Be warned, this is going to be a long one. This is the longest travelogue yet. Longest to write, longest time to write (a span of a couple days) and longest in length. So grab the beverage of your choice or maybe even bring a light snack if you’re a slow reader.
The weekend started on Friday night when we went to see “Knocked Up” with our friends Ben and Beth. What a hysterical movie. From the guys that brought you “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, this was funny, and you’ll quote lines from it forever. While sometimes sophomoric and silly, the movie was real and you wanted to care about the characters. Watching the movie made me thing the only thing worse would be twins, I guess.
Saturn brought the return of my driver. With my travel schedule being so crazy, I’ve been coming in too late on Sundays for her to pick me up so I’ve been parking at the airport. Since this trip was going to be an extended stay, she could take me and pick me up Tuesday.
I had to fly out on stand by to ensure I made my 8:00 The Amigo Friends show that night. Thanks to my frequent travel, I had the upgrades to go first class. A very nice gentleman named Ben Fisher sat next to me and we talked about his 2 adopted Russian daughters and his job setting up wind power for 3rd world countries. He was a nice guy with some incredible travel stories, and I enjoyed getting to talk to him on the flight out.
Celebrity sightings in traffic on the way to my show: Mindy Serling (Frau Farbisina from “Austin Powers”) and Mos Def.
The Amigo Friends show was INCREDIBLE. It was definitely our tightest show yet. The intro was great, we were finishing each other’s sentences, and setting each other up for great jokes and lines. I remember standing backstage and thinking we had done so much that the show had to be nearing the end, but we had only been on stage 12 minutes and had 15 more to go. All I could do was smile and know that the show was going so extremely well. Thanks to everyone that came out to see us.
After us, the Engagement Party put on a stellar half hour show opening for the Second City Alumni show, “Edmund Serves Coffee” which was beyond the imaginable. This week’s Alumni included Scott Adsit from NBC’s “30 Rock”.
After the alumni show, we all went around the corner to local hangout Boardner’s. There was probably 20 of us there, spread out over 4 tables. I was deep in conversation with fellow Amigo Friends Jason and Mike about the show business catch 22 – “talent vs. competition”. The thought being that there is no real model on what to do, or any correlation between taking classes and how people advance their careers or how things break for people. At that precise moment exactly, Jeff Greenspan from the Engagement Party comes over to sit with us. He mentions he sold a commercial script and that the producers are looking for improvisers with NASCAR knowledge. He asks which one of us has NASCAR knowledge and I am the only one to raise my hand. He asks me if I’m pulling his leg and i explain that living in Dallas there is a track nearby so I’m at the very least familiar enough to improvise my way through any audition. I had to reiterate that point because when he heard “I live in Dallas” he was blown away that I would travel in every week for class. Jason and Mike corroborated my story, added some kind words of their own and then next thing I know, Jeff is calling the producer of the spots to arrange that I audition. Jason nods to me with a look as if to acknowledge the timing of how that whole thing went down. What could have been 3 guys competing for a maybe based on a friend of friend, turned into 2 guys supporting me to the writer. If either one of those guys felt they knew enough about NASCAR to audition, I would have backed them up as improvisers without a second thought. Thank you Jason and Mike for your support and true life example of our “talent vs. competition” discussion..
Sunday’s class brought character work. My teacher, Craig wanted us to pick a personality quirk or character trait from someone you know that bothers you. I used a version of my sister Kelly who will send me a text message, then immediately call me to see if I got it. Of course, for it to be funny, it involves amplifying the trait and making it completely ridiculous as if every text message carried a life threatening message.
After class, I got a call from Jerry, the producer of the aforementioned NASCAR spots. We had a 10 minute conversation about the spots and my NASCAR knowledge. I told Jerry my headshot and reel were on my website so he could get more info about me, I was definitely interested in the project and that he can call me if he was interested after seeing my website.
After hanging up with Jerry, I called my driver to fill her in on the potential project while driving to some athletic shoe store on Fairfax. I have no idea what the name of it was, but I call it Mecca. Ho. Lee. Cow. Those of you that know me, know my affinity for shoes, and this place was breathtaking. Yes, a shoe store was breathtaking. So much so that my driver hung up on me because she could hear that I had checked out upon coming 6 feet from the entrance of the most awesome shoe store ever. I got out empty handed, but I’m not sure how.
That night, my classmate Tiffany Kartalian was performing at The Improv on a bill with Louis CK and Gene Pompa and she rocked. It was worth the hour and half wait for the show to start, and then she didn’t come on until 3/4 of the way through. I grew up watching “A Night At The Improv” on tv so to see a friend on stage performing was very, very cool for me. Congrats again to Tiffany.
Monday brought lunch with Todd. We were getting caught up on our individual projects when my agent calls to let me know I had secured an audition for the NASCAR project on Tuesday at 11:00 am. Great news, only thing is that my flight out is at 6:00 am so I would need to make some travel changes to make the audition (a no-brainer). I was also going to have to stay an extra night with my brother-in-law Tom instead of with Page, who lives by the airport, as previously planned. What a good problem to have.
After lunch I went over to the Beverly Center to get some clothes for the audition (and I packed a day short on shirts). While there I saw Terrence Howard at Louis Vitton.
From the BC, I went around the corner at 4:30 for my meeting with the Buchwald Agency. A friend of mine that I helped with a website is a client of the Buchwald Agency, and got me a meeting with his agent in return for the website help. While waiting in lobby, Jerry the producer of the NASCAR spots, called me again with more details on the spots He saw my reel on my website, and really liked it. I had the smart delivery they wanted, and he was now emailing me the new scripts and character background. I was going to be walking into the audition with more information that the other actors because the producer felt that comfortable with what he saw from my reel, making me feel good. Before I knew it I was brought in to meet with Neil Bagg who was a very, very nice guy. Our meeting lasted over 45 minutes and went well. The result of the meeting was that Neil was going to take my packet in front of group Wednesday morning and I was supposed to call for their decision Wednesday. Even if it doesn’t happen, it was a great opportunity and I am very appreciative to Neil for his time.
From the Buchwald Agency it was back to Sherman Oaks for sushi at Whole Foods and a planned workout after printing out scripts. Sounds simple enough, but for the next 2 hours, I was scurrying for a place to print out the new scripts from Jerry since Tom doesn’t have a printer. I decided to workout before it got too late. I worked out until around 9:30 and them remembered I still have a 6:00 am flight I had to reschedule. 20 minutes later I remember that Amigo Friend Allison lives close to Tom and I head over to her apartment, but her printer ran out of ink 3 pages in. She directed me to a Kinko’s down the street and I finally got to study the scripts around 11:00 pm.
Today, I was up at 8:00 am to feed the meter and then get back to studying the new scripts over oatmeal. The NASCAR spots are really funny and tailored to my sense of humor and delivery. I feel confident going in, which is very rare. Prepared always, calm always, confident rarely. It’s odd to say, but my job is to give a good audition, not worry about what the step after that is or what it’s going to do for me….you know, instantly cast myself and lose focus. I had the scripts and background, got the jokes and knew what they wanted. I was confident and calm, not cocky or looking ahead. So I packed up and headed over the hill at 9:30 am for my 11:00 am audition.
10:30 arrive and circle numerous times to park.
10:45 sign in and immediately notice several familiar faces. Familiar from “24”, “Best Week Ever”, legendary improv troupe Beer Shark Mice, and other national commercials, not familiar because I know them or have made their acquaintance. In my head the song from Sesame Street, “One of these things is not like the other” begins to play on a continuous loop, and I am firmly settled inside my neuroses until…
The casting director, Carole, announces there are 2 new scenes to study (not new to all of us is all I will say) and the other actors are immediately up and grasping for the new copies. My inner monologue of traffic noise and bombs exploding was suddenly quelled and I can hear the ocean now. I’m calm again.
Carole then comes over to me and introduces herself with the following “I’ve heard a lot about you. The creatives are just buzzing about you. We hear you’re a big NASCAR fan and studying over at Second City. They’re just buzzing about you.” Remember that calm state I mentioned earlier? Still there, but now it has a slight undertow of adrenaline to it. Just need to wait for my 11:00 audition.
I do have to admit I did break audition protocol and introduced myself to Michael Coleman from Beer Shark Mice, my favorite improv group. He was INCREDIBLY NICE and we had a nice 5 minute conversation. I don’t make it a habit to do stuff like that, given the environment and fact that he was trying to prepare for his audition, but I’m such a fan of his work. After his audition was complete, he walked back over to me, shook my hand and wished me luck. Pure class.
I look up and notice it is 10:58, and that some of the other actors have yet to go in. So I begin watching the clock:
11:05 – I tell myself maybe they’re running late.
11:10 – I have convinced myself the auditions are going long because the other talent is so good.
11:15 – “Brian, you’re up next”
11:15-11:25 – I have absolutely no memory of this time period except for walking outside, taking a deep breath and saying a word to Pops.
11:25 – I walk into the audition room
11:25-11:40 Audition for 4 people
11:40 – I leave knowing I really did a good job. I felt great energy in the room and got some big laughs from the casting people. My choices were good and now my job is done.
I jump in the car to head towards LAX with calls to Driver and acting coach on the way to return the car.
12:35 – I return the car, arrive at the airport, eat lunch, and decompress.
2:10 – take off from LA
4 days of running ragged catches up with me and I sleep on the flight home.
6:55 – land in Dallas, check messages and email. Mom and sister pick me up. We pick up Campisi’s on the way home and then eat with my mom, sister, driver.
Before bed, I email Jerry and Jeff thanking them for the chance to come in and read, and letting them know I thought it went well.
So this morning I check my email and I have responses from Jerry and Jeff telling me that I did a great job, one of only a handful of people that did, that the project is now on hold, BUT I am in the TOP 5 and the casting people REALLY liked me (their use of caps not mine). That’s a good feeling to have. Tonight, I called Neil Bagg and left a voicemail for the Buchwald decision.
Wow, what a whirlwind 4 days. What an incredible series of events and what a good feeling it is to have want me in their projects from seeing me work. This shows me that my Second City training is working and that all this travel (which is not cheap) is helping me accomplish something. This is such a great experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Miles Traveled: 2,470
Total Miles: 64,220