Friday, May 6, 2011

Read All About It

The job market is in a sorry state. At least it's sorry here in L.A., and maybe it's sorry where you are too, cherished readers.

So I've decided to try to work as a film extra. Oh sorry, they're called background actors now. (Although that name isn't wholly appropriate either, because sometimes they're in the foreground.)

It seemed like a fun L.A. kind of thing to do, and a way to make some rent money. But I guess a lot of other people had the same idea, because I haven't been able to book anything yet.

I registered with a casting agency. To get work I have to call in all the time and listen to recorded messages asking for specific things. Here's one from their facebook page:

Annie is looking for Caucasian men or women for the show "Weeds" working 5/5/11 in the L.A. area who MUST have a small european car (such as a citroen/smart car) or a Vespa (or something similar) If this is you and you are OK to work on Thursday the 5th please call and submit to [phone #]. Thanks!

If I fit what they're looking for, I call the number in the message. They pull up my photo that they have on file and give me a yes or no. If it's yes, they give me another number to call to listen to another recorded message giving me the job details.

This is all hearsay by the way because so far they haven't been looking for anything that sounds like me. Except this one thing--

Late one night there was a message that one of the casting directors was looking for "laughers". She said they often had trouble finding really good laughers, so she was putting together a file of good laughers that they could pull from in the future. Call in and laugh for me, she said, if you have a hearty, spontaneous laugh and you're between the ages of 18 and 40. (Apparently laughs from the over-40 crowd are useless.)

I'd like to mention that I have no idea what this is for. Is this like for people in the studio audience? People on camera laughing? Just to perk up a dull Tuesday night for this casting director? No idea.

But I had to call. Because it's the only thing that I could call in for so far.

I was nervous. This is why I'm not really a performer anymore. Actors have to be willing to make fools of themselves constantly. I don't have the constitution. Too proud.

It was late at night and Roommate was already in bed, so I couldn't do it from my apartment. I didn't even want to do it outside the house. I didn't want my neighbors to witness this shameful deed. But I live in a crowded city, so there's nowhere I could go to be totally alone.

I walked about 5 blocks away from my house. I had to practice first, warm up my voice, get that laugh just right. I kept moving so I wouldn't be laughing like a psychopath outside one person's open window in the middle of the night. And I held my phone to my ear so that all the people I imagined were watching me would think I was having a raucous conversation.

Finally I felt ready to call. This conversation is the quintessential L.A. experience to me.

Ring ring. Ring ring.

(answers phone)
Laugh for me.

HA haha hahaha hahahaa ha (about 15 seconds).


Dead silence.

Somewhere Candace Bergen drops a pin.


...How was that?

Can you go on a little more for me?

Sure. HAHA HAHAhahaa ha --

Dogs are barking. In the distance a baby cries.

HAhaha hahaah haha ha (about 45 seconds) --

Okay, who are you?

[Name and agency ID].

Thanks. (hangs up)

I quickly flee that neighborhood, never to return.

But I think I may have made it into the laughers file.


  1. You should have just thought of Joprah cleansing her apartment of the evil spirits of temptation.

  2. I wonder what that woman's dreams must be like spending all day listening to strangers pretend to laugh for minutes at a time directly in her ear...

  3. This is the best laugh I've had in awhile, no pun intended ;)