Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Humiliation

I finally have a commercial audition tomorrow and I've been told I need to wear a bathing suit. OH SHIT!!

What to do, besides losing 5 pounds overnight? I guess I'll have to go in and put my best skinny face on.

I actually did a couple of commercials in a bathing suit, and I looked fat and out of shape. Why do they cast me? Just to humiliate me?

That's it. It's a huge conspiracy by the casting people to humiliate me. I knew it!!

Last week, I had an audition for a Japanese chef. This was for a phone company, I think.

Man, I'm stinking in terms of callbacks and bookings this year. Must be a slump I'm having. I haven't booked a big job or even a little one, for that matter. Just print jobs. That's it. And I haven't booked one of those in several months.

Just wish I could book something where I don't have to wear a bathing suit.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Got Greedy

So yesterday after the show, Aaron, our instructor, gave me and the two girls some notes about our performance. He mentioned that I was doing what I usually do: think too much.

But I have to say that, yesterday, I wasn't thinking too much. I was purely just enjoying the moment. I was present, the audience was there with me. I couldn't ask for a better drug. Okay, so I overindulged a bit at times. I got greedy for it.

Today, my friend said that Aaron told her I was "great." HA! Didn't know I was "great." But damn, if that ain't a nice thing to hear every once in a while.

A Good Show

Yesterday, I performed live in front of a young and, at first, difficult audience. And I had a good show. Not a great show, but a good one.

Personally, I'll take a hundred good shows over one great show, because that, in my book, equals greatness.

I did a couple of improv skits with two girls from my class. The show was called Tuesday Night Cafe and it happens twice a month outside the entrance to the East West Players Theatre. Next door is a cafe that serves food and beer, so I guess that's where the cafe part comes in.

We were the first ones on. I mean, do you know how tough that is? Fortunately, I was so in the present moment, I didn't have time to think about anything. And I realized that that was the definition of a good show for me: just being in the present moment. It's easy to get out of that, too. You make one stupid comment and the comment starts to replay in your mind, and then you're fucked. Might as well call it a night.

One of the girls I performed with has a tendency to argue and raise her voice on stage, no matter what we're improvving. The other can just stop right in the middle because she's uncomfortable or too self-conscious. I often talk about sex, which tends to be my crutch. So, we ended up doing three skits, and in each one, we talked about sex. The girl who gets self-conscious got a bit self-conscious during one skit, but I managed to keep the audience in on the fact that I was aware of it also.

The other girl argued and raised her voice during one skit, but I managed to make my interaction work with it. And I really think that because the audience was young and, at first, difficult, the fact that she raised her voice and argued really got their attention. So, in short, that worked too.

But you can't do good, entertaining improv unless you stay in the moment. I had a good show. I hope to have 99 more just like it.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Community Service Award

Cold Tofu just got a community service award from the Nisei Week Foundation. There was an awards dinner last night in Little Tokyo at the New Otani Hotel. (For the those of you outside of L.A., "New" is part of the hotel's name.) I went and had a great time with some other Cold Tofuers, most of whom are either a core member or in the lab class, which comes after level three.

I know it all seems like another bureaucracy, but it's really a combination of that and a meritocracy. There are people who have a serious desire to improve themselves through improv, but probably shouldn't be on stage in front of an audience. If powers of authority like you and you've gone through the Tofu system, you might be asked to be an associate. Which means you're being groomed for the core group.

I love the bureaucratic system. It's really an easy system to both enter and climb, as long as you play along with the rules. I wanted to be a DJ at one of my college's many radio stations. You would apply for a timeslot, but on the application form, it said that those who did volunteer work would be favored for a slot. This actually translates to: If you don't do the grunt work, you're not getting a slot.

The first time I applied, I didn't get a spot. The second time I applied, I had done some grunt work such as cleaning the studio, and got a prime Friday night spot from 10 pm to 2 am. ( On a side note, four hours is a long time to be playing music. Especially if you don't like most of the station's music selection. I had my friends send me tapes of good R&B, and I actually developed a following among my school's football players and some girls in the Hawaii club. In fact, they'd often call to request a song.)

It seems every theatre group has some sort of bureaucracy, and that drives a lot of my actor friends crazy. They don't want to do what they consider bullshit. But I think that's why they got into acting in the first place: They couldn't deal with office bullshit, which tends to be, yes, bureaucratic. Consequently, I see them always on the fringes of the acting community, but never having a sense of community or belonging.

The point of all this is that, yesterday, after 13 years in L.A., I've finally found a sense of community and belonging. It's a wonderful thing, and something I haven't felt since living in South Central where my neighbors actually cared if I was alive, or had eaten dinner.

But this also means that the wanderlust in me will probably strike again. And then I'll leave the nest, and find another home in the world. It's just something I tend to do. Lately, I've been thinking about France. Then again, it might just be the Groundlings.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Absurdity of It All

Just about every afternoon at work, I have this Rosencrantz & Gildenstern-like conversation with the traffic manager, whom proceeds to ask me if I will come in a half hour early.

I then proceed to say, "Sure, I can do that. No problem."

She says, "Are you sure you can get up?"

"Absolutely. In fact, I wouldn't mind getting off work early tomorrow anyway. So what time would you like me to come in? 8:30, 9:00, 9:30."

And she says, "9:00 would be lovely."

To which I answer, "9:00 it is." And each day, I arrive at around the same time: 9:45, give or take 5 or 10 minutes. Later, the traffic manager will ask me, "What happened to 9:00?" And I'll answer something like, "I tried. I really did. But there was too many cars on the road. It just wasn't happening."

And she proceeds to say, "Why do I even bother asking you to come in early?" But every afternoon, she comes into my office, asking if I will "please come in early."

I hate to disappoint her. She seems so sincere about the urgency. But frankly, and this is so not Rosencrantz & Gildenstern, but I really don't give a damn about what time I come in. I don't say that, but the traffic manager already knows that about me. And so every day, we have that stupid little exchange, and it all seems to be a perfect part of our stupid daily lives.

Level 3

Just started the Cold Tofu Level 3 workshop yesterday. It was a small turnout -- about 5 people -- but apparently the entire Level 2 class except for one person is returning. Plus, we gained one guy from a different class.

All in all, it was a fun class. Did some new exercises. But not much to report, except that I got to do some of my characters due to someone suggesting that my character in a scene had schizophrenia. And that my specific kind had to due with multiple personalities. I only got through three, but it was fun to do and the audience (the rest of the class) seemed to enjoy it.

Afterward, we went to Little Tokyo for a quick bite to eat, and on my way there, I ran into some folks I did a movie with last year. They were all gathered at a place called Cosmos, which is a Japanese karaoke bar. (I wanted to say it was a Japanese dive bar, but that's only how it looks from the outside.)

After my quick bite with my classmates, I rejoined the cast and crew of the movie and proceeded to drink too much beer and talk way too much about my personal life. I had drank so much, I had to get food, so ended up staying out till past 2 am, and this on a "school night." So much for getting in work early tomorrow.

Monday, August 08, 2005

It Was Kinda Weird

So I just got home from my audition for Chevy. I played a construction guy and there were three other guys in the room with me. The casting guy says, "This is real easy. I'm just gonna ask you a question and I just want you to give me a short 5-second answer."

Sounds easy enough. He asks the first guy what he's gonna do in a heated situation: Start a fight or talk his way out of it. "Talk my way out of it. Of course!"

Then he turns to me. What did you do on Saturday?

I said, "Saturday? I went to a BBQ with my improv group and for some reason, this guy sits on my lap and gives me this wet ear kiss. It was kinda weird..."

The three guys around me start to shuffle in their feet. The casting guy turns to his co-worker and says, "I think you shoulda went to that BBQ." The audition continues with two more questions to the other two guys, and then we're done.

On the way out, I say to the other guys, "Hope I didn't weird you out with that story." They didn't say much.

So I'm driving home and start to do what every actor does: replay the audition over in my head. At first, I'm kinda troubled by what I said. I mean, that's kind of an odd thing to say in a Chevy audition for four construction workers.

But then I start to think about some of Chevy's commercials and there's that one really popular one with the guy singing a country tune in a truck with his buddies, but the song lyrics are from the perspective of a woman. "I feel like a woman. Whoo!" So the other guys are weirded out by it.

And then I start to think that what I had said couldn't have been scripted much better. And that the reaction on the other guys' faces must've been priceless. So I probably helped the casting guy out by getting a reaction he may have been looking for.

And then I'm driving home, thinking that if I didn't actually go to a BBQ last weekend with my improv class, that guy wouldn't have sat on my lap and given me a wet ear kiss.

Summer Slumber

Apparently, the summer is a very slow time for commercials and whatnot. Today, I'm having my first commercial audition in about a month. This one's for Chevy and I'm going in as a manly construction worker. Simple enough, except I just got this short haircut and I look about 10 years younger than usual. Hopefully, by the time of my audition, I will have grown some shadow on my face.

Of course, I didn't get this call until I had already gotten to work, so I'm not exactly dressed as a construction worker. Gee, I hope they watch a lot of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

No Bahamas

I didn't get cast as an extra for the Pirates of the Caribbean film. Well, actually, I didn't even go to the open call. =D My friend called and gave me a head's up on the whole scene at around 10 am that day, an hour before they were to officially start. He said he was told that if you were Asian, you would most certainly have to shave off the front part of your scalp.

Yeah, I know that sounds extreme, but it's not that bad. It's a "coolie" thing, as in the coolies that worked on the railroads in the late 1800s to early 1900s. They basically had this long pony tail that extended from where their head was shaved back about a third to halfway from their forehead.

You know, it might even become a fashion trend after this movie comes out. Who knows? Well, it probably won't. And I thought about that for about, oh, 15 seconds. I asked my friend the same question.

"Are you going to do it?"
"I don't think so."
"I didn't think so. I don't think I will either."
"Okay, see you around."
"Bye ... and thanks for the head's up."

So, no trip to the Bahamas. But you know, I would've just shaved my head after the movie ended. That's not so bad. I actually want to try that anyway. But, oh well, a lot was decided in those 15 seconds. But see? Fate can be determined in a very short amount of time. I could've went. They could've taken a picture, then decided they wanted me to have a few lines. Then those lines could've became a very important scene. And then I could've asked Mr. Depp why he didn't sing "Pure Imagination," or some updated version of it, in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Gosh, my life could've been so much different, if only I had decided that I would shave my scalp.

Okay, time to eat my organic vanilla-flavored yogurt with apples and granola now.