DAY #1 THE AUDITION
I have a Paid Audition (thank you Unions!) with a Hit TV Comedy Director who used to be on a 90s Sci-Fi Show. He is famous if you watched that show, but I didn’t & never heard of him. He is open and friendly. Yay. There are 9 guys auditioning for 3 roles and whoever is picked plays opposite Secret Agent Man Lead Star who is Charmingly Adorable (evidently a Spying Prerequisite). I like the odds…particularly since 5 of the guys are 15-20 minutes late, drenched in sweat & panting when they arrive in a frantic panic. Too bad boys. The 2nd AD says “Better Late Than Never” and makes those guys go first. Ha ha. Feel free to quote me…Karma’s a Bitch, ain’t it fellows? They immediately go down in flames and are dismissed. 4 auditions left & Baby needs milk.
My turn. Mr Nice Director talks me through the scene (“Subtle” was not in his vocabulary). It is a silent bit where Cute Secret Agent goes on many job interviews to get “real” work. All the Personnel Guys he meets realize too late they are in danger & get killed by Chaos Bad Agents (including Poison Blow Darts to our Necks…tell me you love this). My Big Death Scene is rather broad (unless you consider me falling off a staircase delightful French Farce). I get a big laugh and am told “John they loved it you’re Hired! You other guys go home.”
DAY #2 THE SHOOT
Wardrobe Team compliments this Classic Grey Pinstripe Suit my Mom bought me years ago. The 2 other guys hired seem fine. One looks like John Candy and the other is an Asian American I will call “Baxter”. He is mid-30s totally Nerded out & says he is a “New York Actor”. Yesterday Baxter ended his audition fawning over the Director’s former Sci-Fi Series. That is a No No Baxter (& is considered rather unsophisticated). He knew it too & said “It just slipped out” & I replied “I hate when that happens.” It didn’t matter because he got the job, right? Today he will break several more Background Performer Cardinal Rules. Immediately after “CUT” he asks the Director for a picture taken of them together…and is turned down. No No Baxter.
Both these guys turn out to be brilliantly funny during their shoots. Mine goes very well too but I am only pretty funny (hey…pretty funny is still pretty funny, right?). I said “Right?” Fortunately they hired me for my dying shtick and I manage to kick over everything on the desk and fall out of my chair when the dart hits me. Stuff flew up and people behind the camera were surprised & laughed during the film roll. I literally fell on my ass. “CUT!” I got applause from the crew and The Director slapped me on the back and said “Thanks for taking one for the Team!” I gave them the big finish I was hired for. Let’s pray the Editor uses my desk finale stuff and doesn’t include any of my 3 Takes pretending to throw up. Please please please let them include the other 2 guys vomiting before they keel over from their dart seizures & not me! Yes I had to do it because of my deep artistic integrity (also I do what I am told). They say “Barf” & I say “How high?”
Later, signing our Contract Vouchers, we were happily surprised to find we got an “ADJ” (‘Adjusted Featured Bump’ = more cash). Well earned I assure you. While changing out of our suits, the John Candy type said he’d seen me arrange all the stuff on the Desk before my Shoot and wondered what was going on. I had set it up while the Camera Crew was working because I knew I’d kick everything over and needed things to be near the edge so it would all fly around. Nice to have my prep noticed. We all ran into the Star again on our way out. He shook our hands and said “You Dudes were really funny! Nice working with you.” He was a real Gent…who runs outside to smoke like a stack after almost every scene (sorry truth hurts).
We finally get driven in Golf Carts to parking across the Studio Lot and Baxter screams at a Talk Show Host passing by “I follow you on Twitter!” No No Baxter…
Watch my Dad…Ben Starr’s Emmy Television Legend interview:
Stuff Shot here: GOLDDIGGERS OF 1935, ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, NOW VOYAGER, MILDRED PIERCE, YANKEE DOODLE DANDY, CASABLANCA, FANTASY ISLAND & POLICE WOMAN