things, I'm an actor. But I have a secret: I hate actors.
kind of a blanket statement. I should say I hate *most* actors. There's a
certain kind of actor that I hate. That "always on, always funny, always
performing" type of actor. We all know people like that, don't we? Loud.
Constantly needs to be the center of attention; the life of the party. Being a
showbiz guy, I'm around people like this *all the time.*
Ok, it's no
secret that *all* actors are needy for attention and approval. That's why we do
it. Hell, that's why bloggers blog. But there is quiet,
put-yourself-out-there-and-hope-people-like-you narcissism (me) and
in-your-face!, look-at-me!, I'm-a-star! narcissism (them).
course. You knew it was coming.
I go to my
voice-over agent, ICM, just about every morning. If you're in The Industry (or
watch Entourage), you know that this agency is the real deal. As such, there
are lots of talented, successful actor-types in every day. The typical morning
goes like this:
Immediately run into their kitchen for FREE and DELICIOUS coffee.
3. Sit in
the green room until an agent notices you.
your scripts for the day. (1, 5, 10 scripts... random)
6. Wait to
be called and directed into one of four voice booths to read your copy.
the script and sit back down, reading and waiting to be called to do the next
9. Go back
to Step 6 until you have no more copy left.
your cup of FREE and DELICIOUS coffee.
at the hand-written sign in the kitchen that says, "Refreshments are not
to be taken home!"
it were only that simple.
above steps wages a raging battle of mindless chatter and witless banter. An
ebb and flow of comic one-upsmanship that is relentless to the point of maddening.
are some voice-over people who can only speak in their “voice-over voice.”
Thus, there are several men who rather than say, “Good morning, AJ”,
greet you with a deep and resonant: “In a
world on the edge of time... One man, alone in a bustling metropolis... An epic
battle of good versus evil. It’s AJ.”
of comedians (and former comics) in there as well. “Look at these walls. How
blue are these walls? If anal sex with a priest were a color, it would be this
blue right here. And what about this tray of cookies? Who baked these? Alton
Brown’s arch-nemesis from the Food Network’s bizarro alternative universe? Nice
sandals, Walter. Who are you? Jesus? The last time I saw feet like those there
was a tag on the toe.”
most part, all of these people are very nice, very intelligent and very talented
people. Really, they are. But they don’t know how to TURN IT OFF.
chatting with Josh, my manager’s *superhuman* assistant. Josh told me
that one of the things they like about me is that I’m not ALWAYS ON. That’s not
a skill, people. That’s good manners.
won’t say when, lest she be reading), I was trapped in a voice booth with an
actress. We had finished reading our copy and were exiting when she began “riffing”
on the director. Fine. Make with your funny, let’s get outta here, I got 7 more
scripts to get to.
went on and on… funny voices… witty observations… clever anecdotes… none of
which were funny or witty or remotely clever.
can I do?
I have to
stand there with this big fat smile on my face. I’m not going to just walk out.
I’m not an asshole like that. I can’t really laugh because, frankly, I'm not that good of an actor.
She went on
and on. And I can see that the director is wearing the same Bozo-esque smile
that I’m wearing. She's dying to get this lady out of the booth so she can get readings from the 30 actors behind us and get the tape off to the client and then go pee or get coffee or call her boyfriend or whatever: LET'S GO.
people realize this? When I go off on a tangent or tell a story that’s a tad
too long (like this one), I can start to read the faces of my audience. I’ll
suddenly say, “I’m rambling on and on, I’m sorry.” Yeah, you do that, too! Of course you do! You're normal!
But people who are always on can’t do that. They can’t see it. They just have
to perform their shtick.
knows that old comedy saying: “Leave them wanting more.”
conversation I have with an actor leaves me wanting less.*
(Present company excluded: Shane,Wil and anyone I work with at ICM who may read this)
Well, I've got a final cut of my hosting reel which you can view here, if you care.
It was really tough coming up with this edit because I am a *control freak*. I want to write my own stuff, perform it, direct it, edit it, score it myself, etc. Obviously, there are better people than me at *each* of those things. But that's how I am. I'm the older child. I want to always be the boss.
That's why I can't can't thank Gino enough for helping me shoot the footage. I'm difficult. But I was [mostly] on my best behavior with him. Besides, I picked up almost all the tabs.
Anyway, I presented Rick (my manager) with my rough cut on Thursday. Naturally, I thought it was done. It ran five-and-a-half minutes. We watched it and he gave me a page of notes and edits.
You mean it's not done? It's not brilliant??
So, I spent *ALL* of Thursday night editing.
Friday morning, I woke up to another email full of notes.
A few last notes.
It was really hard to make the changes emotionally. I put in what *I* thought was funniest. I had slick transitions from piece to piece. I chose a great soundtrack. I timed scenes to the music. I hit song posts twice for emotional impact. I thought my piece placement was perfect.
When I came out to LA, I had the opportunity to work with several managers. Some of whom promised me great things. When I met Rick, he promised nothing. He promised to "take me up a level." What level that was would be up to me.
I liked that. It felt honest, but also optomistic. It felt real. So I went with Rick.
Another thing I like about Rick is that he's a former stand-up comic. I'm also a former stand-up. So we can speak to each other using the same language.
I can tell him that "I think this piece really showcases my voice", and he'll know what I mean. He can tell me, "move this scene earlier in the reel because a good joke is either recognition or surprise or both", and I'll immediately get it.
When writing a joke, the hardest part is keeping the set-up short. And when I write, I choose EVERY WORD SPECIFICALLY. (aside: I do *not* do that here. On my blog, I ramble and brain dump). So with a joke set up: "anything that doesn't add, takes away." So, my transitions didn't add: out they went.
We took out some of my more "sexual" humor and replaced it with my softer stuff: pieces that would showcase likability and vulnerability.
I trusted him. I took the notes and did every single edit without question. Even though inside I'm saying: "NO! Not the elevator bit! That's hysterical!"
Cut. Cut. Cut.
This final reel is not as flashy. But I think it does capture my voice, show my range and showcase my skills without being repetitive.