Friday, April 30, 2010

Like A Sharp Stick In The Eye.

There’s regular disappointment, then there’s major disappointment. Like hearing your favorite athlete’s book is the Bible.

But nothing tops the heartbreak regularly caused by the petty skunks of the advertising business. You might remember them from blog entries regarding my cable company audition. Or the hot sauce debacle.

Well, the hat trick is now complete. A couple of months ago, my friend Wade, a creative director for an ad agency back east, was in LA, casting and shooting commercials for 1-800-CONTACTS. He called me the first day he was here, and told me to rush over to the casting studio to audition for a role as a Tom Cruise Top Gun character in one of the commercials. Wade asked me to keep it on the down low – just enter the room and act as if I didn’t know him. Not a problem. I went in, did my best Maverick, took direction, did it again and left.

I didn’t get the part.

Last night, on the eve of the commercial airing, Wade called me and apologized. He said I had blown away my competition, nailing exactly what he was looking for. But because I wasn’t listed on the regular casting sheet, Wade’s partner and the pair of directors they hired wanted to know who I was. When Wade fessed up that we were buddies, they ganged up on him and I was out, just because. And a lesser actor got the job.

My immediate response was pleasant – I understand the politics and pettiness of the douchiest assholes that dominate the ad biz, and I was thrilled that I had done my job and was the best guy that came in. But then Wade pointed out that I’d lost out on a big payday, including massive residuals, and I almost lost my shit.

Just as I was about to launch into a longer, more furious diatribe on my blog about what happened, one of my heroes, Newark Mayor Cory Booker, tweeted a great quote. I ask that we all read it and go into this weekend with a happy heart:

“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.”
–John E. Southard


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dinners And A Show.

Was there anything sadder than me, Monday night, eating only potatoes and ice cream for dinner? Yes. Tuesday night I ate only leftovers.

But yesterday things picked up: improv class, followed by a cagematch improv show with my classmates at the Upright Citizens Brigade. Yes, we brought canned beer into the theater. Yes, we are completely klassy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another Example Of The Man Keeping Us Polacks Down.

The highlight of this past weekend’s NFL draft: when league commissioner Roger Goodell hit the podium to announce the Steelers’ first-round pick, and the crowd at Radio City Music Hall gave a shout-out to QB/serial-rapist Ben Roethlisberger, chanting “She said no!”

Okay, sometimes I love New York.

Definite lowlight: when ESPN analyst Matt Millen popped up on screen apologizing to Polish people, after he jokingly called fellow commentator Ron Jaworski a “Polack.”

This is the same Matt Millen that, as Lions GM, once offered post-game congratulations to opposing wide receiver Johnnie Morton. When Morton blew him off, Millen shouted at him, “You faggot! Yeah, you heard me. You faggot!”

Let’s face it – Matt Millen has so much baggage, he's paying at least 120 bucks every time he flies American Airlines. And his most egregious blunder is a flat-out lack of creativity. A Polish joke? Really? Weren’t they all the rage in like 1972?

Where’s Jessie Jackson when my fellow Poles need him most? I figured he would have shown up at ESPN by now and shaken them down for some cash.

I guess we gotta nominate our own Jessie. I hereby nominate myself.

As Polish Jessie Jackson, my first order of business is to render judgment on my new favorite lunkhead. So here goes: I’m not really good with analogies, but Matt Millen’s a lot like an asshole.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Set Your TiVo.

Watching The Deer Hunter the other day, I came to a conclusion: if you ever see a Vietnamese guy in a business suit, smoking, with an eye patch, some bad shit is going down.

I also saw a promo for a Funny or Die short on HBO called The Carpet Brothers. It looked amazing. It’s the kind of stuff I want to make. It airs tomorrow morning at 4:10 a.m. In the meantime, click above for a promo. (Facebook people click here.)

Monday, April 26, 2010


I have fond memories from my school years. Like my crush on Julie Donovan. She was always so organized. In German class, Mr. Krueger always choose her to sort the students. He was eventually arrested by Israeli commandos.

Okay, educationally, the New York public schools were sketchy at best, and this was reinforced last week as I nearly broke out in flopsweat at the production offices of “Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?”

Let me scroll back a bit. My mentor, Stuart Robinson, always preaches to his acting students to get themselves on game shows. “They’re just giving away money,” Stuart pleads. “Get on, win as much as you can and use it to finance a film.”

My friend Avis, an actress here in LA, did just that. A couple years ago, every time I called her, she was studying every subject imaginable for her upcoming shot on “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?”

Avis won $180,000.

The questions Avis handled were impossibly difficult – hardly the stuff I remember from crappy New York fifth grade. But when the show came calling my way last week, offering my own chance at up to a quarter of a million bucks, I hightailed it over there for a tryout.

They put me on camera and asked me a dozen questions. I got the first ten right, then was stonewalled by #11: Who was the first American to win a Nobel Prize? (Teddy Roosevelt), and #12: What is the lightest gas? (Helium – though an argument could be made for my answer: hydrogen.)

Did anyone else know the answers to these types of questions when they were in fifth grade? If so, get your butt over to my place if they wind up wanting me on the show. I’m gonna need access to that oversized brain of yours, Doogie.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Doctor Is On.

With networks already airing reruns, TV has gotten so bad that I’ve become inspired by the Real Housewives of Atlanta – to marry WNBA players and spend all my time planning poorly-attended charity events.

But wait. Anyone as excited as I am to see Pacino play Jack Kevorkian on HBO tonight?

Here’s hoping Al playing a dude his actual age is the fluffer he’s been needing, because, let’s face it – 88 Minutes was pretty much career assisted suicide.

Fingers crossed.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Trivia Time.

When will the owner of this house in Silver Lake take down his Christmas decorations?

A) After Crazy Eddie’s Christmas in August sale.
B) When his neighbors make a 9mm “suggestion.”
C) The cops will, after they investigate that funky smell.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Man Knows His Stuff.

I’m no veteran when it comes to the entertainment industry, but one thing I know for certain: Susan Boyle is Benny Hill's best character, by far.

Actually, I learned early on the two most important words for any actor: patience and persistence. And you’d better maintain an even amount of both – too much patience will never scare up work; too much persistence, and you’ll wind up screwing yourself into the ground.

With the recession still hitting Hollywood hard, and the always slow summer around the corner, I’m going to need to brace for it and be one patient and persistent MFer. Helping out was this quote I saw yesterday:

“I realized early on that success was tied to not giving up. Most people in this business gave up and went on to other things. If you simply didn’t give up, you could outlast the people who came in on the bus with you.” – Harrison Ford

I’m going to pursue this business for the duration. There’s nothing else I’ll ever want to do. I’ve seen the alternative, having worked in various civilian jobs since I was 15. This meant I received all the respect and courtesy of your average, thieving crack whore, except I lost a third of my income to taxes. Pass.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Rainy-Day Query.

Yesterday, I drove by Spider-Man in front of Mann's Chinese Theater, and he was holding an umbrella. Shouldn't he be impervious to water?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

In This Corner: Booberry Canadian Holocaust.

As proud as I am about my work ethic, every now and then I feel like it’s time to start living like Michael Madsen in Kill Bill: liquor, trailer, desert, lethal skills, singular mission, boots, nothing to lose.

But until then, I walk the straight and narrow. Which is why, after my class last week, I went over to the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater and watched two improv troupes go at it on cage-match night. It works thusly: a team asks for a word from the audience as a jumping off point, and then has twenty minutes to improvise sketch after sketch until the clock runs out. Then the second team hits the stage and does likewise. The audience votes on a winner, which last week (and for the tenth week in a row) was the group Booberry Canadian Holocaust, who beat out a team of women that call themselves Michael Clarke Duncan.

I’m finding myself growingly more addicted to this improv stuff. I’m not sure what the end result of all the classes and exercises may be, but I kinda hope I get multiple personalities – I get really lonely in long showers.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Where’s The “How To Panic” Section?

America’s got the best government on the planet. Where else can a young black man work really, really hard so that someday he might grow up to be compared to Hitler?

Even on the local level here in Cali, the system works. After the Easterquake earlier this month, Assemblyman Ted W. Lieu sent out a handy brochure to help keep his constituents prepared for the big one. And if Teddy Politics cares this much about enlightening me, who I am I not to peruse this thing?

California’s Earthquake Preparedness Guide is chock full of super handy tips, like keeping extra medicine and pet food around, plus available cash. (Though personally, I’m going to use the opportunity to riot and shoplift Paul’s TV – The King of Big Screen.)

Also, this gem: “List three places where family members should plan to go if they cannot stay in or return to home.” Here’s my three: 1) Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. 2) The rubble my leg will be pinned under. 3) Ted W. Lieu’s house – he’s got available cash.

Thanks, Ted Dubya. If my district survives Armageddon, come November, I’m voting for you at least twice.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I Ain’t Making This Up.

I’d like to think I’m pretty open when it comes to just about anything. Except maybe my counselor at Camp Half Moon, when I was twelve. Long story short, after confirming it with my bunkmates, that counselor and his “friendship lotion” were transferred out of our cabin and we never spoke about it again.

Being present and open has been an absolute necessity in my new improv class at Upright Citizens Brigade, now in its third week. I like everything about it, but what I love it most of all is how incredibly tough it is.

Each week, my classmates and I are put through really challenging stuff, like the circle exercise, in which one at a time, we stand surrounded by our 16 classmates, who rapid-fire four questions at us. Even if you don’t know the answer, you’d better make something up, and make it sound credible. I was asked why oranges are orange, how a combine engine works, why McDonald’s stops serving breakfast at 10:30 a.m. and why one of the guys in my class is strangely attracted to the dudes in the movie 300.

Often, when the pressure’s on, I break into a sweat over a tricky improv scene, and I think to myself, if I wanted this kind of abuse, I should just have a conversation with my fifth-grade oboe teacher. But then I realize that’s what makes it great – being scared shit and coming through. Even if you think oranges are orange because there’s no damn way anyone’s eating a purple.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It’s Only Funny Until Someone Loses A Niece.

Sure, I love a good niece-gets-her head-gnawed-off joke as much as the next guy (and I especially did last fall) but maybe a smidge less after reading this the other day:

RI Zookeeper Butts Heads with Giraffe
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island zookeeper has been treated at a hospital for head injuries and released after butting heads with a giraffe.

A spokesperson for the Roger Williams Park Zoo told The Providence Journal that the 18-foot-tall giraffe was being playful and took a swipe at the keeper when she was cleaning up in a space between the exhibit and the public viewing area Saturday.
Spokesperson Jan Mariani said the 20-year-old Griffy is not an aggressive animal but likes to get close to people and get his head petted.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I’m Allowed One Racist Entry Per Year.

This is called “Mexican for Lunch.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Happening In Vegas.

My first trip to Las Vegas was a real doozey: my big brother’s bachelor party. I learned that a weekend there with a bunch of guys can shift from amazing to dangerous very quickly. It was like a scene from one of those action movies where everything's going great for the first 30 minutes, and then bad things start happening to the good guys. But before it happens, they throw in the happy dinner montage. That was us.

I’ve enjoyed going there many times since then with my friend Jeff. This week, however, Jeff is in Sin City on business – he’s a creative director at Active Storage, a company that does high-end digital storage for broadcast and post-production, and the NAB convention is happening this week. Jeff, the ultimate wingman and friend extraordinaire, chose to use my film, The Beneficiary, as an example of content for storage at his company’s booth. So in between collecting chachkis and lapdances, the convention’s attendees can get a nice dose of culture in the form of me. It’s an honor.

Thanks, Jeff. Your ride home from the airport is comped.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More Out-Of-Context Thank-You Notes I’ve Recently Written To Casting Directors.

  • I wish I could say this was the first time beer and a bad haircut got together in my life.
  • For the record, "no" on eating human flesh; "yes" on leaping off the Sears Tower.
  • Thanks for the bartender scene. And for letting me show my mom that serving all those drinks in college really did pay off.
  • Maybe now people will understand why I keep a can of Raid on me at all times.
  • I never left a job to spend more time with a daughter – but I did to spend time with a Pit Bull.
  • Thanks for letting me crack up your guy running the camera with my Vegas tranny material. (He’ll vouch.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

My Favorite Movie Of All Time Hasn’t Been Shot Yet.

Saw this casting call. It’s got everything I want in a flick, including blasphemy:

Upon taking her vows to become a nun, Sister Sarah is abused, brainwashed and drugged into submission by the corrupt clergy. On the verge of death from a lethal dose of drugs, Sister Sarah receives a message from GOD telling her to take vengeance on all those who did her wrong. Armed with God's will and an arsenal of big guns, she dispenses Judgment Day on her former tormentors. When the church hires the merciless motorcycle gang the 'Los Muertos' to track down and kill her they soon realize that this SISTER IS ONE BAD MOTHER.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Every time I see Andy Rooney on “60 Minutes,” I wonder: where are Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman holding him up?

Even though Andy may only have hours left on the planet, the good news is there’s a newer, younger, more worthwhile Andy Rooney to take his place: headshot guru Andy Rooney.

Whenever I’ve had to deal with laying out and printing my headshots, I’m always about ten seconds away from jumping over the printing place’s front desk, taking a bat to their expensive machinery and ending up on The Smoking Gun. I pay way too much, and make trip after trip to finally get what I want.

Andy Rooney 2.0 puts an end to all of that. He’s not only the cheapest in town, he’s super fast, super good, and everything is done via email until you only make one trip to pick up your prints. He oughta be the fifth head on Mount Rushmore.

Fellow actors, delete the number of the place you’ve been using, and go here:

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What The F Is Up With Actors And Bathrooms?

First, there was the hot mess that was the bathroom at my Monday night class. Now, we have this polite threat posted in the can where I take my improv class.

Actors, if you don't stop with these shenanigans, watch out – I know where to get a very big slingshot.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Nine Feet Of Sandwich. (Oh, And A Table Read.)

With my penchant for chain eating, I won’t feel truly successful until I have a sandwich named after me. And hopefully that sandwich will be as huge as my fat-guy aspirations.

Of course, my sarcastic readers would follow that last paragraph up with a joke like, "You should be named after a sandwich that's really mediocre, kinda like your blog." And honestly? That hurts. I just hurt my own feelings projecting your fake emails.

Last night, I attended a table read in which I read one of the lead rolls for a screenplay co-written by my friend Denise. I’m sworn to secrecy about the script, so more on that sandwich. It was glorious – meats, onions, peppers, three kinds of cheese. That’s right – they invented a third cheese.

Seriously, it was a great experience. A room full of 24 producers, writers and actors bringing an incredible script to life. I laughed. I cried. I fluctuated between German and American potato salad. It was Heaven.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Man At Work.

According to a psychographic profile I checked out, I'm apparently what you call an "urban achiever." I'm edgy, competitive, and I work hard and play hard. During the weekdays I'm entertaining clients and impressing the boss. Weekends I enjoy an active lifestyle of dating, night life and mountain biking.

Right. Just as soon as I can find my pants.

One of the chief reasons I love the entertainment business is because it isn’t work, or at least that’s what I thought until last summer, on a Wednesday night in New York. I was in a restaurant in the suburb in which I grew up, watching people enjoy a nice meal after commuting back from the city. Their day’s work was finished, and they were off the clock. I became fascinated by how normal people lived – they worked, they were done.

Meanwhile, I do three things every day to further my career. Plus drive 60 miles round trip to Hollywood four nights and one morning each week for classes and workshops. I make sure I work out four times a week and constantly watch what I eat. I read everything I can about the craft of acting. I even downloaded a concentration app onto my Blackberry, so that while I walk my dog, I can work on my script memorization skills. I write every day. I have a notebook filled with 465 ideas for my next film. I’m a lunatic.

Sitting in that restaurant, I felt like a complete slave to my career. Then I realized who’s cracking the whip. Back to work.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The First Great Film Of 2010.

In the 80s, there was a TV show called “Manimal.” It was about a doctor who had the ability to turn himself into any animal he chose. He used this ability to help police solve crimes.

May we all someday get our hands on a bag of coke big enough to push our shit idea past a network president.

I randomly referenced “Manimal" to a friend Friday night, and the next night we saw Hot Tub Time Machine, and the movie referenced it as well, plus had all the elements of a classic 80s film: drugs, hair bands and plenty of filth. Let’s face it – I love a good dick joke as much as the next guy – assuming the next guy is Joe Biden.

Hot Tub Time Machine is the funniest film so far this year, but unfortunately no one has been going to see it. These comedic gems are only releasing once a year now, folks (Tropic Thunder, The Hangover), so let’s get on it.

The film also features a great tribute to 80s casting, including Chevy Chase, Crispin Glover and William Zabka, who was the blonde douchebag in Back to School and The Karate Kid. He’s a bit bloated now, but the intensity is all there.

By the way, I’m not just gushing about Hot Tub because I happen to casually know the writer. (If you can follow the math: he’s the ex-boyfriend of my friend’s sister-in-law.) It really is well done, and it really looks like they had a lot of fun making it. I wish I were in it. (The movie and the 80s.) Go grab 12 friends and see it.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter.

Matt, Petey, and the very delicious Easter Bunny

Friday, April 2, 2010

Best Of Luck.

I suppose my friend/acting classmate MJ could be cooler. Besides being a talented actress, she could reapportion congressional seats. Or make sure Steven Seagal never-never-never makes another blues album.

But perhaps her best quality is her choice in men – her husband is Steve Lavin, former UCLA basketball head coach and ESPN announcer. The sports geek in me combusts whenever I see her, and I relay messages to Steve, who has the uncanny ability to be the play-by-play guy whenever my team, Maryland pulls off a big upset. The Terps bitchslap Duke? Steve is there.

This week, Steve decided to return to coaching, accepting a job at St. John’s University. Which means that MJ is moving to New York, and I hate when LA people leave for that horrendous place.

Don’t be trading in the acting career for that bouquet of roses, girl. I’ll look for you on no less than seven “Law & Order” incarnations. Have fun.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Whose Line Is It? Mine.

If I’d had only one New Year’s resolution for 2010, it would have been to do a better job keeping up with the Kardashians.

But if I had a second, it would be to finally take an improv class. It’s one thing to riff long-form in this blog, but I’ve been wanting to challenge myself in real time. And last night I went ahead and did just that, by taking my first class at the hottest improv theater in town: Upright Citizens Brigade.

It was an absolute rush. My classmates are super talented and hilarious, and after three hours of all kinds of stories and rants, I know them very well. (Biggest lesson: having roommates really sucks shit.)

So if you bump into me, feel free to throw a scenario or occupation at me and let me have it. Possible suggestion: cobbler and all cobbler-related merchandise.