Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Performance of a Lifetime

This past weekend was the wedding of my bestest friend in the whole wide world.  It was such a beautiful weekend and wedding.  I felt so relaxed and just....I dunno, at home the whole time.  Yeah, that's it.  Only I wasn't home, I was in the Berkshires.  This was SUCH a beautiful wedding.  The setting was idyllic, the ceremony heartfelt, the bar was deep, the dancing tunes spot on and the food was rahhrrrrrr.  I was asked to make a wedding speech and I was excited and humbled to do so.  This speech quite possibly could have been the performance of my life.  I might actually make it into a monologue, no joke.  Everyone laughed at every joke, they sighed at every mushy detail.  As a performer looking at it, I think I was effective because I truly meant every word that I said.  Every noun carried meaning, every adjective carried meaning etc etc etc.  Here is the speech with names taken out.  It's equipped with actor notes.

"Hello my name is Phillip ______  and I am a life long friend of (GROOM).  I believe a toast is in order for the parents of the bride, to Robert and Mary - thank you for such a beautiful day and for all of your generosity, as well as the parents of the groom, Tim and Wendy.  Cheers to you, for such a beautiful day as well.  And finally an extra special toast for Gordon and Mary for allowing us to enjoy this rather bucolic (BYOO-Kah-lik) property.  (aside) I am a fan of Virgil's lesser works.
How does one define a wedding?  Webster defines it as: the fusion of two hot metals.  (beat) Right?

This definition rings true with BRIDE and GROOM.  GROOMis whatever metal is really cool and knowledgeable.  Such as.......Aluminum!  Being a nice blend of athletic and smart, It can be a baseball bat or a sliderule.  Aluminum also serves as the bristles of a grill brush, which reminds me of his full beard.

BRIDE is platinum, mostly because it's precious. Platinum is also used in medical equipment.  Did you know that the Hope Diamond is set in platinum? Neither did I until I googled it.  When people see the Hope Diamond, they fail to notice the quiet elegance lying underneath - and that is the essence of BRIDE.  

Separate they are just two useful and highly sought after metals, aluminum and platinum.  But together, they are platuminum.   

Metallic analogies aside; GROOM is in many ways, the brother that I never had.  It wasn't always like that though.  We were inseparable from birth until my folks moved to Bergen County New Jersey - I being four years old, came with them.  The GROOMS FAMILY and MY FAMILY would see each other a few times each year, typically during holidays - including, but not limited to Thanksgiving and Easter.  After college, GROOM and I lived together in Chelsea.  I was the largest person in the apartment and I had the smallest far. 

But I'm totally not bitter about the “small room thing” because in that grimy walkup is where our relationship blossomed into what it is today. 

I had the pleasure of meeting BRIDE at that time as well.   BRIDE would visit during the week and she would give apartment number four some much needed elegance.  She would arrive with goodies for GROOM, which I would pilfer after he went to bed.  (Sorry about that) That's another great quality of BRIDE, she is able to pick the best ice cream flavors.  Chocolate with Cayenne?  It's delicious. That's how I know that BRUDE will be a great wife, she will take care of GROOM!  She took care of me, and who was I?  I was just some guy who lived in the maids room off the kitchen.  When BRIDE was gone and we were left to our own devices we would watch the Mets, drink scotch and grunt at each other.  GROOM is definitely the “agra” to BRIDE’s “dolce”.

So today is a great day - I am not only seeing my brother get married, but I am also gaining a sister.  Here's to the two of you - congratulations and I love you very much."

After the speech I was thanked by the bride and groom, that felt really nice, I could tell that they really enjoyed it.  I was then thanked by the father of the groom.  If the thanking and congratulating had stopped there it would have been perfect. I, no kidding stopped counting how many times I was congratulated at 103 times.  I kid you not.  This is not an exaggeration.  I achieved celebrity status.  And I gotta tell you it became a little annoying.  I always knew that I didn't want to become famous as an actor.  But that day and the next day I realized what it could be like for someone famous.  I know that I am sounding a bit weinerish to you, and perhaps I am indeed a weiner regarding this matter.  I also know that people's compliments came from a nice place and they did truly mean those things.....but believe me, it gets really really annoying to constantly tell people 'Thank you!  I'm glad you enjoyed the speech, it means a lot to me."  I was even thanked by a few people 4+ times.  There were only 135+/- at the wedding so 103+ compliments is an outrageous number.

The compliments were bizarre.  People were like "That speech made the wedding so special!"  No, dickhead, the wedding made the wedding special!  These two beautiful people decided to combine their lives together in front of their closest friends and family.  That was special. Not some speech!  A speech should never usurp nuptials, no matter how fantastically delivered.

I was not the only person effected.  My wife was absurdly marginalized.  She was no longer Dawn, or Phil's wife.  She was now, the wife of the guy who made that great speech.  She was completely devoid of any identity!  Ha.  She would introduce herself, and people would recognize her taken name and they'd ask her if she was my wife.  She would say yes.  What would they say?  They told her congratulations!!!!! HA! 

Possibly the most outrageous compliment came when the photographer, the next day, at the brunch said "Hey, that speech was excellent last night, thanks for that!"  Why is he thanking me???!?!?!!?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I really like this art work

As an actor I am constantly at battle with my brain and ego about things that I can not control.  I hate not being able to control things, but you just have to......I don't know, "let go"?  This art work really hit me.  It made me feel relieved in a weird way.  I suppose I felt relieved that someone else feels the way that I hope to about hopes/dreams/success/failures. I saw it on Gizmodo, here is the original piece. It's available for purchase too, I might just get it. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sparred yesterday!

And now, I have a bit of a headache.  Whenever there is a smaller sized class, we spar.  I first just had a light sparring session with Camillo.  He is about 6-4 and 200 lbs, lightning quick.  We just had one person punch and the other counter, both sides just using the left.  Jab to face and hook to face were OK too.  I like sparring with him because he is a shade taller than me and he is a lot quicker than me, so I have to be a bit more cerebral about what I do.  I can't just wail away and attack, I have to bait him a bit and counter and immediately get out of the way, because he has a pretty accurate straight jab.  Actually, most of his punches are pretty accurate.  I'm fortunate that I didn't catch the liver shot that  his next opponent caught.  It was a pretty funny moment.  You hear the guy dry heave and laugh simultaneously.  He then remarked "Standing seven count?  Fuck that, I'm sitting down!"

Then I went against this guy Chris.  He is a bit taller than me too. He weighs a little less than me and is pretty muscular.  His punches aren't as fast as Camillo's but they pack a lot of power, because of his overall strength.  Chris doesn't come as often as he'd like to (he's a maintenance painter with crazy hours).  Because of that, I hadn't had the opportunity to spar with him before.  We were both pretty winded when we started sparring each other so we just kind slugged it out.  I'm pretty sure we each landed about a dozen body shots and maybe 6-7 head shots.  Lambros told us not to throw rights to the head, and we heeded his advice.  Which is a good thing, because we are better at offense than defense and if rights to the head were involved I supposed my headache would be a bit more severe. 

Then I went up against Bosko.  At this time we both went about 1/2 speed.  I've taken what I know to be a full speed punch to my head from Bosko and there is no comparison to what we were throwing last night.  We were just basically tapping each other and focusing on foot work.  This is a good thing, because when he punches hard you feel it.  I've been told that I have a formidable right hand too. 

Then I rounded things out by going against a newish guy, Bill.  I was only allowed to work on defense and throw an occasional jab to the body to keep him away.  I worked on my footwork and felt like Keanu in the matrix. 

Monday, June 21, 2010

Commercial I did

So someone did indeed cast me.  Here is the commercial; it is 100% improvised.  It's for Feed Granola.  Check em out here I did this along with the talented team of Gut Punch and their internal advertising faction.  Check out Gut Punch and all of their hilarity and talent.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What a thin margin of error!

Last night went OK.  There wasn't enough time to do the Shakespeare monologue, but I did perform the "Knocked Up" scene and the other scene from "One Life to Live".  Overall Steve was not totally pleased.  However, he and I were both pleased that I was able to see myself on camera and pick out tiny problems here and there.  And how tiny these problems are!  It is such a crazy small margin of error.

It does bring to light possible reasons why I haven't really gotten any legit work.  I've had a lot of call backs but nothing booked - which is eternally frustrating.

Such tiny mistakes are: on an opening line I did a bit too much with my right eyebrow.  I said the line, "Hello, Abby." In between the two words I raised my eyebrow a little bit - and that was too much too soon - especially when you consider that this shot was a close up (it was just my face).  There is a video demonstration at the end of this entry.

Weight loss related side note: I was very pleased with how I looked on camera, relatively speaking.  When we had camera class two months ago, it was a huge difference with how I looked.  That was about 15 pounds ago, after all.  On Tuesday I weighed in at 257, which is a massive accomplishment.  I was only 5 pounds lighter when I graduated HS, and I do have most of my strength back since then too!

OK that was more than a side note, ha.

Another tiny mistake was when I said the line "How's about we go inside and talk about it?"  I said it with a blend of sinister and sexual undertones. Not appropriate for the scene and the text in no way substantiates such choices.  I was a police officer asking a young woman questions at her door step about her involvement in an attempted murder.

The "Knocked Up" scene went a little bit better, perhaps because I was more loose, being the second time I went up there.  Steve gave me a nice tip: "Chorbatski, before you go up on camera....take a deep breath and relax, when you don't do that you are tense and when you are tense you aren't as effective as you could be."  OK I can do that.  My tiny mistake in this scene was I gave a question way too much weight/importance.  I did feel that the question needed weight/importance.  The question was asking if the two guys' wife and girlfriend would accept them again into their lives.  Seems big to me.  The line was "Do you think they'll take us back?"  Steve just wanted me to simply ask the question, like, in the same way that you would ask someone to pass the ketchup.  "Hey man, can ya pass the ketchup over here?"  Imagine how you would ask that question.  Got it?  Good.  Now ask it the same way but with these words: "Do you think they'll take us back?"

Ha.  Big difference eh?  Or rather....a tiny difference that makes all the difference in the world of the cast and the tragically uncast.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Anticipation of class tonight

Last weeks camera class was postponed due to technical difficulties, so we are doing it tonight.  I have three pieces tonight.  One is a scene from the sempiternal soap "One Life to Live".  I was pimped into working on this scene, and at first was a bit put off about having to do it.  Eventually,  I realized that as an actor, you do have to go out for parts or projects that you may not like - and "A professional...(as the late great Charleton Heston said) ...does his best even when he doesn't feel like it."  I may or may not be paraphrasing there. 

Another scene is from a multiple Academy Award winning film.  A truly watershed film.  I am talking of course about  "Knocked Up" by Judd Apatow.  I, of course am playing the Seth Rogan character.  It's the scene after he and Paul Rudd take mushrooms, trip their balls off, go see Cirque Du Soleil, freak out and find themselves back in their hotel room.  There are five different kinds of chairs in this room!!!!!!!!!!!

And finally, for my opus I will perform the final version of the Lancelot Gobbo monologue from "The Merchant of Venice".  It's a bit different from my previous version on this site, because the voice of the fiend is modeled after Macho Man Randy Savage. 


Monday, June 14, 2010


When I was a college chap (read: my younger and more vulnerable years) I told myself that I would pursue acting for 5 years and if I didn't "make it" I would get a Doctorate in Acting/Theatre and be a professor, because I just loved acting that much that I wanted to be surrounded by it and I didn't care about the capacity.

It has now been 5 years to the date of my college graduation.  And I gotta level with you, there's no effing way I'm packing it in.   Although I have accomplished a lot and had a heck of a lot of close calls. Let's try to recap:

Immediately after graduation I was cast in a pilot, "College Daze" and was cast in an off-off broadway Shakespeare show, "The Merchant of Venice."  The play paid a small honorarium, I met some cool people (am still friends with two of them).  The pilot was a great experience, it didn't go anywhere but I learned from it and it was a good ego boost to get that much work early on.

I joined SAG and AEA. 

I starred in numerous one act plays in downtown Manhattan, they won awards and were well received.

I took a shit load of improv classes at the UCB.  One of the guys I met in class, the aforementioned Mark is still a great friend and was in my groom party.  I made a lot of connections at the UCB and even had a show that ran for a while. 

My father and I started an outdoor Shakespeare company on Fire Island NY.  It lasted 3 seasons and we managed to pay the actors and give them free room and board.  We had great reviews and I myself had three excellent reviews.  I was compared to a "young Orson Welles."  Hot damn!

I was in a JVC Everio commercial where I danced shirtless and collapsed and died.  It was on ESPN's homepage for two weeks.  I knew this, because my e-mail box blew up from fraternity brothers that I hadn't heard from in years.

I was a day player in "Lipstick Jungle."  Sweaterboy.  I was Lorraine Braccho's assistant. It was supposed to be a day of featured background, they gave me a line and then cut it.  But the paycheck was nice and meeting Mrs. Braccho and Kim Raver was really cool.  Mrs. Raver is exceptionally kind and warm.

I did a lot of stand-in work for John Goodman.  I spilled my guts to him one night on the set of "Confessions of a Shopaholic".  and told him that he was, in essence, my hero and my inspiration to pursue acting after college as a big guy.  I learned SO much from Goodman and he is hands down one of the kindest people on Earth.  I get a special tingly feeling just thinking about his work and his warmth.  

A short list of close calls: I lost a role to Tony Hale (from arrested development and the informant, among may other things) for the movie "Arlen Farber", it went to Sundance.  I repeat: this film went to Sundance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I would been opposite Jeff Daniels for 5 scenes.  I repeat: I would have been opposite Jeff Daniels for five scenes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The casting director told me that I was "thiiiiiiiiiis close" to getting it.  Supposedly the producer wanted a name and not a new guy.  I had call  backs for numerous movies including "Law Abiding Citizen", "How Do You Know..." (directed by James L Brooks) and M Night Shylamans "The Last Airbender".    For LAC, I was supposedly on the table to get cast as "Mitch" a young ADA who gets blown up and whose untimely demise Jamie Foxx cries over.  They rewrote the script and "Mitch" hit the cutting room floor.  For "How Do You Know" I lost the role to the actor who played "Herc" on "The Wire and cousin Dominic from Entourage.  Two national commercial call backs: Carnival Cruise lines and Kraft mayonnaise.

I don't want to talk more about the near misses, the heartbreak and the tears - because I don't want to feel like that again.  

I was raised by my father so attack each day and task with vigor and enthusiasm; there's no way I'm going away quietly. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010

...about last night.

For the second week in a row I got chewed out a bit in acting class.  This time I was informed that, in essence, I was underplaying too much.  When I first came to the class, I was overplaying, showing off my largess etc; now I am too underplayed - everything is too toned down. 

It's a bit frustrating. But when I sat down after class to ponder my lesson I realized that I just have to split the difference.  Additionally, last night, Steve implored me to put more time into my preparation.  He told me..."Know why you're saying what you're saying.  That is the most important thing I have ever told you.  If you take away even one tiny bit of wisdom from all of my teaching, let it be that."

Fair enough, I can do that.  Next week, the underplaying/overplaying will reach an accord and every action will have a specific reason.  Also, as per Steve's guidelines, I will let it rip and let him be my bullshit detector. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another piece I've been working on....

This is a monologue from the movie "An Everlasting Piece".  I really like the monologue.  I chose to work on this one and show it to you loyal readers (more like reader, singular, ha) because it's of someone who is crazy.  If you haven't seen the movie, netflix that badboy.  It's a dark comedy that takes place in war torn Belfast, directed by Barry Levinson.  Here it is, it's not finished but it's close I think.

Monologue from "An Everlasting Piece" from Phillip Chorba on Vimeo.

Is there anything in particular that you cared for, or didn't care for?  I'm looking for another set of eyes on this one. 

Sunday, June 6, 2010

What I've been working on...

Here it's pretty close to finished.  A few critiques after the video.

Lancelot Gobbo Monologue - "Merchant of Venice" from Phillip Chorba on Vimeo.

1)The confidentiality was there, the speech variation was good, im satisfied with the sense of play and how i found the moments and importance on the line early on "...and he tempts me, saying to me.." I was pleased with how I layered mischief and a bit of sex.

2) Discovery around the end of the monologue was....ok, but I need to vary how I sound when I say "to run from the jew I am to be ruled by the fiend".  not all discoveries in real life are...exactly...the...same!

3) I need to remember where the conscience is located at all times.  Mid monologue it moved to "the neck of my heart", then a few moments later, I reference him being on my shoulder again...that can't happen.  Its sloppy and shows a lack of concentration.  bad philip!  tisk tisk tisk.  right at "well my conscience says budge." so frustrating!!!!!! c'mon man!

4) the game play role play of the fiend and conscience was.....ok (i know im a perfectionist) but that really gives me an excellent opportunity to chew scenery.

5) ingesting the fiend was steve's idea last week, but the coke snort and rub was my embellishment. he does refer to him as "the fiend" after all.

Friday, June 4, 2010

...about Wednesday night...

So I got chewed out a little bit on Wednesday night during my weekly acting class.  I supposed I plateaued last class or even regressed a little bit.  Things like this are bound to happen.  Steve informed me that when I don't make a connection with the audience and by failing to do so I do not "literally talk to them" (not necessarily in  a "breaking the fourth wall" sense) I become less of a performer and, dare he say it, and dare I agree, more of a bore.  It's OK to make a connection with a specific square inch spot on the wall in front of me, but that is a lot harder to pull off than making a connection with a human beings eye ball.  It's obviously more natural, and it stands to reason, a lot easier to do.

What's funny is this: it has never been directly told to me (or anyone else that I know for that matter) that making eye connection with an audition monitor/Casting Director/etc is a bad thing, but for some reason.....everyone believes this to be true.

While acting is a craft, it is also "the business of selling feelings and emotions".  How can you successfully sell an emotion or a feeling if there is literally no connection?  Right.  You can't. A-DURRRRRR. :-)

Then it suddenly hit me this morning, on the ride into Penn Station (stayed with the in-laws last night).......while acting is defined as so many different things, like.....the reality of doing......behaving truthfully (with or without the mask).......BUT, for my intents and purposes....acting is nothing more than just talking to people.  Just communicating to people.  Cut out all of the unnecessary stuff.  All the Steve calls them.  Just talk to people. It was truly a Eureka moment.

This is going to be great.


When I relayed this to Steve, here is his response:
it is that. it is also actually doing things and saying things 2 people, and not "demonstrating" or "showing" people those things u, the actor, r saying or doing. if u hold a cup, just hold the cup, don't show us that u r holding a cup...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I have new headshots now... warned NYC casting directors, I have new headshots and sharpened acting skills. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I settled on my headshots

I printed up 50 of these bad boys......

...and I also put this other one on my actors access profile, along with the aforementioned...

RIP Dennis Hopper

I just read the news now, and I am saddened to hear that Dennis Hopper has passed away.  I loved him as an actor.  How awesome of a movie is "Easy Rider"?  Really, really awesome.  His acting style was so great.  He acted with a lot of charm, charisma and always with a little bit of malice simmering just under the surface - as if you never quite knew what he would do next, but you always knew what he was capable of.  I've definitely taken some ideas from him.  Man oh man, he was so great in "Jesus's Son".  That's a great movie also.  Check it out if  you haven't yet.

Haha, I just chuckled thinking about how maniacally evil he was in "Waterworld".  Remember? Ha.

True Romance.  So good.  Dennis, I'm going to miss seeing you on the screen and thanks for being such a powerful presence and congratulations on getting the hollywood star.