Monday, February 23, 2015

Stand-Up Bit: The Entertainment Industry

     I have a lot of free time. I'm an actor. Not one of those, “I'm an actor...well actually I'm a waiter who hopefully one day will be an actor.” Those people are the true heroes. I'm the asshole who has a goofy look so commercial casting directors are like “He's hilarious...looking! Hire him!” I mean, I'll never be a movie star- Hollywood only has the capacity for one character actor every year (yay, J.K. Simmons! It only took Hollywood 20 years and 40 Farmer's Insurance ads to realize your talent). So, since my odds of being a movie star are the same as it is for black, Latino, and Asian actors (slim to none)- the joke is ultimately on me. When is being a white male going to benefit me in the fantasy world like it has in the real world? Anyway, as long as I'm booking these commercials I don't need another job which frees up my afternoons. I don't need another job because the money you get from commercials is asinine. I once was in a DiGiorno's spot where I was on screen for this long: one missis- DONE! I almost made 6-figures on that commercial. I don't deserve it for a second. But it's mine to waste as I choose. Yeah, the Fair's in August- I get it- but in acting, the fair NEVER COMES.

     So, as I'm living “the dream” by being a working actor, I get pretty bored. So, I try and volunteer and teach and whatnot. I do it because giving back is truly important, but I'd be delusional if I didn't also do it because I don't know what else to do with my time. You can only watch so many episodes of Mad About You eat so many handfuls of Raisenets. When you sit around and do nothing you feel like you're wasting God's time. God, Buddha, your spirit animal- put you on this earth not just to sit around your crappy apartment all day wishing you were somewhere else. If I don't do something- I'll be just as worthless as when I'm on the set of a commercial. “Michael, they'll be shooting your 1 second clip for a product you could care less about in 8 hours, so just relax, grab some dried seaweed, relax, and let me know if you need anything.” Meanwhile, the crew is getting yelled at for not going fast enough. It's a mess. Welcome to Hollywood. Ba, ba, ba-ba-ba-ba (Farmer's theme song). Man, that's catchy. If these jingle-makers put their efforts into something actually useful for society, we wouldn't have to hear Michael Jackson's Heal The World for the millionth time. I've got nothing against MJ, but can we have a cool version of a quality social message instead of cool versions of people singing about “Face down, booty up” and “Baby I'm preying on you tonight.” Pitbull and Maroon 5- what a waste of talent.

      I hate top 40 music with a passion. It was the original YouTube video. You know, something everyone watches because they're told they should? After you see it you're like “That was awful...but if everyone else liked it, maybe I should too.” And once you watched the video, your view is used as “proof” that it's popular. You can't take back a view on YouTube even if you hate it. 80 million views! Yeah, but it has 40 million thumbs down and 20 million sarcastic comments. Doesn't matter. 80 million views! Any publicity is good publicity. Right, Bill Cosby? Such bullshit. Why am I in this industry? I would sleep much easier at night if I was doing something valuable like teaching 5th graders. So why don't I quit? What, and leave entertainment up to the “Face down, booty up” people? Not a chance. I'm J.K. Simmons- thank you for your time!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We Are Robots

Ah, the trials of pursuing an acting career!  Here are the realities of chasing what the unknowing would call "The Dream."  Hopefully "Stay In Character" and the Spoken Word piece "Extra By Way Of Specking:* Day 1 (Welcome To The Dream) provide some insight on the entertainment industry.

*Specking- slang for those who are not hired for a job but show up to the job site anyway in hope that if someone already hired does not show, they can work in the absent person's place.




Stay In Character

Thank you for your time! It was great meeting you!”
Forced smiles have become natural as she waves goodbye to her next hope at living the dream,
Of getting one step closer to that one role that would make all this worth it.
She closes the door without turning her back the casting directors-
Leaving them with one last image of her cast-able face
(She's been trained well).
Once safely out of the room she releases a muffled sigh-
Not out of the clear yet.
Don't give them an excuse to throw your headshot in the trash.
The receptionist, casting associates, the intern-
One wrong move....
If she's not professional, smiling, responsive,
The blacklist is waiting.
She's replaceable.
There are thousands who look like her.
She knows this.
Fears this.
Ignores this
Because out of all these pretty girls,
She has to believe her
Hair shines brighter, eyes spark more intrigue and curves attract extra attention.
They have to...
They must.
She's going to make all the right moves and meet all the right people.
Otherwise she might as well move back home and live the life she knows
(Her mother wouldn't mind).
Thank you for your help!”
The receptionist is on the phone and gives her a nod with a instinctual smile.
She walks through spotless glass doors to the outside, swings a right, and
Takes in a deep breath of smog-soaked air
With the looming sun-drenched sky beating down on her-
No sign of happiness,
Just relief.
She walks briskly- the last thing needed is another parking ticket.
Approaching a '91 Toyota Camry with three missing hubcaps
And a peeling, unrecognizable college window-sticker,
She opens the door, gets into the sauna and quickly rolls down windows.
Air conditioning stopped working four years ago-
Which was when she considered majoring in elementary education.
She starts the car with three and a half turns of the key
And quickly pulls out of her metered spot on Highland.
She has 13 minutes before her shift starts.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Reflections On Moving Forward


As I'm in the process of writing a new spoken word piece titled "Let Go," check out my other reflections on using the past to move forward.



From Same Page To Different Book

What happened to that acquaintance who exclaimed "Let's hang out!",
Then never responded to my text?
How about that co-worker who confined in me when his Dad was dying,
Then never brought up anything personal again?
Why did she say she wanted to date,
Then start dating someone else?
Lost connection. Miscommunication. Not worth it.
I need to know where I'm losing people.
Why do first impressions matter if the long term isn't valued?
I need to love and be loved.
And so do you. Just not by me.
My ego wrestles with practicality:
I'm not as desirable as I hoped.
I was a fad, mistake, or someone to hold you over
Until you found an acceptable support system-
I was tolerated.
What hurts the most is
We had a connection that meant more to me than you.
I am embarrassed at being left out in the cold
When the door was propped open just a feeling ago.
And I'm sorry,
The careless "I've been super busy" excuse
Doesn't work on me.
You take time for what is important.
In the moment I was important,
But being convenient is emptying.
So as I mourn my loss,
I force gratefulness on your gain.
Thank you for the connection we shared before you
Found more meaningful relationships to pursue.
My only regret is taking our moment
For granted by assuming
It would never stop.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters...

So far, I have 8 Spoken Word pieces on YouTube.  Here is the second one I posted titled "Weakness Strengthened By Audrey (What Else Is New?) - a salute to all the strong women in my life:



And here's my most recent poem...

Need Vs. Want

“Want to come over and watch the game?”
It's not about football- I could just as well not watch the Vikings lose again.
It's about what happens in between snaps.
Conversation. Thinking out loud. Serious and ridiculous.
Adverting potential loneliness is always welcome with two single, hopeless romantics.
But quoting Seinfeld, going on rants,
And making fun of commercials (while wanting to be in one)
Are moments of purpose.
We're not solving world problems. We are creating trust.
So when one of us celebrates, it will be meaningful.
And when one of us gets pissed, we can calm the other down.
This is friendship.
And although my heart aches for a girlfriend, wife, family-
I'm happy.
Happy to know that watching the game
Isn't a waste of time.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

American Dream with a White Flag

Every Friday evening, I've been posting a new Spoken Word piece on YouTube.  Here's one I originally wrote senior year of college (2008) titled 'American Dream.'  Click here to watch the others.



 
And here's a newer poem...

White Flag

I loved to play!
Whatever the majority wanted to do in Pre-School, I was down.
You don't discuss when you're 5,
You do.
Flexibility was essential.
(Sweat pants trump jeans at that age)
It wasn't until middle school that everyone started tip-toeing on social glass,
Desperate to find their cliques-
A term disguised with the more justifiable term “friends.”
But “friends” limited interaction and stunted a learning curve-
It forced me to make decisions based on the viewpoints I borrowed from my parents.
If I didn't find my tribe, I'd be alone:
The most human of fears.
I had to conform to the game for survival.
As soon as labels defined me, joy shriveled.
The closed door of judgement wasn't unlocked, it was unhinged.
Day and night transformed into black and white with the command:
“Choose one!”
By high school debate was advertised as a positive
And we were told if we did not vote, we were neglecting civic duty.
Bitterness and political divides created what my preadolescence
Had only seen in Disney movies:
An enemy.
Breathing has become difficult.
I will put a stop to this fight:
It is past due to give up my right to an opinion.
It doesn't make friends.
I can't stop thoughts- but they're not as valuable
As my ego wants to believe.
My beliefs have created walls.
I want to bring people together, not divide them.
I want to play again!
No more cliques!
You are a people-pleaser, Michael-
Help them be happy to be alive!
People's respect and admiration is more important voicing
A selfish idea that will anger.
Being silently ridiculed is not a feeling I envy.
I surrender.
My sweat pants are going back on.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Poem about Hollywood (more to come)


Friday Night At Hollywood & Vine

Between the bus stop
And the patrolling cop
There's a stretched line
Of dressed up women
And impressed men
Waiting to pay $20 to listen to loud music
In a strobe-lit cave.
No more than 10 feet away,
The bus stop comes back into view.
Two short, stocky women who have long been called beautiful
Wait for the Red Line
After working double shifts.
The hospital-bright, glass-cased bus
Will be there soon.
Weathered faces look forward to sleep
As 18 year-olds with fake I.D.'s and 34 year-olds with fake sincerity look forward to sleeping in.
The painfully thin girl in a skin-tight sparkle dress
Walks alone with her arms crossed,
Purse dangling,
Skillfully maneuvering on stilts she saved for Fridays like this.
Maybe someone will think she's pretty.
Maybe she'll find THE guy.
The one who treats her like she's the only girl in the room.
Or maybe she'll just get laid.
Maybe she doesn't care anymore for a dream that's become a fantasy...
...The homeless man with a tattered suitcase of memories
Waits on a bench advertising the sexiness of Vodka.
As the Metro squeaks to an abrupt halt,
The messy-haired, unintentional character stumbles onto the bus.
The driver lets him ride for free-
The only price he can afford...
...Yards away seem like a mile
$20. $20. $20. And that's just for the privilege to buy a drink for $20 once inside.
There go the tips from all your hard work waiting tables, young actress.
Even if it's not worth it, it's the going rate for letting loose...
...Loose is skin of the elderly woman longing for retirement who
Pays a hard-earned $1.25 for every one-way trip back to Koreatown.
She always makes sure to have 5 quarters so she doesn't hold up the line.
And there's always a line at Hollywood & Vine.
The Clubbers and The Riders never make eye-contact-
Just fixate on their destination.
Both hoping.
Hoping to find home,
To avoid a Friday alone.
I envision both crowds meeting in the middle-
Maybe a food truck would satisfy both.
I want these opposites to realize that 
Between apathy and every eye roll,
There's common ground.
Pursue your needs tonight,
Bus-Stoppers and Club-Goers.
Because come Monday morning,
You'll both try your best to hide the fact that you
Look forward to Friday night.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Church and Karma

I've periodically attempted to reconcile with traditional worship for the last 6 years.  I just can't justify singing stock praises.  And even though some try hard to make it one, church is not a bass-infused, fog-invested night club where I can just ignore the lyrics and sway my limbs.  These aren't Katie Perry songs, these are hymns to God.  I feel dishonest when I use someone else's words to thank God.  I mean, if there's one Being I can't fool, it's the Creator.  Here is my most recent impulsive in-church thought:

"Exalt" the 500+ sang...Exalt...Lift up...God deserves praise, but does God want it?  Or need it?  Maybe God is wondering why we're not living what Jesus preached- why we condemn ourselves as sinners rather than hope-makers.  Lifting up others makes more sense.  Why else would we be commanded to serve.  Praising God feels like a deflection of who actually needs our attention: the strugglers.  I don't want to be ungrateful for the gift of life or the capacity for love but if we make time to be verbally thankful to God, then when do we take time to be actively thankful for God?  I guess action always made more sense than singing unless the singing inspires us to act.  It's easier to pray and sing to the Creator than show love to that manipulative friend or asshole stranger.  Refueling is what church is to me.  Worship is confusing.  But I refuse to be ungrateful.  I am fearful that bad habits will form if I don't sing praises/appreciation and that I'll be passively shunned by the community and argued with if I voice apathy for musical worship.  But God knows my heart.  And that's what keeps me honest.

On another note...a few weeks ago, this happened:

As I pulled into an open parking space on the street, a lady going the opposite direction stopped and addressed me, "Are you going to take that spot?"  Slightly confused, as I clearly just pulled in, I knew she knew the answer to that question.  I didn't even have a chance to say anything before she continued, "I was going to take that spot."  After an awkward pause of not knowing what to say, she upped the ante: "You took my spot."  I was already late to my destination and had never been confronted like this- it was like she was verbalizing common thoughts that one usually keeps to themselves.  Was I Will Ferrell's character in Stranger Than Fiction?  Clumsily I responded, "Ah, well, I got here first, so..."  She then went into desperation mode: "But I've been driving around for the past 10 minutes looking for a spot to park and I was going to park there.  Please can I park there?"  Okay.  I'm a people-pleaser because I want everyone to like me, but the chances of never seeing her again are pretty high, I logic-ed.  So, as politely as I could, in the gentlest voice I could muster I said, "No, I'm sorry.  I'm already here, so I'm going to take this spot."  The pouty demeanor drained from her face.  "I hope Karma's a bitch!" she exclaimed before violently peeling out.  I then proceeded to walk to church.  Once there, I fought the urge to pray against the bad karma she bestowed upon me.