Monday, October 17, 2011
I’ve never been to court before. The closest I have come is when my friends and I took an issue to the principal. I had never been in the Principal’s office before, but we were desperate, and to go through the system was the only way for us to do it. At the start of the school year the 5th graders had taken control over the 6th graders’ basketball hoop. As 6th graders we had waited years for the opportunity and now our land had been illegally annexed by kids younger than us. Mrs. Soyster didn’t really seem to share our concerns for injustice, and our case was thrown out.
Now, I have my chance to get back into a courtroom.
Today, I had my favorite audition experience yet.
It was for one of those courtroom TV shows. Don’t think like big time courtroom drama, think lower. Don’t think People’s Court, think lower. Think about one of those shows where the show is named for the judge where the cases seem too silly and dramatic to actually be real, and it kind of seems like the litigants are actors. That’s the one. I auditioned for a show where they have actors play the plaintiffs and defendants and they improvise closely to a real court case.
I arrived at the location and the “lobby” was set up in the front part of a big studio. There were a bunch of chairs and a table to sign in at with a sarcastic British guy who either hated us individually, or maybe just everybody. I waited in a chair as a woman kept coming out and grabbing all the women and African Americans and pulling them into the room. One guy thought it was affirmative action, I just thought it was because there were real cases, so we had to match the actual people in the original case. This sort of thing is really the low of the low for acting as a lot of people didn’t even have headshots.
Finally, she came out and said, “I’ll just take all of you.”
We entered the room and I quickly realized I was walking into my favorite audition room yet. There were about 40 people and all the men were on one side while the women were on the other. The casting director would recap a case out loud to everyone, then she would pick out a person who fit the description of the plaintiff and point to them saying, “Why are you in my courtroom today?” The person would step forward in character and reply with the plaintiff’s side of the story as convincingly as possible. It was surreal. Then, she would point to someone who could be the defendant and say, “What do you have to say for yourself?” The defendant would improvise their side of the story. This would go on for awhile until they were happy and they would pull a couple of people into the office to get them the information for the taping.
It was glorious, I couldn’t stop laughing. I asked the guy next to me how long he had been there. He had been there for 4 hours. I was so jealous. At one point, she needed people that looked like they could be a family, so she created a corresponding white family and black family. She chose the black family because they had better answers. The affirmative action conspiracy theorist shook his head. We went through a lot of cases with a lot of actors giving it their all, it was pure awesomeness.
I finally got my turn later. The case was about a college kid who moved into a frat, but then moved out because there were rats and drug use around. The landlord was suing for back rent. The casting director tried a few landlords, then pointed to a few college looking guys to get their sides. Finally, she pointed to me as a college guy. I quickly went into it saying, “Your honor, I’m a good kid, and I have to say that I was surprised to see the cocaine. I can’t be living around illicit drugs. I knew this was going to be a frat house, but I had no idea it was going to be an Animal House.” I was not chosen.
Then, I had to go. I had only been there an hour, but I had to get to improv class. I said goodbye to my fellow men and snuck out. Luckily, I snuck out when the casting director left. I said to her, “Hey, I’ve got to run, but I have a ton of improv experience so I would feel really comfortable doing this.” She said, “Okay, I have you in mind for one case about a couple of guys who left their dates at a restaurant with the bill when it became clear they weren’t going to get any action that night.” Apparently, that’s the vibe I project. I said, “Good, I’m available.”
I didn’t know if I would hear from them, but this morning, I did. It’s official, on Thursday, I will be playing a defendant in a case about a fight at a movie theatre. That’s all I’ll say about it. I’m soo excited about it, not because it’s legit, but because it is so ridiculous. My greatest hope is that one of my parents’ friends will see it and call my mom and say, “I just saw Jeff on TV, is everything going all right? He used to be such a good kid.
I hurried to improv class and then had dinner with some friends at their amazing new house. I think having dinner with friends is one of my favorite things of all time…next to appearing on a courtroom show where I have to improvise that I’m a movie theatre fight kind of a guy.