Archive for the 'comedy' Category

The Play Reading

Cranky just finished writing a play. I was invited to participate in a reading series and to have a new work read. Cranky didn’t have a new work, but said yes anyway and planned to just make one up.

A deadline is a great thing for a writer. Until, of course, the deadline comes. Cranky made up most of a play sitting on the couch in her living room. Went to places she had literally never gone before. Then it was four days until rehearsal and six days before the reading, and the ending just fell off a cliff. And let’s face it, you got no ending-you got no play. Or movie or TV show for that matter. I am still resentful that I lost so many hours of my life watching Lost. If it was all a dream go fuck yourself. So there I am. The ending hasn’t been cracked. I pace around, say a prayer and thank goodness get an idea. The next few hours I keep running to my computer to add things. I wake up the next morning and grab my computer and start typing before getting out of bed. The dog looks at me funny because Cranky has never done this before and dogs are all about routine.

The night before the rehearsal I send the completed script to the six actors. I am thrilled and love the play. The day of the rehearsal I wake up and I hate the play. I’m sure all the actors hate it too. Especially the one I am closest too, who asks me if I will have time to “talk about the play” after rehearsal. The phrase “talk about the play” will send any playwright into a paranoid tailspin. Especially Cranky. So I walk around all day in a panicked state. The thought crosses my mind that I hope there is an earthquake on Thursday so we won’t have to read the play. Or maybe I will have to perform an emergency C-Section on the play and completely rewrite it in one day. I’m sure that the fact that I wrote anything good in the past was a fluke. And that I will never write another play again. That I am not a writer at all. I’m like “Please, please where are the disasters when you need them? How about a little blackout on Thursday? That will do the trick.”

The actors arrive at rehearsal. They all look very happy to be there and enthusiastic. I am sure this is because they are good actors and they are just acting. Then we read through the play. It’s actually good. They are laughing. It’s the perfect combination of sad/funny funny/sad that I like. The rehearsal goes really really well. I’m still nervous about the “talk about the play” person. We go to a diner and she asks if she can change three words. Three words. And tells me it’s a great piece. The earthquake/blackout wish starts to fade.

But we’re talking about the wonderful world of theater were nothing is a sure thing. Ever. The night of the reading there is a full house in the event room of the restaurant hosting it. Before the performance I notice one of the actors downing glasses of Guinness. When he orders another I ask him if he can perform after drinking beer. “Oh sure,” he says.

Everybody is happy. The reading begins. The first scene comes off great. Then comes the second scene with Guinness guy. He is inaudible. I don’t mean a little bit. I mean you can’t hear him AT ALL. It looks like I stuck a mime in there with the speaking actors for experimental reasons. Cranky does not write experimental theater nor does she want to see it. I can’t explain the physical sensations of anxiety that are running through my body. I hired him because his girlfriend asked me if I had something for him. Cranky did it to be nice. And he was a child star on some television program and has been in a bunch of movies. All I can say is, “Dude, Hollywood is calling get the fuck off the stage.”

When it is over I apologize to everyone I know in the room. Some people liked it anyway. Most of them were sitting in the front row.

But alas, such is the way it goes sometimes in the world of a thespian. And when all is said and done, I have written a new play.

Last Day of the Webisodes

Cranky had her last day of shooting the webisodes last week. I can’t believe we made it though all eight episodes. Amazing. Everyday there were grumbles among the crew about leaving. The sound guy said he couldn’t make the last day. Early on, one of the producers kept telling the crew to stick it out. Then she decided to actually show up on set and work with the production. She lasted two days, then she split.

Then the last day was pushed up by five days. Nothing was ready. There was stuff to be built. Wardrobe to pull. I got an email from the wardrobe person that used the word HAVOC. I had been scheduled to work that day and since money trumps webisodes, I had to go to work. So the whole day had to be shifted for a later call time – 5pm. Oh oh. We know what that means, an all-nighter. Cranky becomes non compos mentis after 1am. That’s it. I’m done. I’m either laughing or sleeping. Speaking of sleeping, one day on the set I was doing a scene that takes place in a spa bed. And Cranky actually fell asleep between takes. I swear. I woke up to hear the word “ACTION!” It was very surreal. And Cranky remembered her lines! Another webisode miracle.

So I show up on set and set pieces are in the process of being built on the sidewalk. The makeup and hair people have total pusses on. When my hair is being done it is completely fried by the hair lady who keeps it in the curling iron like FOREVER. But the puss makes Cranky afraid to say anything. Curl, fry, smoke, curl, fry, smoke, curl, fry, smoke, over and over to my poor hair. Which means I will have to get an extra, unscheduled haircut to undo the damage.

We have about three days worth of work to do in one day, or night I should say. But it is webisode world, and the producer got the space for free, and this is the day we got it, so it is do or die. The space is a regular sound stage and we needed a place to shoot scenes that take place on the set of a soap opera. Cranky is playing a soap star. They actually made a mock magazine cover with my face on it. I know it’s stupid, but it is still on my coffee table. Like maybe it is true and not just a prop.

All my first scenes of the day take place in a hospital bed. Hospitals are big on soap operas where there is always a crisis or a shooting. Or a coma. One of the crew lends me his Soduku book so I have something to do for the hours in the hospital bed. Of course, as an actress, I hate the fact that I have practically no makeup on because I am in a hospital. I was in a hospital once. I put on makeup EVERDAY. And earrings. And a velvet robe. I told them that, but they said that it was not normal. Really? Cranky is not normal? So I got no makeup.

Then around 1am it was time to get ready for the wedding scene. Cranky is the fucking bride. I kid you not. I am sure that by this hour Cranky looks like Miss Havisham in a white veil. And both dress choices are strapless and I have to figure out a way to keep my breasts from getting out of control and spilling out everywhere. And Cranky has always said no one over forty should wear a strapless dress. And here I am being FILMED in one. But the wardrobe person tells me we are lucky to have ANYTHING. FOR NO MONEY.
So in the words of Tim Gunn I have to make it work. I keep trying to get the veil to cover my armpits. At this point a Burka/veil would be much appreciated.

I go downstairs to the room that they have been furiously decorating for the wedding scene. There are like forty extras in the scene. The first time we run the scene I am walked down the aisle by a man and all the extras stand. And I can’t believe this faux wedding brings tears to Cranky’s eyes. Seriously, how lame. Cranky is crying at her own fake soap opera wedding. Because Cranky never had a wedding and right now Cranky thinks her husband hates her. So I am thinking, “Don’t cry. Don’t cry. You stupid idiot! Don’t Cry!” I try thinking about the latest episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” It takes three takes to stop the tears from happening on the walk down the aisle.

Then I realize that I know the story line, and that my fellow actors the forty extras DON’T. So they don’t know that when I do the soap opera scenes I am doing kind of over the top bad acting. Oh no!! So between Takes I am on the stage by the priest and I stop everything. I say; “EXCUSE ME! I HAVE TO MAKE AN ANNOUNCEMENT! I AM NOT A BAD ACTRESS. I JUST PLAY ONE ON TV.”

I couldn’t help myself-or my ego couldn’t help itself.

So the working on the webisodes is over now. And it was a big pain in the ass. And like every actress I am so sad that it is over and I miss it like crazy.

Cranky Gets A Money Gig From Craig’s List- HELP!!

The recession is annoying Cranky. I had a nice freelance money job. But now that job isn’t paying me any money. So I ended up in the bizarro world of Craig’s List looking for some kinda job thing to bring in some dough. This is how my life turned into a Seinfeld episode.

I got a job working for Oscar the cranky old guy. Only Cranky would find a job like this. Luckily I am splitting the job with a model so we both can go on calls. And I tell him I can never come in until eleven because there are only so many hours of this I can take.

Here is my day:

Play one message from an unintelligible friend six times to try to figure out what the hell he is saying. Finally give up and play it for Oscar who immediately recognizes his fellow octogenarian’s garble and calls him back. Call the city to fight a parking ticket and use the term elder abuse to get out of it.

Then it is lunchtime.

Every day at 12:30 Oscar hands me a ten-dollar bill and says; “See if they have Matzo Ball. If they have Matzo Ball soup just take the Matzo Balls and put them in a different soup. I don’t like the soup the Matzo Balls come in. I don’t like the Jewish Penicillin.

Tuesday at lunch time: “See if they have the Matzo Ball…”

Wednesday at lunch: “See if they have the Matzo Ball….”

Thursday: “See if they have the Matzo Ball….”

After four weeks of this I realize that Morton Williams Supermarket hasn’t had Matzo Ball soup for the past hundred years, but I will never stop hearing the Matzo Ball speech.

So we eat our soup.  As Oscar takes his last spoonful he starts to nod off and ends up taking a nap on the leatherette couch in his office with a sweater over his head. One day the sweater slips and I see his frozen face with unseeing eyes and mouth open. I think; “Oh shit! He’s dead! What am I gonna do? Who do I call? I’ve never had a dead boss before.” And then I hear a little snore and realize that Oscar sleeps with his eyes open which is one of the scarier things I have ever seen in my life.

After lunch comes the most important business of the day. Now we must go on and send emails to women. Oscar pulls up a chair and looks over my shoulder at the computer while we do searches for women. I am so in the world of weirdos now I am beside myself. Yesterday he started yelling: “Find me more women! There must be more women! Can’t you call someone you know that uses who can tell you how to find more women?”

Ah, yeah.  I know how to navigate What I don’t know is how to get any twenty-eight to thirty-eight year old woman to write back to an eighty-year-old man looking for a date, a relationship, a wife and a NEW BABY. Ah, yeah. A NEW FUCKING BABY. Unhappy with his  eighteen-year-old son, he has decided that he should get a new baby. And the way to get a new baby is to get a woman in her childbearing years to go out with you. Oh and she must be tall and thin. TALL AND THIN.

This shit is giving me nightmares. I keep seeing Oscar’s fungus finger pointing at pictures of young women.  Is it worth the hourly rate? The Matzo Balls and floating around my brain when I leave there? The listening to him pee with the bathroom door open? Or how about walking by the door of his office, as he is about to pee in the empty soup container from lunch because he is too old and tired to walk to the bathroom?

Seriously,  the economy better get better because I don’t know how long I can take this shit.

Yesterday was doing with Oscar dictating over my shoulder. It’s a good thing he doesn’t  see very well,  so he can’t see all the typos I will have to go back and correct later. So he is dictating a note to some beautiful young Brazilian woman. I am feeling sorry for her that she will get a response to her lovely picture and open it and find it is from grandpa. Anyway, he is dictating that he went to Rio once but couldn’t go to the beach because he is very fair skinned. Then he says his ability to meet women is small because he doesn’t like cocktail bars. Then he says he hates large groups of people because he finds most people are insufferable bores. While I am typing I think, “Way to go Oscar. Way to get a date. Sound like a complete misanthrope. Great way to make an impression- expose yourself as having the emotional intelligence of a bi-valve.”

And then it happens. Cranky has an uncontrollable laughing fit. As it is bubbling up I am thinking; ‘NO. STOP! DO NOT LAUGH! DO NOT LAUGH! HE WILL SEE YOU!” Which makes if even more funny, so I dissolve into a hysterical laughing fit in front of him.

Fortunately, he thinks of himself as a great writer and as I am laughing with tears coming down my cheeks he says; “It’s a great letter, right? What do you think?”  “Huh?”  I think, “Don’t ask me what I think! I can’t tell you what I really think.”  And then it comes to me.  I say, “You sound like Woody Allan,” and I am able to save the day.  Thank you Second City Improv.  Thanks for the skills to save my job with Matzo Ball man.

I Love You J.D. Salinger

I can’t stop thinking about J.D. Salinger. It may be trite to say, but I love J.D. Salinger. Trite, because really everybody loves J.D. Salinger. Except maybe my redheaded stepmother, who I think never read a book in her life. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m sure my other stepmother never read him either, because her reading choices never ventured beyond Sidney Sheldon.

Yes, definitely the making of an actress. Two horrid stepmothers, a stepfather, and two, or three estranged parents, depending on whose story you believe.

I discovered J.D. Salinger when I stole Catcher In The Rye from my big sister and read it. I tried to hand in a book report on it in seventh grade and it was rejected because it was on a list of unsuitable books or something. It was Westchester after all. They told my mother I was reading unsuitable books, but really she could care less.

So one Sunday, when I was making the usual stop after church with father no. 2 to pick up the Sunday paper at Lippy’s, the candy/toy/comic book/book store, I checked under S and found more books by this Salinger guy. I saved my allowance and eventually got to buy all three. For the longest time I kept looking for more of them, until somebody tipped me off that no more were ever gonna come. Ever.

I took them with me when I had to go to Massachusetts to visit the first father and his second wife, the redheaded stepmother. It was horrible there. The only saving grace was that they had a dog, who I spent all my time with. Laddy. Laddy, the bright light in the long summer with the evil stepmother.

The stepmother who hated me.

And the first father, who tried to make up for everything by buying me things, which we had to hide in the trunk of his car until I left, because evil stepmother would be furious if she knew. The first father, who was tragically handsome, but could never get the family thing right. He really wanted a wife and kids and a dog, he really did. He just didn’t know how to do it. His mother was a divorced chorus girl who went back on the road with some follies or other and left her boys with various uncaring, unkind relatives. I heard he kept running away. So he didn’t know how the family thing was supposed to work or something, I guess.

I will never forget the long boring summer in the town of one-story houses. The baking heat with not a tree in sight. Flat. Hot.

The stepmother who couldn’t clean or cook. She specialized in flirting with other people’s husbands. They actually moved a lot because of her affairs with neighborhood married men. Even though I was a kid, I kind of thought “Fuck you Daddy,” in the back of my mind, “You cheated on Mommy with the redhead and now you got what you deserved.”

The other thing she was good at, was watching T.V. The minute the father put the key in the ignition to head off for work, the kids were thrown in the backyard, the shades went down and the television was switched on. She sat there all day smoking cigarettes with her short nails with the red nail polish. I always admired her hands. They were the opposite of my hands. She had long fingers and wore a big fat wedding ring. Her short nails were big enough for polish. My hands were small little things with tiny nail beds. They were no match for hers. Next to her ashtray was a bottle of beer that she spent the afternoon with. Shlitz or some awful thing. Merv Griffin was the high point of her day. “Merv is on, “ she would say. I would come in from the glaring sunlight and watch it with her. How she kept her figure with all that beer was a mystery. Except thinking about it now, I never saw her eat. I know Irish people like that. They exist on drink. No food.

That summer she played Robert Goulet records on the stereo a lot. I know if Robert Goulet had lived in the neighborhood she would have had an affair with him. She was probably having fantasies that Robert Goulet would come and rescue her from that barren suburban landscape.

She couldn’t cook. If she tried pancakes, there was raw batter in the middle. Her vegetables were canned, which I found really frightening. I couldn’t eat her food and she would get really mad a t me. My mother was a great cook, and I had never seen such a thing. She once made these pink ham steaks with curdled milk on top. She made me sit there for hours staring at it because I wouldn’t eat it. The house smelled weird, which really depressed me.

So it was into this landscape that I brought J.D. Salinger. I remember sitting outside reading one of his books and feeling the deepest resonating joy. He picked out the stuff of life that was funny and sad-making at the same time. I had escaped the land of the stepmother in my mind. I could think different, be different, and rise above the finks. I was learning, like Lydgate in Middlemarch by George Eliot, “… that books were stuff, and that life was stupid.”

My whole persona at the time was influenced by Salinger. When a beau told me that when I talked I sounded like New Yorker magazine I was thrilled.

I hope there is a closet full of manuscripts in his house and they all get published. Because I MEAN REALLY it has been AGES since I stopped hunting for more of his books under S at Lippy’s. Which was sad-making and all. So I salute you my literary Big Daddy. And hope everything gets published, because the phony reviewers can’t bother you now.

Cranky Has Gone To The Dogs

Am I still an actress? Will I ever get another job? Is anybody gonna call me again? Will I ever get another audition?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself. Then I got an audition.
And I missed it. Why? Because my entire life is about peepee and poopie. Cranky has gone to the dogs.

A new dog takes over your entire life. Mentally and physically. Shampoo the carpet five times a day? No problem. Walk around for an hour in the rain so the dog can go home and directly pee on the carpet? An everyday occurrence. Follow the dog’s every move to see what she wants to shred now? I’m there. Clean up mounds of shredded dirty tissues, cardboard toilet paper rolls, paper towels? OK. Tug on the tug toy obsessively for hours? I have time for that. Watch as she tears my bedspread to shreds? Yes – she looks so cute doing it.

But remember and appointment? I would have to stop paying attention to the dog for five minutes to figure that one out.

Recently she has started chasing her tail which made me really nervous because I’m afraid that might be a sign of doggie mental illness and that runs in my family and believe me it is not pretty. That must be curtailed immediately.

So on the audition day I was so busy with the dog I didn’t check my calendar until five in the afternoon. The audition was at 11am. Whoops. I called the casting director to explain that my entire life was about peepee and poopie and that I was really sorry. Guess I didn’t make a good impression.

When I answer the phone now I say, “HELLO SHREDOMATIC INCORPORATED.” If I could figure out how to turn this into a money making enterprise that would be great. Stuffing for throw pillows? Because times are tough. When we brought the dog home I looked her in the eye and said, “ Listen dog. We have nothing. But we are willing to share our nothing with you.” To which she turned around and ran gaily through the apartment, her ears flapping in the breeze, looking for the nearest dirty tissue to shred.

It seemed highly impractical to adopt a dog at this time. But a little silly in your life is always a good thing. Take a leap of faith they say and the universe will follow.

Every time I walk her people ask; “What kind of dog is that?” Over and over. “What kind of dog is that?” “What kind of dog is that?” Ah…a black dog? She’s a rescue, so nobody knows. But everyone has an opinion. The vet: “Oh, she’s a dachapoo.” The man on the sixth floor; “Definitely a spaniel and a dachshund.” My husband, “Look at her. She a Petite Bassett Vendoodle.” Huh?

I can’t take it anymore, so I actually ordered a doggie DNA kit. Which is ironic because Cranky has never been 100% sure about which guy her father is. (So typical that an actor would come from some questionable parental situation, huh?  Are fucked up families like actor factories?) I’ve always been too spooked to do the DNA thing for myself but I will soon know the exact lineage of my dog.

Actually I’m very excited about it. I can’t wait to give her the cheek swab test and send it in. If it works well maybe it will inspire me to finally resolve my family questions myself. It all started when my brother told a story about going to a restaurant with my mother and stepfather when he was three. Three? He was six when I was born. My mother was still married to my supposed father. Hmmmmm. I asked how this could be and everyone got real quiet. Like weird quiet. I never realized until this moment how very Jerry Springer my life is. You would never know it to meet me. I think. I hope.

So maybe the dog will inspire me to do the test. Because it is a scary thing. My stepfather raised me and I loved him more than life. So if he is my real Dad I will be thrilled. Plus, then I will be only half related to the crazy relatives and wouldn’t that be wonderful? But if step dad isn’t my real dad I will cry for two days and do I really need that? But then I will have more material to draw on for future emotional substitutions.

So one step at a time. I’ll start with the doggie DNA and if that turns out good, like if she’s not a Yorkie and a Cocker which means Yappy and Snappy got together and had a puppy, or a Pit Bull and Lhasa Apso or some fucked up thing, maybe I’ll be brave and try it for myself.

Cast Pictures Anyone?

Had a performance last night with the FACHADICK COMPANY. They asked the actors to be ready and dressed in costume by 5:30pm so they could take cast pictures. So I would have to get there at 4:30pm to put on makeup and squeeze into my skintight gown and then sit around until 7pm with the spaghetti straps boring into my shoulders. And then do the show. Do the SHOW. After hanging around in my costume for two and a half hours before the show.

The director said, “These pictures are for you people! We’re doing this for you.” Oh really? Really? They’re for me? Just what I always wanted! Pictures of myself with the FACHADICK COMPANY that I can look at for the rest of my life and reminisce about my mini nervous breakdown at the Westway Diner. So my answer was, “Too busy, can’t make it.”

I walked into the theater at 6pm yesterday and everyone was sitting around the stage and in the audience. I ask the director, “Are you done with the pictures already?” “Ah, no,” he says, “the photographer never showed up.” Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha. I got that wonderful feeling inside, when you trusted your gut and you were right. Etta, my husband’s grandmother would have said I was QVELLING. Yes, yes, I was QVELLING inside.

Then he said, “But he might show up, so if you want to hurry and get your dress on you can get in the pictures.” Cranky had no intention of hurrying. Cranky just gave him a blank stare. When he didn’t show up for tech he lost his director status in my mind. So I go to the powder room. And when I come back the stage manager says to the director, “Did you tell Cranky the photographer isn’t coming so she doesn’t have to hurry?”

We had a very kind audience. They were laughing, laughing, laughing. You gotta love that. During the performance a couple of us were hanging out on the fire escape stairs waiting for our entrances and two people from the show in the theater two floors above came walking down the stairs. They went right to the entrance to the stage and mouthed, “Is this the bathroom?”

Was Cranky tempted to say yes.nWould it have hurt the play if two strangers wandered onstage? We will never know because Cranky did the right thing and directed them to fly hallway, where now half the lights are burned out, so you can’t see the flies coming.

The Fucked Festival

It all started when I tried to make a phone call on my husband’s IPod. “What are you doing? he said. “Huh?” I said, “trying to make a call.” “That’s my IPod!” he said, as I tapped the screen with my forefinger. “Oh. Really?” I said. Oh oh.
I thought I was keeping it together really well. I was like, “Wow I am under duress and I am handling it very well.” Then these kind of things started happening and I realized I wasn’t handling it well at all.

A few days later I picked up my cell phone and listened for a dial tone before I dialed. Oh oh. This is the kind of stuff that happens to me when I’m stressed.

I got up this morning and told my husband I wouldn’t be home for dinner tonight because I had a rehearsal. Then I emailed another director to ask if I could bring a guest to tomorrow night’s screening of a film I was in. Then I got a call from a friend and she consoled me when I told her how I had spaced and had missed an audition last Thursday afternoon. Then I emailed my scene partner to tell him we could work tonight if we went up early because my rehearsal was at 8pm. AND THEN I got an email from the film director saying, “The screening is NEXT WEEK.”

I ran to my Filofax and realized I had it flipped open to the wrong page and had made all these plans based on NEXT WEEK’S schedule. So I had to call my husband, email the director, email my scene partner and change everything and find the sides for the audition I DIDN’T MISS. This is not good.

I have an ex-boyfriend from high school, Bob, who is basically a shut in. He was the coolest guy in three towns, gorgeous and in a band, had a car and killer blue eyes. Funny, how a lot of the cool guys are losers or go to jail after peaking in high school. Bob stays up all night watching TV, gets up at 2pm, takes his psychotropic medication and starts watching TV again. Once when we were talking he said, “You know Crank, I know all about what is going on. I know all the news and everything. But they never tell you what DAY it is.” I immediately sent him a couple of World Wildlife calendars with a note saying:

Dear Bob,
Not knowing what day it is NOT ATTRACTIVE.

Now Bob and I are in the same boat! And I had to fix it. So I looked at my life and identified the stressors. A sick relative that I take the loser bus on a horrible trip to depressed upstate to visit. Can’t change that. Rehearsing a show. Don’t wanna change that. The specter of co-producing a piece that I wrote with a summer festival in NYC. Ah-hah! Must change that.
I realized that my mind has been going in circles ever since I got accepted into this apparently disorganized festival. If you hear the word festival, run. I was notified in April that my play had been accepted and would get the performance dates by May 6th. I needed the dates to figure out the timing of casting and rehearsals. The festival runs for a month, and if my dates were far enough from the dates of the play that I’m IN, then I was gonna perform the piece myself. But if the dates were close to the play I’m IN, then I would cast another actress. It’s a 20-minute one-woman piece. Also, just in general, it would be kinda nice to know what I can and cannot do for the rest of the summer. And a 20-minute monologue needs some serious rehearsal time.

So May 6th comes and goes and no dates. So does May 7th. 8th, 9th, 10th, 11, 12th. 13th, 14th, 15th, 16th. 17th. 18th, 19th, and 20th. I send the festival four equally spaced emails explaining that I cannot proceed until I know the performance dates. Do I get an answer? NO. NO. NO.

All this time my mind is stuck going in circles. “Should I start working on it? Should I talk to the actresses I know and love? Should I start working on it? Should I have an audition? I wonder if that blond actress I like is doing anything now? Is someone gonna wanna learn a 20-minute piece for three or four performances?” I feel like the festival is now torturing me. On purpose. How long does it take to make up a schedule? Does the festival care about the playwrights? Or does it just wanna collect the door? Is this usury? Do I hate them now? AH, YEAH. So I run to my computer and write this email:

Hi All,
I’m sorry to report that I have accepted a role in a production that runs until mid-July. I have been waiting to hear the performance dates for my piece since May 6th – the original date given to me that we would be receiving our performance dates. I’m terribly sorry, but I have to withdraw from the festival, as I can no longer keep my life on hold waiting to figure out my schedule for the near future.

I know you must have your reasons, but it seems inconsiderate to me and a sign of a lack of organization. It does not give me a good feeling about the festival to be continually put off about what I will be doing with my life for the summer. I do need to be able to make plans and say yea or nay to job offers.

Ahhhhhhh. And the minute I send it, I can think again.

Actors Get In Line

I woke up on Thursday morning to find this email in my inbox. It was sent at midnight on Wednesday:

“Hi Cranky,
I’m an undergraduate student shooting a short for my Columbia filmclass with Julie Wolfer. She recommended you to me personally. My project is about a reclusive former film star and her relationship with her guilt-ridden son. I’d love for you to be in it. Would you be interested and available this Friday? It’s such late notice but if so, I’d be happy to send you the script right away.
Thanks for considering this on short notice. Hope to be in touch soon.

It is Thursday morning at nine am when I am reading this. My first instinct is to say no. I mean I am Cranky, and it is nine am.

I’m wondering why anyone would wait this late to cast something they are shooting TOMORROW. Maybe the actress dropped out? That happens. So I decide to be a good egg and all and answer immediately:
At 9:00 am on Thursday morning I write:

Hi Michelle,
Do you mean tomorrow? How long is the script?
I think I can do it. Send me the script, OK?

So I wait for a reply. Nothing at 10. Nothing at 11. Nothing at 12. Nothing at 1.
I kinda need to know what I am doing tomorrow. And the window of opportunity for actually studying the script is closing, as I will be busy from three o’clock on today. So now I start obsessing about something I didn’t want to do in the first place.
I go to the computer at 1:45pm and write:

Hi Again,
Could you call me when you get this so I know if we are on for tomorrow?
Thanks so much,

At 2pm I get a called from a wimpy girl saying, “Ah um, oh hi, ah, actually I found someone. But now I need to find a guy to play the son. So I might not be able to film tomorrow. If I don’t find someone to play the son today to shoot tomorrow are you available the day after tomorrow if I have to do that?”

There are so many todays and tomorrows I am thoroughly confused.

She emailed me at midnight saying how she would LOVE for me to do it. I answered her at 9am. So what does this mean? Are there actresses poised at their computers between midnight and 9am ready to reply to casting inquiries? The answer would be YES. How many actresses got the “I’d LOVE for you to be in it” email? Why would you love us? Because we are breathing?
The “role goes to the fastest” situations are too weird. The worst example of this was when I went to an EPA for a theater out in the Hamptons. The bus from the train station was full of actors going to the same place. When we disembarked from the bus, everyone realized that we were all going to sign in and audition in that order. So they started to run. It was an ACTOR STAMPEDE down the main street of Sag Harbor. I’m not kidding. What did that look like to the residents of the town? People dressed up in city clothes, guys in jackets and women in heels and character shoes full out stampeding down Main Street. It was sooooo embarrassing. My friend and I refused to run. She has since dropped out of acting. We had to wait like two and a half hours to go in because we didn’t join in the panic jog.

Actors feel like they are always waiting on lines and sometimes get so used to being ill treated that if you like offer them a glass of water and a place to sit at an audition it is very appreciated.

I used to get my headshots done at a place on 14th Street, which has since gone out of business. It was uncomfortable and not nice. And there was always a huge line that was right there as soon as you got off the elevator.
The guy who worked the counter had a drinking problem and somehow kept his job. Maybe they figured he was good enough to wait on actors. I don’t know. Anyway, he was an evil drunken southern queen.

One day I am waiting on a line to pick up headshots and the evil queen sees me. He yells out the most offensive thing he could possibly say to me and laughs. I just turned on my heels and left. I was done. He came out from behind the counter and chased me into the hallway and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry! Come back. I didn’t mean that.”

So I went back in with him. I did need to pickup the headshots. What else was I gonna do? I turned to him and said, “LOOK, I GET MY BALLS BUSTED ALL OVER TOWN. I DON’T WANT MY BALLS BUSTED WHEN I’M PAYING FOR PICTURES!”

Another actor on line immediately turned to me and said, “Wow! You actually have any balls left?”

To Show Or Not To Show That Is The Question

Cranky had to ask herself a hard question yesterday. I got a call for an audition and had to ask myself,” Do I really want to be in another show”?

Film – you’re in and you’re out. Theater is a bigger time commitment. And I’ve shied away from theater because I was traumatized by the last psycho director I worked with at LaMaMa.

So this group asking me to audition sends me the script. I don’t like it. The character I was auditioning for has another character put his hand on her breast – TWICE. Yuck. And the ending was completely stupid. This is where the English Major and the actress in my mind go to battle. Because you can be a SNOB or you can WORK. But you can’t be BOTH. Unless you are famous. And we all know I’m not famous, so I’m f____d.

So I force myself to work on it. They were very professional. Love that. They sent me the whole play to read and the exact sides I would be reading. And an appointment time. THANK YOU.

And by working on it, I realized the dialogue was actually really good. Maybe the play wasn’t so bad, and my phobia was tricking me into not liking it because I’m gun shy about doing theater. My neuroses was making me hyper-critical.
So when I got off the subway and I was walking through Hell’s Kitchen to the theater, I made a deal with myself. “See that restaurant over there? Well if you do a good job and get the part you can go there after the show,” I told myself. Good, bad or mediocre, every show has the upside of going out after with friends after. Cranky loves that.
Also, I told myself, “Just think of the bumper crop of new stories sure to pop up during the many days and days and hours and hours of a theater rehearsal process.”

So I was in a positive head when I went into the waiting area. I sat down to work some more on the script. I had given myself an extra fifteen minutes so I could sit quietly and get into character.

And as per usual another actress who was also auditioning came in and started talking REALLY LOUD to some guy involved with the theater. “Oh wow! Hi! Great to see you!! I know this is gonna be a great project, but I’m not sure if I will have time because I’m really involved with SOHO REP. They are such nice people there. But, I mean, I want to stay OUT THERE. I really need to be out there acting. It would be cool to be involved here too, you know?” she said/yelled.

I refused to be an audience for these antics. I got up and went and sat on the other side of the room. Especially since the actress was standing so that she had her ass in my face. Was she sending me a message? When the guy left, she turned around and gave me the phony “I hate you” smile. “I hate you too,” my blank stare back said.

A child actor went in to read before me. His Dad tiptoed over and put his ear on the door so he could listen. If Dad keeps this up his kid has NO CHANCE. Oh, and the mother called on the cell phone to wish the kid GOOD LUCK before he went in. Nooooooo. Gag me. Leave the kid alone.

Cranky opened her mouth and told the Dad, “You gotta let him go. Let him go…..” Dad chuckled and said, “ I get so nervous for him.” Yes, and pass your nervousness on to him and he will surely succeed.

I went in and read my two scenes and did a good job and everything. I overcame my theaterphobia inflicted by the insane Italian director. I allowed myself to be inspired. I utilized Cranky therapy. The promise of fun nights in restaurants AFTER the show did the trick.

Port Of No Authority

Every time my husband and I go somewhere in the car we have a ritual. As we pull out of the garage and plug in the itunes I turn to him and say, “I love driving!” and he says, “Yeah? What part of driving do you like?” Because Cranky Queen of the Subways does not drive. Cranky is strictly a passenger.

And yesterday I realized I have to do something about this. Yesterday, when I had to take the loser bus to visit an ailing relative in a hospital in an area where no trains go. A loser bus from Port Authority. The loser station.

I have some traumatic memories of buses and yesterday brought them all back to me.

Cranky, like every other actor, is the product of a broken home. “Mommy” lived in Westchester and “Daddy” lived in Boston. And one year someone had the brilliant idea to put me on a loser bus instead of having “Daddy” drive back and forth from Boston. I was maybe eleven. Who are these people? What kind of parents were they? Did they even care if I lived or died? Stick an eleven-year old on a bus to another state? This is why I always say you should love your parents, but don’t take them too seriously.

I remember it clearly. I was creeped out. On top of everything, it was night. It was winter. I was going to see “Daddy” for Christmas vacation. The first near disaster came when the bus driver pulled into a diner parking lot and told everyone they had a fifteen-minute break.

I went in and sat at the counter.  I felt weird because I had never been in a restaurant alone before.  I ordered tea. I never drank tea. But for some reason, I felt that ordering a cup of tea went along with this whole new grown up life my parents had obviously pushed me into. So the tea comes and it is hot. Very very hot. So I sit there blowing on the tea hoping it will cool off enough for me to take a sip. Blowing and blowing and blowing. And then this waitress walks over to me and says. “Honey, aren’t you on that bus to Boston?” I say, “Ah, yea.” “Well you better get out there, ‘cause it’s leaving.” I swiveled off my stool and ran as fast as I could and caught the bus as it was leaving the parking lot. I had to bang on the doors to get the driver to let me on.

I mean really Mommy and Daddy, what would have happened if I didn’t catch it? Being the highly impractical kid I was, I might have attempted to walk all the way home on the Boston Post Road and then never been seen again. Hello? I was eleven.

So back on the loser bus after we left the diner, some man gets up and comes and sits next to me. I didn’t want anyone sitting next to me. It would cut into my daydreaming staring out the window time. But I couldn’t say anything. He was a grown up. He had been drinking, and even though I was young, I could tell he was trying to impress me by being witty and charming. He stunk like sickening cigarette smoke and booze. He was acting all like above it all and intellectual. And I thought to myself. “Yeah, right. You have to be a poor schmuck at the bottom of the barrel otherwise you wouldn’t be on this loser bus.” Luckily he fell asleep from the booze and left me alone the rest of the trip.

No wonder I ended up dating eighteen year olds when I was twelve. It was my parent’s fault. They wanted an adult. They got one. I could get into bars at thirteen. It must have been my worldly experience with the loser bus that made me pass. Or my parent’s insouciance for my safety.

That was the only time I took the bus to Boston. As was my M.O., I told my parents the hilarious story of almost missing the bus and the drunk man. “Isn’t that funny?” I laughed. “What a riot! Ha ha!” Thus proving the fact that comedy is born of pain.

Then there was the time I was going to visit a friend in lovely Farmingdale, CT. But to get to lovely Farmingdale I had to pass through the horror that was Port Authority at the time. It was early in the morning and when one of the pimp population said something weird to me I said, “What did you say?” And I started crying. It was too early. I hadn’t put on my hard New York exterior yet.

So yesterday’s bus ride brought all this back to me.

During the ride, I kept thinking my cell phone was ringing and grabbing it out of my purse and looking at it for like the first hour of the loser bus trip. “What’s that noise?” I thought to myself. It kept happening. Then I realized that the snore of the man sitting behind me sounded exactly like my new cell phone ring, which is jungle birds. See, this is what you get on the loser bus. People who snore like jungle birds in the middle of the day.

On the ride back there was someone yelling into their cell phone in Spanish. And a crying baby. And a yelling mother, “STOP! STOP! STOP! DON’T TOUCH!” And the man across the aisle had on frayed khaki pants and a red hoodie with the hood pulled up over his preternaturally tanned skin. He looked seriously insane. If my husband would have driven me to visit my ailing relative, I could have avoided the loser bus. But that wasn’t going to happen.