Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cops Risk their Lives... Every Time they Drive Home Drunk.

A few months ago on a week long stay in my home town I got stuck playing a game of cards with some of the locals. One of these locals happened to be a town cop. And I knew things were off to a bad start when I said "I would respect small town cops if they spent more time fighting crime and less time planning their next softball game."

But I understand, in a small town like mine, there isn't much crime to fight. Really the only dangers are overweight women in spandex. And to give cops a little credit, that can be quite scary.

And, I don't think I'm overstepping my bounds by saying that small town cops aren't the most open minded folk around (and I use the word "folk" very literally). They are often confused by art, insightful humor, people who live in big cities and to put it politely, black people. And nothing says "I played football in high school" like becoming a small town cop.

And, as many of my fellow stand up comedians would agree, it's better not to tell people you are a comedian because you will get the inevitable "Oh yeah? You're a comedian? Tell us a joke, comedian." My response to this is usually "I don't think you have the intelligence level to understand my jokes... they're not Knock Knock Jokes." And they usually respond by saying "I have this friend who's really funny. He told me this joke the other day. It was something like.. oh how did it go. It was hilarious. Oh I know what it was.. So a Mexican and a Jew walk into a bar..." Then I sit and fake smile at their lack of understanding what a joke is. It's very awkward.

Anyway, to my UNsurprise, the cop, out of everyone said that exact thing. "Oh yeah? You're a comedian? Tell us a joke, comedian." And to him I responded "You're a cop? Now if you were to spell the word 'you're' would you spell it Y.O.U.'R.E or Y.O.U.R.? This is a very telling way to discover someones intelligence level. And, if he chose correctly, I would have thought about possibly telling him a joke. But we never got to that point because he hated me immediately. Which was fine with me, except for the fact my car's license plate was highly visible from where we were sitting.

Now, it's been a while since this incident so I can't remember what happened next. I'm guessing the word fagot was thrown around lightly as well as the 'N' word, and the cop probably crushed about 5 or 6 beer cans on his forehead and once I had had enough I got one more jab in before I left... I said. "Hey Mr. Coppy... Are you going to drive home after you're finished with your 24 pack of Keystone?"

Then I ran like hell..

Now, I don't think all cops are bad. I have respect for the ones who really deal with the big bad guys. But, my respect went down a few notches last weekend when I was pulled over for my first time by the LAPD.

[Note: the following paragraph(s) to come contains all the things I would've like to have said to the cop but I didn't have the balls to so I didn't... The following are responses I wish I could have said but instead I was a sissy]

It was a Saturday, and as usual I wasn't doing anything too exciting. I was just on my way home from dinner when I saw a cop move over three lanes to get behind me. So, of course, I knew what was coming... He got out of his car and shined that ridiculously bright flashlight in my eyes. I said "Sir, please. Remove that flashlight from my eyes so I can see the man I have to fake attraction to."

Typically, he said "license and registration." I was like "yeah, nice line. Really original." And I gave him my license. He starred at it for an unusually long amount of time, like he was looking for something to be racist about. He couldn't find anything (although I do look slightly ethnic in my photo). So, he told me I had a break light out and I said (fake concerned) "Oh, no. Really?" (Which I thought was weird he said that because I had recently got both break lights changed)... And this was his EXACT quote "I wouldn't lie to you." I thought "Wow, what a stand up guy... he wouldn't lie to me. I should date that one."

So, a day or two later I go to get my break light fixed and the guys at the shop are like "Nah, miss yer break lights are werkin' jus fine." (that's how all mechanics speak, even the Mexican ones). So, the cop lied to me. Ridiculous because he said "I wouldn't lie to you." Like he made a point to lie and then made a point to say he wouldn't lie.

But anyway, when I was at the shop to get my break light fixed I figured since I was already there I should just get a quick inspection of my car... it's starting to age slightly. It's weird in Los Angeles cars aren't even allowed to age. So when they inspected it they found that my actual breaks were worn down to about nothing and they were about to go.

So, thank you Mr. Cop for misleading me. If it weren't for your lies, dishonesty, crookedness, deceit and flimflam, I probably would have been killed when my breaks failed on me. You're the reason I'm still alive. You are my untrustworthy hero.

I'll come thank you at your next softball game.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Background Actors are Unintentionally Hilarious. But When You're an Extra for a Yogurt Brand's Webisode it's No Longer Hilarious, it's Depressing.

I moved to Los Angeles about two years ago. And, like thousands of others, I had dreams of stardom. But, as my drive started to dwindle, so did my savings account. One day I made these struggles known to a stranger at an audition. They recommend I look into doing non-union background work. One week later I arrived on set for my first day of background acting. Little did I know, that would be the day I will remember as the day I lost my soul.

I used to believe that mankind was good. But that silly assumption came to an end when I started waiting tables. But it REALLY crashed and burned when I started doing extra work (Note: I purposely don't capitalize "extra." It might give the impression that it's a respectable job).

These extra casting agencies have more applicants than they know what to do with. They lure in suckers like myself using tag lines like "Jump start your career!" The only thing I'm jump starting after doing extra work are thoughts of suicide.

When signing up for background work first crossed my mind I thought "Well, it can't be that bad - flexible schedule, free food, the opportunity to hang out on movie lots and see first hand the way television is made." Doesn't sound bad, right?

Wrong. I'll translate my assumptions into reality for you.

Flexible schedule means 6:00 a.m. call time and 1:00 a.m. release time. Free food means eat away the pain of being a nobody. Hang out on movie lots means don't even think about going near the Star trailers. (And I quote) "you're not part of that world and you're not invited into that world." Stay in holding with the other plebes. And lastly, see first hand the way television is made means witness how music and editing makes these actors look talented.

Once you're on set, no one tries to hide how much background work sucks because the names used for the job: wranglers, holding, extras, background.

For those of you who have never have done extra work or been on a set, a "wrangler" is the person in charge of the extras. But, do they really have to call them wranglers? If I'm not mistaken, an actual "wrangler" is a ranch hand who takes care of the saddle horses. To the director and producers and to everybody who matters, you are the human equivalent of a saddle horse. And believe me, they'll shoot you if you break a leg.

The word "holding" isn't so charming either. While the principal actors are in their heated trailers, extras are set up in an empty building that is in no way made to support human life: no lights, heat, outlets and only a few metal folding chairs for the extras lucky enough to get one.

Finally, the terms "extra" and "background" are used in their most literal form. We are nothing more. We're extra. We're extraneous, inessential, superfluous, unused, unnecessary (thank you to for that self-esteem bash fest).

As if the terminology isn't dehumanizing enough, extras aren't allowed to eat at the same table as everyone else. Even the P.A.'s get to enjoy their lunch at the table's with salt and pepper shakers and pretty center pieces. Walking with a plate full of food back to holding is the ultimate walk of shame. The people who matter get to watch you slither away back to your black hole of failure with a plate full of macaroni and cheese. It's humiliating.

But what blows my mind most of all are the extras who are more than fine with their position in life. Who are you people? Do you not feel? Do you not cry? Do you not want? Do you not dream? Come on, WAKE UP! Don't let other people treat you like this. Do something more respectable like, stripping.

Doing extra work doesn't make you feel like a loser. It makes you a loser. Until you get cast as the principal actor, stay away from movies, television, commercials and worst of all, webisodes.

Dun dun dunnnn. Webisodes... I just worked as an extra for a webisode for a yogurt brand. Talk about no standards. It's one thing to be on a set with award winning actors. It's another to be on a set of actors worse than you. It'll drive you mad. These crummy actors are the first to walk around with a giant chip on their shoulder, too. "No fraternizing with the extras (animals), we're big time now. We're in a webisode for YOGURT."

All of this is all the more painful because I have, in my short stay in LA, been lucky enough to be cast in a few print ads and television things as featured or principal so I know what it feels like to be on the other side. Until I can be on that side consistently, I will stay away from the Slave-like treatment. (Note: I capitalize Slave-like because comparatively to extra work, it really doesn't sound so bad).