the same reaction for some SUV that had just come from the clouds or outer space or over the hill or someplace that I really can’t remember because once again my brain froze after Jaret gave us our group instructions.

Ooh! A CAR!

Really.

The other spot we were given involved Shakespeare, Community Theater and 8 Seconds.  In that order.

Now my brain likes Shakespeare quite a lot, so it was pretty happy.

Until the You-Think-All-Canadians-Are-Nice-But-You’d-Be-Wrong teacher, Jaret, told us we had to do the death scene from Romeo and Juliet in 8 seconds or less.

The reason (and he told me when I asked him – before the slate, which I’ll explain eventually) had something to do with a man reviewing the highlights of his entire life, and this 8 second snippet of a Community Theater performance of Romeo and Juliet seems to have made the list.  Why anyone would ever mount a Community Theater performance of Shakespeare is beyond me.  Those plays are long, and even watching a Joe Papp Production can be exhausting.

Perchance to dream..

Shakespeare uses a lot of words even when he is being brief.  I just think that’s how they spoke in those days, most likely because they had more time than we seem to today.  I can’t even imagine how Bill would handle a tweet, nowadays.

“Oh, Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo?”

“Dude, where u at?”

Anyway, we were paired up, one to play Romeo and one to play Juliet and then we reversed roles, so that at least at some part of the exercise you got to lie down – for at least 8 seconds.

It was kinda fun watching the replay on the monitor.  It’s very easy to mangle Shakespeare, even on a good day, and this was not one of them.

At the end of the Course, I thought I understood why we were given such bizarre commercials to attempt as novices.  With commercials and the auditions you hope to attend, you just never know what you are going to walk into. You usually do not get the copy beforehand, as you usually do with theatrical auditions, because the Ad Agencies don’t want other Ad Agencies to know what they’re doing.

You’ve seen Mad Men, so I really shouldn’t have to explain this to you.

Unlike what happened next, which still mystifies me and still makes me smile when I think about it.

Did I mention that besides myself and one other women who was around my age, everyone else in the class was roughly 25? I think I did.

Which means, if you do the math, which was never my strong subject, they were born in 1992, shortly before the turn of the century and all that Y2K hoopla.  Ross Perot announced his run for the Presidency,  Wayne’s World premiered, Madonna was still charting and I was 36 years old.

So I was old, even if I had taken this class in 1992.

After we had finished with Shakespeare and just before I thought we were going to be tossed back into the cold cruel world of Commercial Auditions, with fresh knowledge and roughly 8 hours of newly minted classroom experience, in walked the Man himself.

“What Fools These Actors Be” – K. McHugh

The Man whose name alone had struck terror into the hearts and minds of many, many of my acting compatriots.  The Man whose class, Scott Sedita, my personal Wizard of Hollywood, had recommended to me, along with the words, “If you survive, it will be good for you.”  The Man who presumably had penned the extensive email that had thrown me into a neurotic meltdown of such epic proportions that I will no longer eat at ANY restaurant that is 1) Situated on a corner and 2) Employs Valets.

He walked into class, and started pacing, just like he had done on the video that had featured the Sneaky Canadian Jaret Sacrey, which had lulled me into the false sense of security that would dissolve mere moments after stepping through the doors on the not-so-trendy-and-would-never-be stretch of Melrose Ave in Hollywood.

He began talking, but to be honest, I have no recollection of what he said until he turned on the monitor and I braced myself for what, I wasn’t sure, but thought it would be really, really, really bad.  Perhaps a frame by frame critique of everything we had tried, stumbled through or totally forgotten in our on-camera commercial performances.

Instead he turned on a video of Eartha Kitt, singing “C’mon A My House”.

In Japanese.

Now I adore Eartha Kitt and I could listen to her sing all day, every day.   In 1956, when I was born, she was already 31, so she would have been almost as old to me then as I was to the kids in my Foundation Class, now.  And to the kids in my Foundation Class, well, they were not even born when she appeared as Catwoman in Batman – and I’m talking about the original TV series with Adam West and the Boy Wonder.   Aside from a couple of Disney Animated films in the 2000’s, I am pretty sure that none, if any of the kids in my class knew who they were watching, and perhaps more to the point, why.

I have to admit I was a little confused myself.

“C’mon A My House” is a weird little song, even when it was made famous by Rosemary Clooney, Aunt to George.   It was a weird little song to have become a hit, with a weirder background: written by William Saroyan, a playwright who once refused the Pulitzer prize for one of his plays but did accept an Oscar for one of his screenplays,  and his Armenian Cousin.  Bill married a woman named Carol who eventually divorced him and married Walter Mathau.  What went on in Hollywood in those days I can’t imagine.

Anyway, I remember the song in some movie or some precursor to music videos musical short, I can’t remember which, where Rosemary Clooney played a singer asked to audition with a song written by an Italian – a song nobody else could articulate.  Why they didn’t ask an Italian singer to audition is beyond me, but they brought in an Irish Broad who, in the vernacular of my current profession, nailed it & made the song and herself, famous.   Like many Rap songs today, the title of the song is a phrase that is repeated over and over, with the tag line (songs have them, too) describes what that visitor of the house will receive once they get there.  Because it is supposed to be an Italian song, the visitor, as every Italian knows, gets some kind of food & a Christmas Tree.

“We’ll leave the light on for you.” T. Bodett-A

But that’s not really the point, or might be part of it, I don’t really know.

I guess what I’m trying to say is the song, with its crazy Italian-style lyrics, sounds even crazier in Japanese and even more bizarre sung in Japanese by Eartha Kitt.

I didn’t understand why we watching it, and I’m sure the kids in my class were equally as clueless, but I was pretty sure we were going to get some kind of explanation.

And we were.

My House-A C’mon…

It seems Eartha had seen some troubles in her day.  I was around at that time, maybe 12 or 13, just about entering High School. To my best recollection, she pissed off  Lady Bird Johnson at some White House Event, something I thought would be easy for almost anybody to do.  Our First Lady (courtesy of the JFK assassination)  was called Lady Bird, which should have been a clue, at least to Eartha.   Eartha Kitt was outspoken, a euphemism at the time for I Have A Big Mouth And I’m Not Afraid To Use It.  Quite frankly I think that just having Eartha Kitt at the White House in 1969 was enough to set Lady Bird’s teeth on edge. (And as an aside, Lady Bird was First Lady on a little technicality, so she probably should have had better manners, herself).

Anyway,  the story goes she made Lady Bird cry and Lady Bird told her husband about it, The President Of The Free World.

There was bound to be trouble, and perhaps someone ending up on the business side of a rope, because things were still pretty hairy back then and Lyndon was after all, a Texan.

So Eartha packed up her big outspoken African-American mouth and the lyrics to C’mon A My House and went abroad, learned, if not the Japanese language, as Killian told this story, but at least the phonetic pronunciation of the Japanese lyrics (which is what I think happened).  Not being Japanese (although I am often cast as Asian), I couldn’t attest to their accuracy.

The sum total of my knowledge of the Japanese language

To make a Two Minute story longer, The Very Valuable Lesson we Learned watching this clip, was that no matter what – No Matter What – don’t give up on your dreams.

We all nodded.  None of us were ever going to do that, even if we ever had the opportunity to piss off a First Lady. I, myself, had already started thinking about enrolling in some on-line Japanese Language Class, just in case.

He then said his goodbye and disappeared as magically as he appeared and the spell was broken.  We had come, we had learned and we had been set free.

I had no idea why he chose this overly complicated, convoluted and confusing way of conveying this simple message to us, and I am absolutely sure that the kids in my class were even more confused than I was, but I soon learned why, after graduation from The Foundation Class and my subsequent attendance in The Adult Commercial Class.

And not to give away any spoilers, I’m just going to say that I’m pretty sure Scott Sedita now owes me some serious money – and his little dogs, too.

I’ll Get You, My Pretty…

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Scott Sedita & The Cowardly Lion

This episode is dedicated to Fred Stroppel, the Oscar Wilde of a bunch of wildly funny High School friends called The Fellas, and to the bar named Stroppels, where everybody knew my name. 

If I only had the nerve.

WEEK THREE

Week Three just about did me in, for a number of reasons.  The main reason was having to watch my audition.  I didn’t mind so much that I was not the Funniest Tree in The Forest in Week Two, that’s what class is for, to learn to be better.  What was throwing me was how I looked on camera.

Terrible.  I looked terrible.

Got Apples?

Not to be vain, I’m not bad-looking, even with the gap in my front teeth, made by the removal of multiple wisdom teeth by a dubious dentist who failed to inform me of the consequence of having the rest of my teeth dance around my mouth in joy at the increase of space in my jaw.

I always knew I was a character Actor, so the space really didn’t bother me so much.

What bothered me was the rest of my face on camera.

That just couldn’t be me.  I know my face, I have been looking at it a long, long time.

But watching my auditions in class was agonizing.  Even with my new, and now signature, red cardigan.

As red as Snow White’s Apple

I just couldn’t figure it out, until I actually started watching the other actors on camera and to be honest, they didn’t look that good, either.

They looked better than I did, but that was because most of them were about 25, an age where it really doesn’t take much to look that good.

Believe me, I’ve been there and at 25 I looked a little something like this:

Not bad… for 40

So just to test out my theory, before I quit class and perhaps show business forever, and before I drove back to Scott Sedita’s Studio to abscond with roughly $345 worth of contraband and that chair he is so fond of, to make up for the money I spent on his misguided advice,  I found a little $5 on-camera class in my neighborhood in Burbank and signed up.

It was a simple room.  No fancy soft lights like at Killion’s.  No dark sound-proofing held to the wall by metal hardware cloth, the kind I use extensively to shore up any egress from which my doggies could escape.  No dark blue swirly backdrops, no dark carpeted floor.

This room had fluorescent overhead lights and a pale grey cloth tacked up to the back wall.

And the ubiquitous little camera with a cord connected to the monitor – and I now knew what that meant.

This was a On-Camera Drama Class, but I wasn’t there for the drama.  I just wanted to be able to confirm or deny my sneaking suspicion that something egregious had happened to my face in the 35 years since I had been 25.

Life just hadn’t been that bad. As a matter of fact, all things considered, it had been jolly good.

Not Julia Roberts

The sides we were given were from Erin Brockovich, a picture that won Julia Roberts an Oscar.  I knew I wasn’t Julia Roberts, but neither was Erin Brockovich, so I wasn’t much worried about pulling off the role visually, and a stellar performance was not what I was after.

Although it turned out, I was pretty good because I elicited an emotional response from the audience of my fellow actors.  Just part of the job.

What thrilled me more than anything, was my face.  There it was on the big monitor looking exactly how it looked to me every morning when I brushed my teeth.

No more, no less.

So having dodged that bullet, I knew I would return to Killion’s the following week, which saved me the 75 bucks I would have lost had I quit. Not to mention gas money, which had been quickly adding up.

Actually I started to have a sneaking suspicion that Killion had set up that room specifically to cull any actors who weren’t the most beautiful, if not the brightest.

I think he can be sneaky that way.

The other thing that just about sent me over the edge, was once again, the copy.

It was for Lay’s Potato Chips, a product that will forever (at least in my mind) have the memorable tag line (and you all can say it along with me) “Betcha Can’t Eat Just One”.

He’s not lyin’.

Five words spoken by one actor that can only be compared to “Where’s The Beef?” when it comes to brevity and memorability.

Wendy’s

That’s good writing.

So when I was handed copy that took 30 seconds with 4 actors driving in a car that was so convoluted & tortuous that my brain went into shock and flat-out refused to send any signals to my mouth, I was torn about what to do.

I had to admit I agreed with my brain, but I was into week 3 in this class and was determined to get more out of it than how to be a tree.

Now here’s the sum total of what I know about acting in anything.  

It is always about the relationship.  Because acting is quite a bit like real life and in real life everything is also about the relationship. To be even more precise, it’s always about the love.

Find the love and you will find your audience.

Even if your character is unlovable.  Even if the copy is unlovable.

Like this copy was.

But it was more than unlovable copy, not only was it just plain bad writing,  it was an affront to comedy, comedians, comedy writers and lovers of comedy, because this copy was supposed to be funny.

I know this, because it had a punch line, right at the bottom, where punch lines go.

Some copy ends with a simple tag line, which is different, because a tag line does not have to be funny, even if it is.

But a punch line always has to be funny. Always.

So the set up, the business, the lines before the punch line are extremely important.

This copy was making me crazier than the tree copy, which was marginally funny, because of the tree costume, but had an extremely weak punch line, after which all the trees were supposed to laugh just so everyone else knew it was funny.

But here’s what really bothered me…

I was fortunate enough to be born in 1956, a year where television was just barely out of diapers and when I was just barely out of diapers, I was placed in front of that TV.

There wasn’t a whole lot of programming back then, and stations actually stopped broadcasting at around midnight, complete with a flag waving over the music of the Star Spangled Banner.

beeeeeeceeeeeeeeeeeeeep

And although all of that was a very long time ago, I remember the comics on the variety shows.

These were men and women who had honed their craft in Vaudeville and on Variety stages (a name adopted by a show business newspaper on newsstands to this day) coast to coast. Stages, where if you weren’t funny, they threw things at you, (a behavior adopted as a name by a well-known show business website).

Golden

These comics had survived vaudeville, variety and radio, so by the time they got on TV, they knew what they were doing.

When we weren’t watching them, we listened to them on vinyl records, over and over and over, and the jokes and bits, committed to memory, still made our family laugh.

After the Golden Age of TV, I was also exposed to TV shows like  All In The Family and MASH and The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

I was 18 when Saturday Night Live first aired.

So even if I wasn’t funny, which sometimes I am and sometimes I am not, I still knew what funny was supposed to be.

Two Broke Girls, is not funny.

And neither was this copy.

This copy could only be considered painful.

But my job was to find the relationship and to find the love, so I did.

But my heart wasn’t in it.

It’s a hard call, being an actor just starting out.  You want to take everything that comes your way, if not in the hope that you will actually book the job, but in a far away promise that your audition will at least get you the next audition.

But I am not 25 any more and I can not make those far away promises to myself.

If it had been a real audition and not a class that I had already paid good money to attend, I would have turned in the copy and walked out the door.

I stand on the shoulders of those men and women I watched and listened to and laughed with all my life.

Even though I have never met any of them, I still feel like I owe them, for everything they went through just to make me laugh.

And that’s where my love lies.

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Scott Sedita & Barbara Walters

This episode is dedicated to Sydney Pollack, who did not throw me off the set of “Three Days Of The Condor” after I “inadvertently misinterpreted” the signs posted when they filmed at my college, but instead introduced me to everyone, including Robert Redford and allowed me to stay for the rest of the production.  You changed my life.

WEEK TWO

The second week I drove to class without incident.  It was as if the Traffic Gods had taken pity on me.

I also like apples

My blue sweater, that I loved so much, that I thought I looked so good in, was delivered unto the local Goodwill, in the hope that someone who needed warmth but not on-camera style would be able to use it.  My new beige, cotton audition t-shirt bought at Walmart especially for class had been washed but alas, the Wienerschnitzle spawned chili splotch would not out, d*mn it, so it was relegated to clothes I wore to the ranch to see my horse. He casts no judgement on  my attire, as long as I show up with carrots.

I chose a red cardigan to try this time.  I did not wear it in the car. Instead I wore a button down shirt over a beige camisole, also purchased at Walmart.

Now this may be too much information and it probably is, but under the camisole I wore a brassiere, an article of clothing I think I have worn maybe twice in my entire life.

Right On, Marge

I entered High School in 1969, when we had all started to burn bras.  Not that I really needed one back then, as I was about a 32A.  Honestly, I just could have used band-aids.  So between the fires and the flatness, it just never occurred to me to wear one again.  I might have for some events, but not on a regular basis.

But after watching my “audition” at the first class, I thought a bra might give me a little extra “contour”.  Luckily I had one at the very, very bottom of my lingerie drawer, which is really a basket in the closet and really only holds white cotton bloomers and white cotton socks, which, for me, constitutes lingerie.    But it still fit and the elastic hadn’t worn out, so that was money I didn’t have to spend.

Unlike make-up.

I’ll take two of each, please

Something else I hadn’t worn, except occasionally, since 1969.

After that first class, the second thing I did was drive to ULTA, and throw myself at the mercy of one of those 16-year-old Beauty Experts.

One hundred and Forty Nine Dollars and Fifty Two Cents later,  I was ready for my close up.

I packed bread with cheese, which I could eat in the car without any risk of spills and that I could tear off in small bits to eat during class while we were sitting in the lobby.

I like cheese

I parked in what would become my usually spot on my usual street a few blocks away from the building.  With all the time I had allowed, I changed into my cardigan, at first raising, then dashing the hopes of a handyman who was unloading his pickup truck in the next driveway.

But, Ladies & Gentlemen, I tell you none of this was important. None of it.

Because in WEEK TWO, in class, I auditioned as a TREE.

A TREE.

What would Barbara Walters say?

And here’s the thing…

I don’t think I’m above being a tree. I like trees. Quite a lot.

I have played worse.  The last go-round of me becoming a Working Actor, about 15 years ago, involved a short stint at a Children’s Party Character Company.  I played many things that involved many types of smelly, hot, heavy character costumes.

In this class we were just required to act as if we were trees, no costume required.

But…

But the problem was, when I first read the copy, was my mind immediately went to this:

You were a tomato! A tomato doesn't have logic. It can't move!

(Here’s the whole clip. Worth watching)

And stayed there.

This was all I thought about while I sat in the lobby and read the copy, when I sat in the lobby and memorized the copy, when I went into the room for my first audition, when I went back into the lobby to wait until everyone else had their first audition, when we all trooped back inside to watch our auditions, when we all walked back into the lobby to wait for our second auditions and this was all I thought about during the second audition and the subsequent lobby waiting and room watching.

I just couldn’t get past it.  I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Because it was one of the funniest scenes played by two of the most brilliantly funny actors in a hysterical movie that I have ever seen.  Ok, maybe not ever, but it was funny enough to have stuck in the recesses of my brain for over 35 years.

Which is more than I can say for the copy we were asked to read, as trees.

I don’t think I did very well in WEEK TWO of my COMMERCIAL CLASS, but I didn’t really mind. I’m pretty sure I’m never going to go out to audition as a TREE of any kind, and I really wouldn’t want to.  There’s something about comedy that relies solely on visual content and isn’t backed up by well written context that makes me crazy, like the time I went to the $5 Comedy Class Introduction at LA Oncamera, which I’ll tell you about another time.

And although this class cost me $224.69 – ($71.25 for the class plus $149.52 for make-up plus $3.92 for the camisole), it was money well spent.

I did look great in that Red Cardigan, though, don’t you think?

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Scott Sedita & The Flying Monkey

This episode is dedicated to my friend from our Record Plant days, Randi Greenstein Mitchell, who was generous enough to send me her Mother’s recipe for Chicken Soup, but not generous enough to send me some of her home-made Brisket, which might have changed the course of this episode, and my life, forever. You never know. 

Constructive Critique from The Director

My phone, un-Otterboxed, recovered from imminent meltdown by a 3 minute blast from my car’s air conditioner.  I redressed it, tossed it into my bag, found a place to park, read the signs, twice, rushed to a corner with a light AND a cross walk, narrowly missed getting hit by a car that neglected to stop for either the red light, the painted cross walk or me, ran down the street, threw the Valets at the corner restaurant 5 bucks, so they wouldn’t steal my car out of spite, calmly & professionally walked through the door to The Workshop that was still open (thank God), looked around at the space, which was quite nice, found the sign-in sheet, grabbed the copy and sat down on a very nice Ikea-type royal blue couch and sighed with relief.

The Lady or The Tiger?

I made it to my 1st Class.

Yay, me.

Ok, so here we go.

WEEK ONE

In one of the many paragraphs of the email I was sent prior to the first class, it was suggested that I wear something I might wear to an audition to see what it looked like on-camera.  This seemed like exceptionally good advice.

I don’t know why he would want to wear my audition clothes, but ok.

So I wore my absolutely favorite blue sweater over a beige cotton t-shirt.  Everyone knows blue looks great on camera and I had always thought that I looked really great in this sweater, so it gave me an added sense of security.  Even if I bombed on camera, I would look good doing it.

The copy for the class “audition” was for a credit card company.  It was well written, it made sense, and it had words I was comfortable repeating and a character that was generic enough so that I thought I would be able to be myself on camera.

You know this was written by a credit card company because nowhere does it mention lowering the interest rate, which is the first thing that should happen.

For me, that is always the key.  I have to be able to be myself (or at least make it my own).

I may not be the world’s greatest actor but I am incredibly great at being me. I’ve had a lot of practice and it’s easier than trying to be someone else.

We were all brought into the room and the Very-Nice-Turned-Out-To-Be-A-Canadian-And-Not-A-Mid-Westener-But-Is-Kinda-The-Same-Thing teacher, Jaret, introduced himself, gave us a short lecture about the coming weeks and some instruction on what to do when we were called into the audition, one at a time.  Then we all trooped back out to the lobby.

A View From The Couch

I sat on the Ikea Style Royal Blue Couch,  memorized my lines, was called into the room, said the lines with some accuracy (more or less, ok… less) and returned to the lobby to wait until the rest of the class had their opportunity to audition.

Then we all trooped back into the room for more words of wisdom.

And to watch ourselves on the monitor.

Wait, WHAT????

Nonononononononononononono! My brain screamed inside my head.  NONONONONONONONONO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

There was no way I was going to watch myself on a monitor or anything else.  I don’t like getting my picture taken. I’m not even that fond of looking in a mirror.

I actually thought that they would have the monitor on during the audition, so you could take a fast look at what you were wearing.  I had no idea that they were going to actually tape it, play it back and make you (and the rest of the class, I might add) watch it.  All together.   But that is exactly what they intended to do.

They say Acting is about Choices, so I considered mine.

I had none.

Unless I wanted to quit the class there and then, and after everything I went through to get there and the money I had already spent, which I’m sure wouldn’t have been returned and would have to find a way to get back from Scott Sedita, who had suggested the class in the first place, I would stay and console myself with the thought that at least I would look great in my favorite blue sweater.

I was so wrong. So, so, so wrong.

My favorite blue sweater looked, on camera, as if it was trying to swallow me whole.  All I saw was a huge mass of blue and a tiny little head sticking out of it.

Et tu, Blue Sweater?

Now it might have had something to do with the way I was grasping it tightly closed, to cover the stain on my originally clean, brand new, beige cotton t-shirt, after I stopped at Wienerschnitzle to get something to eat before I left Burbank to drive over the hill.

The class started at 12:30 and I had left the house at 11, hoping to dodge all of the road events that might transpire, and many that actually did.  I knew, because of the email I had been sent, that there was no way I would be able to snack on anything during class (Page 6, Paragraph 4), and while I had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (my favorite) for breakfast, breakfast was served at around 5am because I was usually up at 4am.  So by 11, after I had gotten in my car and started driving, I realized I was starving and had to stop somewhere.  Anywhere, to get something to eat in the car.

Burbank is not big on fast food chains.  I think there might be one of each kind, Taco Bell, MacDonald’s, Wendy’s, but they are spread far, far apart and I didn’t know the town well enough to know where any of them were.  So when I saw a Wienerschnitzle (not my favorite) way across the 5 point intersection I was on, I  pulled a stunt my Driver’s Ed teacher, Mr. Hasen, wouldn’t have been happy with (and thank you fellow classmates & Ms. Salant for remembering his name), pulled in, pulled through and ordered.  I didn’t want a hot dog, which is what they are known for, because I didn’t want to get mustard on my camera-ready audition clothes.  So I got a burger.

“Yonda Lies The Castle Of My Fadda!” – T. Curtis

Turns out their burgers have chili on them.

Hence the stain on my brand-new from Walmart beige, cotton, camera-ready, audition t-shirt.

That I didn’t want to appear on camera at my very first Commercial Class.

So I performed the whole audition clutching my sweater closed to my chest, as if I was having a heart attack.

“Out, out, damn spot.” – W. Shakespeare

It wasn’t a good look for me.  I was so horrified at my appearance, that that was the only thing I remember from my first class. The ONLY thing.

But that’s what class is for, to learn things, and that was what I learned.

Don’t EVER wear that blue sweater again, at any time, under any circumstance.

That lesson cost me roughly $77. 25.  $71.25 for the class and $7.00 for the T-shirt at Walmart.

Money well spent, but money I fully intend to get back from Scott Sedita.  Someday.

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Scott Sedita & The Witch’s Spell

This episode is dedicated to my High School Driver’s Ed Teacher, whose name I can’t remember (although my HS friends probably will), who kept his cool in the car when  I stopped dead in the middle of Glen Cove Road & Northern Blvd., and turned off the car until he agreed we could stop at Burger King.  You were SO underpaid.

I’m falling seriously behind, so I’m going to whip through my first Killian Commercial Class – Foundation, with the very nice not-Mid-Western-But-Canadian-Which-Is-Almost-The-Same-Thing teacher, Jaret.

Just to let you know, I’ve just begun the Adult Class and am now  swimming with the sharks in the deep end of the pool, so if you don’t hear from me for a while, call the Coast Guard and then SAG/AFTRA, in that order.

But before I do, I’m going to tell you about the adventure I had on the way there.

When we last left off, and I hope you at least read that episode, I had gotten a two and a half page email from the Workshop telling me exactly how to get to the class, where to park, how to park, how to walk into the building and a few dozen other instructions that threw me into a spin.

Although I recovered somewhat and left my house early enough to defeat all the myriad of events that could befall me so that I was not late to class, would not be locked out of the building and would not have my car towed and/or stolen by the vindictive Valets at the corner restaurant, I have to tell you that almost everything that could have happened on the road from Burbank to the Workshop in Hollywood, did happen, with the exception of an earthquake.

There was a lot of traffic – way more than usual, the car in front of me got a flat, there was road construction not only in Burbank, but at the Freeway on ramp, the Freeway off ramp and several blocks in Hollywood. There wasn’t a high-speed chase, but there was what is called a Traffic Break, where a CHP office, not Eric Estrada, swoops into traffic and  starts weaving across all lanes, gradually slowing until everyone behind him, including me, is forced to a crawl until whatever needs to be cleared up ahead, is cleared.

As if the traffic needed to go any slower than it already was going.

Is he KIDDING?

Once off the Freeway and on Cahuenga, one cross street was blocked off for an Event and a homeless person decided to put on a show at the stop light at Santa Monica.  He was either pontificating some personal philosophy or rehearsing a monologue from Hamlet, I wasn’t really sure.  I love Street Theater so it was pretty entertaining but by that point I was freaking out as the luxurious extra minutes I had allowed and the internal praise I had awarded myself for leaving extra early were dissipating at a rate only slightly faster than my heart had begun beating. And since I couldn’t run him over and still make it to class on time, I had to wait until he exited Stage Left.

I had plugged in my phone so it wouldn’t run out of battery and turned on Google Maps to get me there because it had been a long time since I had been to Hollywood, (literally and figuratively, I might add) and I didn’t want to concentrate on how to get there but more how fast I could get there.

I vaguely remembered the Workshop being somewhere, much like Krakatoa, east of Highland, an uncompliant street to drive either North or South.   Google Maps, in all her glory, sent me down Cahuenga, a faster street, if it weren’t for the construction and whatever Event had caused part of that street to be closed, and Act Two of Homeless Man Theater.

I  knew to turn right onto Melrose, which used to be trendy but now I’m not sure if it is or isn’t, and even if it still is, this stretch of Melrose never was and never will be, anyway.

Not a Starbucks in sight

I was still in such a state, it didn’t occur to me that the Google Map Girl Voice, who I have dubbed Lucinda, hadn’t exactly instructed me to turn one way or the other.

So by the time I had blown by Java, or Highland and had just about gotten to La Brea, an equally aggravating street to drive North or South, I marshaled whatever presence of mind I had left to look down at my phone.

At that point, I almost slammed into the car in front of me, which would have been game over.

My phone was dying.

Instead of the Google Map Guidance System screen I was hoping to see, I saw this.

I was horrified.  Much like leaving a dog or a kid in a car, I thought I had killed my phone.   My phone that I still owed $345.19 to AT&T, my phone that had all the numbers of anyone I ever wanted to talk to and a few who I hoped to never hear from again.  My phone that held the passwords to every single website I ever had been on, including Killian’s Commercial Workshop. And worse, the address of that Workshop.

A Workshop, it now seemed, I would not be attending.

I quickly pulled over and picked up my phone.  It burned my hand.  This was serious. My phone was dying and I couldn’t even call 911 or ask Google what to do to save it.

I turned it off and starting pulling off all of the outer coverings.  I have an OTTERBOX DEFENDER cover, because I have a horse and that horse lives on a ranch where there are many things that could damage a phone, if dropped, or innocently placed on a bale of hay, for instance.

It had a plastic cover with a built-in plastic screen, a rubber outer cover in a pretty turquoise, because I bought it in Florida, where I had thought I would live forever and so had begun to adopt a more Floridian color palette for my accessories, and it had a removable black plastic clip, so I could keep it on my person always, instead of my handbag, in the most eventual, probable circumstance of receiving THE PHONE CALL regarding one or both of my parents.  Anyone with parents over 80 knows what that phone call is.

“I think you better sit down…”

The point is my phone was way over-dressed, but disrobing it was particularly tricky because Otterbox designed the cover to be resistant to many things, my panicky fingers included.   I knew I had to get to class, but I knew I had to save my phone.

I thought I had thought of everything that could happen during my trip from Burbank to Hollywood, but not this.  Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had developed a sneaking suspicion that Scott Sedita had something to do with this, but that thought would have to wait until I could revive my phone, my journey and my now seemingly short-lived career, in that order.

And the clock was ticking.

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Scott Sedita & The Wicked Witch’s Email

This episode is dedicated to my Tap Teacher, Susie Ewing, an Original Dean Martin Golddigger, who gives me things to do with my feet, so I don’t go around kicking people. 

Ok, I just re-read the email and I’m not sure why it threw me, but it did.  Maybe it was because I had just gotten out of the Little House From Hell and the email reminded me of my Landlady – and not in a good way.  Maybe because, as an actor, I am accustomed to taking direction, almost from anyone but most often from people in a position to direct actors.  Like this man, Killian.

So I’m going to share it with you and you can tell me what you think. Or not.  It really doesn’t matter to me.

Here’s how it started:

MUST READ & REPLY ASAP.

I check my emails twice a day.  Once when I get up around 5am and then again around 5pm.  I just don’t get a lot of emails that need rapid responses.  If anyone really needs to get hold of me, they call, or text.  So when I saw this around 5pm, I got nervous.

WAS I TOO LATE????  Would I be kicked out of class even before I began?  If I did, would I get my money back?  What if I had to tell my Wizard, Scott Sedita, that I didn’t respond in time and now I was blacklisted from EVERY commercial class in Los Angeles!

With great speed, I opened the email and read this.

Suddenly, I forgot that I knew how to drive and how to read.  And how to cross the street.

What madness was this?  I am a New Yorker. From New York.  I grew up reading street signs before I read “Dick and Jane“.  And the MOSTLY part.  What did that mean?  Every other house had restricted parking?  Every third house?  Should I leave an hour earlier than I had planned to give me time to read these signs?  I suddenly forgot my North from South.  Should I bring a compass?  Look for the evening star?

And crossing at a light.  I mean ONLY do so at a corner with a light?  Where might that be?  One block away from the school?  Two blocks away?  A dozen?  In NY, there were lights on every corner.  And if we wanted to cross in the middle of the block, so against the song we were taught as children, on our own heads be it.  In NY, they also do not brake for pedestrians – even if you are in the cross walk with the light with you. But this was no simple suggestion.  This was a COMMAND.

ONLY DO SO!!!

I started to get an idea why my acting peers were so afraid of this man.

We hadn’t even gotten into his class and he was telling us what to do and how to do it.

And by us, I mean me.  A 60-year-old woman, who had just managed to move a car, a household, 3 dogs and a horse across the FREAKING country. And back again in less than a year.  A woman who had moved into a tiny trailer and then into a little house and then into a nice home in Burbank in less than 4 months.

And now this man was telling me how to cross the street.

And not to park with the valet of a restaurant.  In BOLD CAPS.

I started to hyperventilate, and was seriously considering:

  1. Not going to class at all.
  2. Driving to Scott Sedita’s Acting Studio and grabbing his chair and his two white fluffy dogs and holding them hostage until he paid me the money I spent on this class.

But instead, I poured a glass of wine and continued to read:

Ok, the clothes thing was helpful.  I had never seen myself on camera and the thought of modeling audition clothes appealed to me.  And notes… well, I kinda had enough of that in college.  I can honestly say that if I can’t remember what is being said, then it wasn’t important enough to remember.

So I was feeling pretty good.  I mentally started going through my closet to see what I might wear.

The Respectful part and the Professional part of the email just sounded silly.  It’s not as if I was going to bring my tap shoes in and start practicing the 5 step riff I had just learned the week before at my Tap School.  (To be honest, I did practice some of the trickier steps while I was memorizing my sides, but I always wore sneakers.)

And then there was this:

What on earth was a Supply of Water?

A Pint?

A Gallon?

A Bathtub?

Damn

How much water was enough water?  What would we be doing that would require a supply of water?   I usually carried one of those little plastic bottles of water I would buy from the Dollar Store or Walmart or in a pinch, the Gas Station.

I had no idea how much water was in that bottle.

Or if it would be enough.

Enough for the time it took me to read all the parking signs, north and south of Melrose?  Enough for the time it took for me to walk to a corner with a light?  Enough for me to ignore the entreaties of the Valets at the Restaurant I was not going to eat at?  Enough to walk in the building with a sense of respect and professionalism?

Enough to get through class?

Actors/Teachers/Serial Killers

What if those nice Med-Westerny people who were supposed to teach me, weren’t that nice at all?  What if they were going to make us do weird physical things in class to prove we were committed to our craft as Professional Commercial Actors? (it turns out, they did)

And a Non-Glass Container.

In all my hours spent in the Dollar Store, or Walmart or the Gas Station, it never occurred to me to find water in a glass bottle.

I’m not sure they even make them, except for Pellegrino, which, because I am Italian, is always in my refrigerator.    But I was not about to bring a bottle of Pellegrino to an Acting Class – because it’s aqua gassata – and could cause ruttare.

Not something you want happening in a love scene.

Unless it’s a comedy.

I poured another glass of wine and contemplated the Restricted Area.

This was going to be difficult for me.  Very difficult.  Very, Very difficult.

Because as you, and Scott Sedita, must know by now, the only signs that have any effect on me whatsoever is “Stop” and “Hot Set”.

“Restricted” is one of those signs that are open to interpretation.

And if food is involved, I can tell you right now, I’m not going to pay any attention to it.

I just sort of hoped that there would be enough of the right kind of food to offset the cost of the class after I was undoubtably asked to leave. Like Caviar. I like Caviar.

We often run over.

Now he tells me.

After he has taken my money. All $285 dollars of it.

Why couldn’t he have said that in the class description?

My horse waits for me at 2:30 at the fence every day.  I give him a treat as I drive in.  I park and walk him from the pasture across the arena to his stall.  It is our time.  I groom him, which he tolerates or we go for a short ride, which he tolerates. He expects to see me and unless I tell him I’ll be late, I never want to disappoint him.

I cannot call him.  I cannot text him.

Where have you BEEN???

I know that he will be waiting there, his head hanging over the fence.  I know he will be waiting for the sound of my car.  I know he will be waiting for as long as it takes for me to show up.  It is a 30 minute ride from Melrose to my horse’s ranch.  Not including the amount of time it would take me to get from the school to where ever I parked my car. If it hadn’t been towed. Or stolen by those Parking Valets out of spite.

I don’t want that image in my head as we ran over time in class.

 

And then there was Door Thing.

This man Killian, with the backwards shoes, would LOCK THE DOOR at 12:10.

I’m pretty sure I have told you, and if you don’t remember maybe you should also start taking notes, but I am never late for anything, ever.  As a matter of fact, I am usually always 10 minutes early, which, for me, is on time.

It’s a Theater thing.

Once when I was late – the only time I was late for a rehearsal – I was made to apologize individually to each member of the company for being  late.  And then apologize  to the entire company for making them later while I was apologizing to them individually for being late in the first place.

I was 14.

And did not drive.  You can conclude what you like from that.

But the lesson, however harsh sounding, stuck.

I have never been late for anything again.

I panicked as I imagined myself desperately trying to find NORTH from SOUTH on Melrose.  Checking to make sure I had a precise Supply of Water.  Making sure the bottle would NOT BREAK INTO TINY SHARDS.  Reading Restricted and Semi-Restricted Parking Signs.  Finding a Corner that Had A Light.  Ignoring the financial pleas of desperate but not necessarily legal Valet Attendants.  Repeating to myself that Restricted meant the same thing as Hot Set. (“Not really”, the voice in my head answered.) PLANNING AHEAD FOR TRAFFIC!!!

How do you DO THAT????

Traffic is fluid, if not fluctuating on a moment to moment basis.

All it takes is one second to change everything.  One second.  Maybe even less.

My travel time, according to Google Maps, was 34 minutes.  Any accident would cost me maybe another 30 minutes to an hour.  A flat might cost me 60 minutes.  A high-speed chase might cost me 2 hours.

Some people have no respect for actors.

Don’t laugh.  In LA we have more high-speed chases than flat tires.

So, since I didn’t wanted to be standing outside 6107 Melrose Ave at 12:11 pm, sobbing and banging on the doors while the Parking Valets at the Restaurant on the Corner pointed at me with laughter, I thought about leaving for class around 9am.

That would give me about 3 hours, barring any earthquakes, to get to class before the doors were locked, my mortification complete and my fledgling career over before it had begun.

I sighed with relief at my travel plans and continued reading.

This was highlighted on the email, so I knew it was important to read. Extra Important.

It seemed simple enough.  And just in case I wasn’t sure how simple it was, the email told me how simple it was.  Just hit the reply button on the email.  I knew how to do that.

SIMPLY REPLY!!

And that’s when it hit me.

The man, this man Killian, thought I was simple.

As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that he thought all actors were simple.

Perhaps even his nice, mid-westerny, Actors/Teachers/Serial Killers.

Why else would he compose this 2 page email to send out to all his students, who had somehow managed to come up with $285 dollars to attend a class (without his instruction), who had figured out how to get to his website to begin with (also without his instruction), navigate it (ditto), find a class (ditto), pay for the class (ditto, ditto) and ostensibly get on with the life they were living, if he didn’t think they were incapable of getting to that class unless he instructed them how to do it – every step of the way.

Ok, to be fair, maybe this man called Killian had some catastrophic  experiences in the past to have caused him to compose such an email.

Maybe one of his students had once misread a parking sign.

Alternate side of the roof parking

Maybe a student had once used the Valet Service with unfortunate results.

Just leave the keys with me.

Maybe a student became a little dehydrated in class.

Is it hot in here or is it just me?

Maybe a student had once brought in something more than a granola bar.

Pass the salt, please.

And maybe a student had something else more important to do at 2:01 pm.

How to Pay For Acting Classes

The point is, and I realized this after having to breath into a paper bag to stop hyperventilating,  I know how to do all of the things required by Killian, not because I am an actor, nor because I have also been well-educated, but simply because I am an adult.

And because I am an adult, this last and final part of the email made me laugh.

After writing a 2 page email, stipulating every detail of the journey you would need to know to drive to his class, park for his class, walk to his class, and every behavior compulsory to attend this class; with BOLD CAPS and UNDERLINES and HIGHLIGHTS and ASTERISKS and DOUBLE AND TRIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS, it ends with a simple “u”.  See u soon.

So I hit “reply”, typed “k” and hit “send”. 

I let out a sigh of relief and began breathing normally again.

I don’t think this man called Killian is as scary as people seem to think.  I think he’s just a little crazy.  Maybe as crazy as my ex-Landlady at The Little House From Hell, who was also a teacher (and had two Masters, if you recall).  Maybe a little crazier, I don’t really know and I didn’t really care.

I was going to that class and I was going to have as much fun as I could possibly have and learn as much as I possibly could at the same time.

And then I was going to figure out how to kidnap Scott Sedita’s dogs.

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