Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Everybody SING!

Last night I auditioned for the Level 5 Writing Class show at The Second City Training Center (there has been some confusion over this, so to clarify: I did not audition to write a show; I auditioned to perform in a show written by advanced-level students.)

My slot was at 9:15 and they were running behind. I checked in and handed my head shot and resume to the nice young man at the table.

"The red spot on the head shot in no way suggests that this was printed out on a home machine from a digital photo taken by a friend while I stood up against the wall, motherfucker."

"Um..No! Of course not!"

I saw Tim from my Beginner class; he was auditioning for something else. We chatted while we waited, and he filled me in on all the exciting developments in the South Loop (He bought a condo there last year and is ecstatic that they're going to put a 2-acre park by his house. This is good, because the South Loop is a bit of a concrete wasteland, alhouh this hasn't stopped young professionals from snapping up property there). Then he left for his audition, and my group (the last group) was called into the Skybox. Because Improv auditions tend to involve an observation of how people spontaneously interact, you are all thrown on stage at the same time. So there I was, with six twentysomething guys, facing a group of writers and the show's director, who seemed mature and confident.

"OK, I want each of you to step to the front of the stage, say your name clearly, and tell us what the theme to your high-school prom was."

Now, not only was my high-school prom 25 years ago, I didn't go. And here it was, back to haunt me.

I stepped forward when my turn came and said, "I was in the Latin Club. I didn't go to my prom." I tried to put as much teenage angst into it as I could, and I got some "awww"s from the audience.

We did some two-person scenes, some add-ons. I was OK. I felt rusty -- it had been a couple months since I'd "played," and I was a bit blocked. But I stuffed a turkey with gusto and played paddleball like a pro.

We were then assigned partners to go and review a written scene. I was paired with a guy I'd seen perform with Blue Shampoo, my friend Chris's group. Improv is incestuous as hell.

The scene was an interview for a job at McDonald's. We reviewed it and performed it (I kept thinking, "Does this scene go anywhere? Is this indicative of the show? Huh.")

Then for the last segment, he brought us all back on stage.

"OK, now we're going to have you sing."


"We aren't looking for perfect voices, just getting an idea of range. So just sing anything -- The Birthday Song, anything."

Now, people who know me know two things: One, I LOVE to sing. Two, I have a terrible singing voice. I'm like the cringeworthy American Idol auditioners, only I KNOW I'm not good. My singing style is straight from the Pinata School of Vocal Technique: I just keep blindly plugging away, hoping to hit my target, often missing, and what I lack in precision I more than make up for in the strength of my swing.

So I may not always hit that note, but I'll miss it with gusto.

As the guys stepped forward and sang, it was clear that none of us was a golden voice. Until Eldridge stepped forward and began to croon. Damn him.

I stood there trying to think of what to sing. (As someone who doesn't audition for musicals, I don't have "my song that I sing.")

"So what did you sing?" asked Sven this morning, when I told him.

"Well, earlier at home, I had been listening to the soundtrack from 'Avenue Q' ..."

"Oh my God."

"So when my turn came, I stepped to the front of the stage and belted out 'I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today.'"

Sven was horrified.

"Why didn't you sing, 'It's a Fine Line?'"

"Because that song is beautiful and is supposed to be pretty. You can sing 'I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today,' and nobody is offended if you're off-key. At least I didn't sing 'The Internet Is for Porn.'"

"How was it?"

"Well, it was loud."

So I'm not sure what my chances are, and I'm not sure that I mind if I don't get in. But I now have a fire under my butt to get my own material performed, because from what I've seen out there, my stuff is pretty competitive.

On my way out I saw Tom, the piano player from OLD! -- he was up for the pianist job for the show Tim was auditioning for. I told him I'd put in a good word when I'd heard he was being considered. He invited me to a St. Patrick's Day party he and a friend were throwing. (As I said, the whole Improv world is incestuous.)

So I gave Tom a ride home and then headed toward mine, singing "I'm Not Wearing Underwear Today" at the top of my lungs.

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