Thursday, September 01, 2005

Jack the Bartender

My only previous acting experience was a drug dealer in a drug and alcohol awareness program called "Eddie" at Westfield State College. To deter college punks from drinking and drugging, they have someone early in recovery tour with this "show", casting students in supporting roles to get them involved. "Eddie" is based on the true story of a kid that drugged and drank too much and died choking on his own vomit.

I jumped at the role when asked after I was told I could ad lib, meaning I got to call Eddie's girlfriend (played by an annoying co-ed I couldn't stand) a bitch and whine about how un-fun she was.

About a year ago, I joined a sober acting troupe called the Improbable Players. They travel to schools and put on plays about teen violence, drugs and alcohol and family dynamics etc. Except for several failed attempts to play the role of a sober driver in field sobriety tests administered by the state police, these are my only acting jobs.

Tonight I'm meeting with some people down in Marshfield to discuss, what would you call's not a pilot, it's like a pilot for a pilot. A "demo" I am told. These people made a pitch to some networky types, said networky types said, "put a 5-7 minute tape together of what the show is", so the people got in touch with a production company that is producing this little segment.

The series is about a bar with an open mic in it, and I was asked to play "Jack, the bartender". He also owns the joint.

The real Jack is about 40, so that's how old the character is. Problem: I am only 39, and I actually look quite a bit younger... can I really stretch myself that far in my first role? I told a friend I was not really an actor and she started howling and said something like, "oh please... you can act all right..." which I did my level best to take as a compliment.

Jack is a nice guy, on the quiet side, and does every job in the joint to keep it running. He is a new business owner, so he wears many hats. He's not a terribly funny chap, and I read the notes describing my character as "about 40, bitter" and started laughing.

So I guess I have to get into bitter mode, so I will fill my mind with unhappy exchanges with ex-girlfriends before we start filming anything.

The script is what they call a "loose script", meaning they tell you the gist of a scene and the actors work it out. There is some suggested dialog, but you can do whatever you want, apparently, which sounds fun. What they did was get a bunch of people they think are funny and plan to let them run wild. We'll see how long that plan is in affect after I show up in a beret, sporting a Peruvian accent, requesting to be called Jacque.

Someone will gripe that my name is now French, but my accent latin, I'll immediately demand my own dressing room, then the writers will fire us all and replace with actual actors.

This should be fun.


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