Friday, 9 September 2011

Advert auditions

This afternoon I am going to go through the ritual humiliation of an advert audition. If it's so humiliating then why am I going? Because adverts pay large amounts of money (sometimes really, really large) for one day's work. So this afternoon I am entering a lottery with relatively good odds and a nice cash prize. The difference is I don't pay for my ticket in cash - I pay for it in dignity.

I should say that not all advert auditions are awful but a fuck of a lot of them are. For those of you not blessed with the talent to be in my industry let me describe them to you. You get a time from your agent (let's say 1.20) to go to a casting usually in a small room somewhere in Soho. You get there at 1.10 and find 20 other people that look like you but a bit younger have taken all the seats. A young runner behind a desk with a trendy haircut hands you some forms and a script. If you are a man and about my age that the script will most likely be;

a) A group of likeable lads wind each other up in a likeable laddy way. Their problems are either solved by or their friendship somehow represents alcohol, junk food or BT.


b) A geeky but likeable guy is embarrassed in the company of an attractive woman. He either becomes attractive to her because of or takes comfort in alcohol, junk food or BT.

You then wait for an hour and a half to be seen. This is perhaps the most annoying part of advert auditions. I believe that the assumption on their part is that we, the auditionees spend our days waiting for the opportunity to sell Wotsits to an unwilling world. We do not. We spend our days working on other stuff so that we can get to a point in our lives in which we are happy to turn down thousands of pounds to sell Wotsits.

Then when you enter the audition room you are confronted by a friendly casting director and five advertising goons in deck shoes on their iPhones. The advertising goons refuse to look at you while you stand on a spot and say your name and agent to a camera. Then the director (usually much more polite than the goons) tells you that the script you've been looking at for the past 90 minutes is the wrong one. They'd like you to improvise something for them. This, I think has become a major problem. Advertisers get comedy people to come in and 'improvise' and thereby 'help to write' their advert for no fee. The role is then offered to Ralf Little.

What has become unbearable for me is the dynamic in the room. From the goons point of view I am a shit actor, struggling for work and this is a massive opportunity. Their assumption, I think, is that only the shittest of the shit end up at Wotsits auditions. The fact that they are making a Wotsits advert doesn't seem to lead them to question their own place on the shit scale at all. In this small instance these bellends have a power over me - the ability to pay me a huge wad of cash for my services - and, too often, they abuse that power by treating me like doggy plop.

There's certainly an arrogance on my own part at play here. I don't like the idea that these people seem to feel above me. I want them to know what I've done and respect it. Respect me, God dang it! Just because I wouldn't mind a 12 grand cash injection to help pay for my mother's crystal meth habit doesn't mean I haven't given one of the finest Prospero's the world has ever seen. I mean, I haven't (I'm far too young for the role) but how do they know that?

I fear I haven't quite described the sheer disdain and smugness that oods from many of those advertising goons. This Cardinal Burns/Fat Tongue sketch which you've probably seen displays the humiliation pretty well...

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