At then end of my last post, I mentioned that I would write about a Philadelphia audition. While I will do that eventually, first I have to tell you about my audition on Monday for The Onion. I haven't had auditions this close to each other in quite some time, so it's hard for me to keep track. Anyway as Bob Costas says "We rewind..."
I was about to board the beloved and late arriving megabus and my bling starts to ring. I answer the call and its my legit agent telling me that I have a requested audition for The Onion. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I adore The Onion. I read the website literally every day, I have done so since I was about 16. Even on my honeymoon I had to find an internet cafe. Side note: internet cafes in Venice are predictably expensive. The Onion is in the midst of launching two television shows. The Onion Sports network is going to be on Comedy Central and The Onion News Network is going to be on IFC. This audition was for the OSN. Normally I would be elated, but this time, my heart dropped to me knees.
An old friend was getting married the next day in Kennebunkport. We needed to allow 6-7 hours for the drive up, the ceremony was at 430pm, my audition was at 1030am - that was the earliest possible time. I told them, that I sadly, could not attend. F#############ck I thought. We drove up to Kennebunkport, forgot about the lost chance and danced the night away. I had been having trouble with my blackberry's reception, so I just put it on silent and left it in the hotel room.
When we were in Portland my phone alerted me to a new message. It was my agent! My agent is usually very sweet, this time she sounded a bit perturbed.
"Phillip, its _____. I don't know where you are......but you have an audition for The Onion. Call me, 212 xxx-xxxx"
In her defense, I ALWAYS pick up the phone. Literally. On the first ring. My acting career comes first. So if I were to go MIA, well....this could definitely be a cause for concern. The time was 6pm and it was Saturday, of course the office wasn't open. Nevertheless I left a message.
"Hey it's Phillip calling! I am confirming for Monday. I apologize for not getting back to you sooner, but I'm up in Maine and my reception is in and out. I hope the audition is still on the table and I'll call you Monday to re-confirm. 201-xxx-xxxx"
I called at 930am Monday morning and the audition was on! Hooray, I was all set for 330pm. I got the sides and I noticed a peculiar piece of direction. Typically before the words you are supposed to say there will be directions in parentheses. It will look like this...
Phillip, its your agent. I don't know where you are......but you have an audition for The Onion. Call me, 212 555-6823!
As you can see, if you are auditioning for the role of my agent in the made for TV movie based on my life, "Banished to Extra Work: The PhillyRay Story", you would read the lines with a bit of an edge, add in some conflict and perhaps raise your voice a bit here and there. Got it? Great. Now the sides for the onion had a bizarre word in parentheses, eh not really bizarre, just uncommon. It was "inscrutable". I remembered that the word existed, but that's about it. I looked it up into google.searchmachine_internet (all one word) and typed "define inscrutable." Apparently it is synonymous with mysterious, clandestine etc.
Bingo. One of my guideposts that my sensei has taught me is mystery/secret/confidentiality. When I went in to the audition room, the CD asked me if I had any questions.
I said, "Yeah man, I do. When you say inscrutable.....you want me to say the line with an element of mystery, you want me to hold back on what I know, like I'm not telling the whole story?"
The CD's eyes lit up.
"Ya know what? I haven't seen that yet, I'd like to."
Realizing that I had potentially dug myself into a black hole of perilous acting I said "So would I! Ha."
As background, the role I was auditioning for was a professional body surfer who earns a comfortable living doing so. His line was "I just try to keep my body straight and go as far as I can go." So I endowed the character with a sense that he knows that he is making a killing at a sport that chubby 8 year olds can do, so he wants his secret to be safe. Boom, I did it, and the CD asked me to stay put because he had yet another script he'd like me to read. That also went well. After my second attempt at the second script he clapped his hands and said "Perfect! Just like that!"
Ok, let's digest. The difference between my audition and previous actors' auditions was that I looked up the word "inscrutable" and applied it to the frame work that I know. His reaction was a pleasant one when I asked if he'd like to see it in a mysterious way. To me, that means that no other actor tried that, at least successfully. Will I get cast? Who knows. Do I have a fighting chance because I made a smart decision?