Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Don't Make Me Get Out of the Booth!

Without inflating my friend's ego, I hope to not become as he says, a Jack of all trades, master of none. That being said, I've ventured into a new space that allows me to perform in the awkward silence that without years of professional improv training and performances from Second City, I would be ill-prepared.

Last night I stepped into the sound booth for the first time ever. It was a local voice over actor's apartment in Ukranian Village and he had a professional sound proof room next to the microphone and recording space I used in the corner. It was like Jack Lemmon knowing that Baldwin had the good leads locked away but just at an arms reach.

Voice over work is something I know nothing about. Darren was a very impressive professional voice over actor who gave a quick crash course. I got the low down on where to look for auditions that I could too could be rejected from. He let me know what to expect with auditions, the cost of a demo, and how hard it may be to crack into.

Then he had me read. Out loud. It was fun. Even fumbling over a fifth grad vocabulary in front of a stranger was simply therapeutic. The big breakthrough came when I relaxed and talked with my hands and let it fly. Darren was critical and also complimentary of my reads. I'm one of the gifted souls who can make three sentences about the beaches of Cabo San Lucas sound like they're a parking lot in Milwaukee.

It was not a loss though. I read two sentences about Midas breaks. Yeah, Darren said it was very impressive on how I was able to bring such an honest and real interpretation  to the copy (of break warranties and certified mechanics). Which is impressive to me, as I know squat about my car.

I agree with Darren 100%. I'm not the best he's ever seen, but I showed promise on day one and that's a great thing seeing as I'm in my early thirties and although it's never to late to pursue a passion in life, I am too old to expect my parents to blindly support me.

I completely recommend taking Darren's Voice Over Exploration class. He was really great to work with!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Social Interaction Bucket List (for a 33 yr old)

Every year around my birthday I write a bucket list of things to do that I've never done before. 1 for each year. Rarely do I get them all crossed off but it's fun to do dozens of things I would not make time for.

I want to do or say the following things in the next year in regards to correcting some butthead socially accepted things. Yes, butthead needs to be used more.

1. Tell someone that they're hat is on crooked.
2. Photo bomb a gym selfie.
3. Make a teenager yield the sidewalk to me.
4. Grow the worst beard to end all this facial hair nonsense once and for all.
5. Put a Calvin peeing cartoon over someone's 26.2 sticker on their car.
6. Ask a 30 year old guy in a graphic t-shirt where his younger brother got that shirt.
7. Ask a female coworker for help changing the water cooler.
8. Tell a kid throwing a tantrum that God is watching.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

What's the Point?! (Comedy Festival Edition)

I've decided to take a stab at writing my thoughts on my current comedy experiences. There's often some thought on why comedians should do festivals...after all you typically drive far, book a hotel, get a 6-10 minute slot and no pay. Well for me, a self rep'd comic, festivals are more than just a credit.

Take LaughFest. I've heard it's the biggest comedy festival in North America. I've done their Community Showcases the last three years. (That's code for non-agency shows) Before I get too far into the ever so popular self deprecating, I should note that even for us under the radar comics, LaughFest treats us super well.

The staff and volunteers are probably the most prepared and willing to assist that I've seen in a comedy festival. Add to that, a city of say about 300k, that supports each and every night and show that is on the line up! As an insignificant athlete in my younger days, it sure is pretty cool to watch a bevy of foot traffic pass up a giant arena in downtown Grand Rapids to duck into a small bar or theater show instead.

Big picture time: What can I/anyone get out of a festival like LaughFest? First it's worth noting like comedy clubs, we have tiers of festivals too. The best thing I get from a festival is understanding of where I am funny. We tend to start comedy with friends, then an open mic nearby, then a club in the closest city to us. In my eyes, a comedy festival forces me to get out of my geographic comfort zone and make sure everywhere I go, I know I can be funny.

Where's my agent?! I've had the pipe dream that a festival could, would and should get me an agent. Maybe, as of now it hasn't. However, I have been given an opportunity to network and meet new comics from other states who share booking info to their region. It's just a bit of the ol' comedy karma. The majority of the comedians I meet at festivals are realistic and humble about the current GPS point in their career. That being said, I do enjoy the hell out of the diva comic who's under the radar who rolls out their own red carpet at these showcase events.

Pay to play? There's a skeptical thought that comics shouldn't have to pay to perform. This is an essay question most of us try to force as a fill in the blank. New York has the bringer shows, why is paying for a comedy fest any more or less offensive. Aside from the business operations that are often ignored by us comics, I get why there are fees to submit and fees to attend. These fees make me raise my expectations for my set, the audience and for my preparation.

Comedy festivals are just one of the packages we get to put ourselves in to get new audiences that in all honesty may not be so quick to come to our coffee shop shows. Sure there's an investment on us in the front end but that's nothing uncommon in this pursuit.