By: Jess Canty
I know we talk a lot about the business side of things - we of course feel like we are here to help you all with that.
But PLEASE don't get us wrong.
You are here to ENTERTAIN.
Dictionary definition: provide (someone) with amusement or enjoyment.
And I think this is the answer between the audition and the callback. When was the last time you auditioned and "provided someone with amusement or enjoyment?"
That Casting Director has to sit there ALL DAY and watch the same shit over and over and over. Or worse watch the same tape over and over and over. Imagine how refreshing it must be when someone finally walks in the door and it ... gasp... looks like they WANT to be there. That they are - dare I say it - HAVING FUN. Or getting a tape where that is the case.
Why do you think Declan Montgomery's self-tape for Stranger Things went viral ... because it was so damn entertaining.
If you aren't having fun, you think the casting director is? Or the Director you are sitting down to lunch with to talk about their project?
YOU NEED TO ENTERTAIN THEM.
If you don't find this fun...and I mean all of it. If you can't find a way to be entertaining - then I am just going to say it: you may be in the wrong business. Harsh, I know - or at the very least in the wrong job in the right business. I am allowed to say this because #BeenThereDoneThat.
Why are you doing this if you aren't entertained yourself?
There are a million more jobs where you can go make tons of money and NOT be having fun or entertained - at least you'd have money. If you aren't having fun - get out. I am not kidding. Don't waste everyone's time watching you NOT enjoy this. Seriously, please spare us.
YOUR JOB IS TO ENTERTAIN.
And am I talking about being over the top? Inauthentic? Cheese-ball?
Do you find over the top, inauthentic and cheesy performances entertaining?
Glad we cleared that up.
But Jess, what about the dramatic audition I have coming up? Um... the definition up there says ENJOYMENT.
I enjoyed the hell out of Chernobyl. Handmaid's Tale. Killing Eve. I even enjoyed When They See Us - because #Aristotle.
I heard a term the other day "TV to be Endured" and it was talking about this supposed new "genre" of must-watch TV that is difficult to watch. That must be "endured." They were talking about shows like When They See Us, Chernobyl, Unbelievable. 13 Reasons Why.
They have simply forgotten their Aristotle.
Catharsis: the purging of the emotions of pity and fear that are aroused in the viewer of a tragedy.
He means of course a tragedy in drama - the safe space to explore these emotions.
Human beings are clearly insane - we take "enjoyment" from a myriad of things that on paper do not seem enjoyable. Including, obviously, catharsis.
So if you are a dramatic actor, you better like evoking catharsis in your audience. You better find that enjoyable so that you can entertain us.
Etymology: late Middle English: from French entretenir, based on Latin inter ‘among’ + tenere ‘to hold’. The word originally meant ‘maintain, continue’, later ‘maintain in a certain condition, treat in a certain way’, also ‘show hospitality’ (late 15th century).
I find it profoundly interesting that one of the roots of the word Entertain is TO HOLD. Hold onto our attention. Hold us in your hands. Entertain us. Whether that "us" is in a small room on Cahuenga with 19 other actors outside the door, or in a carpool with James, or on a couch next to one of the Jimmies. Or perhaps in a car getting coffee with Jerry.
I highly recommend watching the episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with Martin Short. Jerry says "when Marty Short comes on your show, you're relaxed. Because you know you're gonna get funny stuff." Why is that? Because Martin Short is a consummate entertainer.
In this episode - all Martin is doing the whole time is attempting to entertain Jerry. The number of times Jerry doubles over in laughter could be a drinking game that would challenge even the biggest frat bro. And this show is only like 15 minutes long!
Martin even entertains the waitress when there is an opportunity. He is just constantly working for the joke, the story, the gag - at one point he even gets up in the restaurant to demonstrate.
BECAUSE HE IS AN ENTERTAINER.
Do you have to prepare? Of course.
Do you have to study? Yes.
Do you have to deliver? Absolutely.
Do you have to know about the business etc... Obviously.
But if you aren't entertaining - seriously y'all, who cares?