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Daddy Knows Best


Working actors lead [dramatic pause] interesting lives. Our day-to-day schedules are at the whim of capricious calls from elusive agents. We lay ourselves bare (sometimes more than metaphorically) on the chopping block, and our self-worth is too often toyed with by the people we most want to love us -- casting directors. Cue the identity crisis. To whom do I make out my check for today's session, Doctor?

Monday was no exception for me, apart from the fact that I didn't have time to visit a therapist. My puppet strings were being pulled taut with auditions on different ends of the city, for completely different roles. On this day I was going to be several people, the least of whom was myself.

The first audition was for a "young hot dad" for a fashion commercial. This is very new to me, as actors generally play younger than their years, not older. So after a mini-meltdown during which I tried unsuccessfully to convince myself that it was OK to look older than 23 (this involved a facial, some Xanax, and a call to Mommy), I pulled myself together and tried to dress like someone with a child. I didn't shave, and I did the whole sweater-over-a-collared-shirt thing with a trendy tie. In retrospect, I think I looked more like a teenager who raided his dad's closet than a believable father. Maybe that's just the Xanax talking. But I thought the spotty 5 o'clock shadow was a nice touch.

Tilting more toward the Tom Cruise end of the height continuum, I generally do not audition for fashion. But hey, they wanted to see me, so naturally they'd select a non-Amazonian wife for me, someone equally vertically challenged. Alas, "Natalie" was a foot and a half taller than average height, and she was also wearing a revealing red dress that would make a pole dancer blush. So there we were, Jenna Jameson and Howdy Doody. To quote Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, we didn't exactly "blend."

Feeling short and rejected, I was in the perfect place emotionally for the gut punch of a $60 street-cleaning parking ticket that followed my audition. With my tail between my legs and my dignity left on the casting video that documented this disaster, I turned the key in the ignition, only to get another call from my agent. "You have 42 minutes to morph into a 22-year-old drummer," he said. This audition was for a project shooting in Thailand in three days.

"Actor hours" today at the gym would have to wait, but at least the age and character type of this potential new role boosted my spirits. However, my '50s househusband getup was clearly not suitable, nor was the scruff.

In my best Flash impersonation, I raced home, grabbed a flannel, shaved (without a nick!), and grabbed my drumsticks. I arrived at the audition with one minute to spare and was greeted by a row of unmarked steel doors. Great. I get to play the Psychic Friends version of Let's Make a Deal and hope I pick the right one on the first go. I didn't. Second try was no good either.

After brief but totally meaningful conversations with everyone who had offices in this Sunset Boulevard fun house, I finally found the room, outfitted with a sad attempt at a makeshift drum kit. A single snare drum and a high chair were supposed to act as a full rock-band drum set. Oh, and they wanted me to play along to Rihanna. On a boom box. Seriously.

Well, I've never been to Thailand. And apparently I won't go anytime soon either. Evidently there is someone out there who can play pretend-drums to Rihanna's synthesized drums better than moi--and I play real drums. Was my ego bruised or inflated by this news? Difficult as it is in this profession, I do try to live in reality -- so it was the latter.

Oh, I also got a pleasant yet certain "no thanks" for my Howdy Doody impersonation. Yet I did get a callback to meet the producers -- which was only given to a tenth or so of the actors. Maybe they felt bad about the parking ticket ... or perhaps they wanted to laugh in person. Or maybe I look that good with tall women. Such things I'll never know. Besides, I'm no daddy anyway.


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David Moretti