I learned something about myself at a callback for a Best of The Second City show this week. This was a really cool opportunity to act in some super funny scenes written by the Second City greats and because I’m a Second City LA conservatory graduate, I was afforded the opportunity to audition. I showed up for the initial audition with some hesitation, because it wasn’t a paying gig and I honestly didn’t think the scenes would be funny or relevant, but I am working on cultivating a more open mind. After reading the scenes, I laughed out loud they were so funny. My pretentious nature when it comes to comedy had been challenged by reading these great comedy sketches. My high regard for the institution of The Second City was reinforced. Greats like Chris Farley, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, Bill Murray, and Rachel Dratch trained at The Second City. I was really excited to get the callback.
The director, who was a Second City Mainstage director, gave us some inspirational words before the audition, which is extremely rare in Hollywood. The typical protocol for an audition in Hollywood is to start with “Any questions? No, great, whenever you’re ready..” And then at the end of your audition it’s “Thanks.” That’s it. The audition process in Hollywood has been distilled to the business of impersonal efficiency and this was not the case at my Second City callback. This director’s speech began with “My agent in Chicago always said, ‘Your job as an actor is to get the callback. If you get the callback, you did your job and the rest is out of your hands.’” He went on to say that we should feel free to play and have fun at his callback. I like this philosophy, but you still need to do your job as an actor at the callback. However, I appreciated his effort to rid us of any nervousness. The next thing this director said was “I’m casting The Avengers (metaphorically speaking), and in The Avengers there’s a character who is a sniper, Hawkeye. I’m not looking for a Superman or a Wolverine, even though they are superheros too. I’m looking for specific characters for this show, so if you don’t get cast in this show, it doesn’t mean you’re not a superhero.”
This was a cool speech and I couldn’t help but think to myself that I’m just the Hawkeye this director is looking for. I went into the callback with the Second City mentality of serving the scenes and making my scene partners look good. I was a graduate of the Second City LA conservatory in 2003 and I’d been doing improv and stand up consistently since then. I was not nervous. Some of the actors there seemed like they were recent grads and were very nervous. I wasn’t. I was confident that I knew what I was doing and was funny. Sure enough, I served every scene I was in by not missing a beat, getting laughs and making my scene partners look good. I made smart character choices, didn’t showboat or ham it up, and in my mind, I knocked this callback outa the park.
Unfortunately, I got the email that thanked me for auditioning and that I did not get cast in this show, which again, is very rare in Hollywood for an actor to get an email thanking them for the audition. The usual protocol is if you don’t get the part, you don’t hear anything, which is understandable because casting directors don’t have time to thank every single actor who auditions for their projects. I was very sad to hear this news, because I felt like I did a great job at that callback and really wanted to be a part of this show, but it wasn’t in the cards. So, we actors move on with our lives and chalk it up as a great opportunity that didn’t materialize. On to the next thing…
The next day, I find myself hanging out at my second stand up comedy open mic of the night, kinda feeling sorry for myself, when a friendly comic friend of mine approaches me and says “Cool Wolverine jacket!” I was wearing a pretty cool leather jacket that I hadn’t worn in about a year, because the nights here in LA are getting cooler and the jacket makes me feel cool. What this comic friend of mine said couldn’t have been more appropriate. Yes, I’m the Wolverine that didn’t get cast in The Best of Second City, but I’m still a superhero, maybe.