Day: June 4, 2011

Two Thumbs Up

I have 15 minutes today. I’ve decided that Saturdays will be my good show experience review day.  Today I’ll write what I can and pick it up next week.

I’d been in hundreds of scripted shows and musicals. I’d written several. I’d directed student shows and musicals for ten years.

This sketch show, a product of the 6th level writing students at Second City (usually called a W-6 show), was going to be a very different kind of audition.

Back when I was in the improv program, we would see the posters for the W-6 shows in the lobby where we nervously oh-so-casually hung out before our first level classes.  Our Level B instructor (a name you’d recognize if you have ever sniffed around the improv world, even accidentally) encouraged us on the first day to audition for the next round of shows.

“Auditioning is always good experience. If nothing else, you’ll know what to expect when you audition for the conservatory.”

We all loved this instructor. He was and is manically positive, the kind of person who listens voraciously to whatever you say and seems to really give a damn about all the trivial stuff that spews out of people’s mouths. He also is one hell of an instructor. He pushed us in class to uncomfortable limits and gave us all a sense that we were budding stars.

Gung ho, we all marched up to the office during our class  break and signed up for audition slots.  Instructor, walking in from stealing a smoke during break,  caught me by the crook of the arm as I went back to class.   “Did you sign up?” he asked with his usual twinkle-eyed smile, head cocked to one side.

“Yes,” I said.

“Good. Good. You should be doing those shows. You really have a gift for acting.”

As most people are when complimented, I was flying the rest of the night. Whether he was being super kind or actually thought that about my skills — doesn’t matter.  He and I had a similar approach to teaching — catch people doing what they love to do, catch people doing something well.  Compliment honestly, specifically, and without hesitation.

It works. Try it sometime. Tell your barista his frappi-mocha-icey-latte-mega-whatever (I’m a Dunkin Donuts gal, sorry) that he makes it just a little bit better than any other Starbuckeroo.

Ya know, if indeed that’s true. Otherwise, you’re just a lying liar who drinks coffee.

There’s not much you can do to research an audition for a sketch show, particularly for sketch shows that haven’t been finished yet.  I did know a few things:

1. The audition begins the second you step foot in the building.

2. It’s not personal.

3. It feels personal.

4. The auditors look for things you can’t second guess, so don’t waste energy trying.

5. Wear comfortable underpants.

6. Be polite.

7. Shut up in the waiting area.

8. Don’t hold back.

9. Don’t let ’em see you sweat.

10. Yeah, I don’t have a #10, but when’s the last time a good list had only nine things? If 10 is good enough for Cecile B. DeMille, it’s good enough for me.