You know those “before” parts of infomercials where the person is having an existential crisis?
They’re trying to hang their trousers in their cluttered closet, and they trip over a stray belt and crumple into an anguish heap on the bedroom floor.
Or they’re incinerating a grilled cheese in an aluminum pan over a red-hot electric stove, coughing as they’re enveloped in smoke and clasping their ears as the alarm screams?
I found this one, too. This gent’s physical comedy skills are top notch. I give him a full Sham-wow.
We’ve all lived the problem stage before the low-laryngeal baritone voiceover says, “Introduuuuciiiing…..”
That’s a joke in our house when we’re struggle-bussing in plain view.
We say, “I’m an infomercial over here.”
That was me a couple mornings ago.
Even while it was happening, I said to Melissa, “I’m going to write about this.”
Then, later that afternoon, I said, “What was that thing that happened this morning when I said I was an infomercial?”
Neither of us could remember.
I clearly missed the one-time-offer for the memory supplement.
So, I decided I’d share three useful, unrelated tips that I DID remember this week that I thought would make your life (artistically and otherwise) better.
I mean, some of these are even directly related to singing and auditioning.
🎥 Self-Tape Pizza Box Confidence and Freedom Booster
It’s very clear — the self tape is here to stay. I did one this very week.
I like to be off-book for an audition because, you know, looking up and acting and stuff.
But this week proved prohibitive in the grey matter department.
I wasn’t quite showtime ready, so I used my trusty cue-card sides trick.
I’m surprised I haven’t heard more people share this. Or maybe I’m not reading the right Broadway World online community chats.
This is what you do —
Type up your sides in bullshit-bullshit-MY-LINE-MY-LINE format. Make your lines super easily readable
Leave a gap in the middle of the page.
Dig that Amazon Prime box out of your recycling, cut out a paper-sized rectangle, and glue your sides to the cardboard.
Cut or Exacto knife a rectangle in the middle or side of your pages that’s bigger than your camera/phone lens.
Clip these to your phone or tripod in whatever creative way that allows your eye line to be just off camera to your scene partner. A strategically placed music stand can also save you rigging headaches here.
And hit record.
And don’t do too many takes. I find the second one is almost always the best one. You peak, and then it’s downhill a lot of the time.
If you’re a visual learner, this is what my last round looked like. And I didn’t need the cuts after all. I used a music stand.
🎵 Audition Song What-Did-You-Have-for-Breakfast Trick
Your song coach told you that time to come up with an imaginary scene partner, pick a spot on the wall, pretend that was their face, and go.
Thing is, you and I have all seen the singers who get stuck on that spot and end up singing “On the Street Where You Live” like a stalker who finally cornered their stalkée.
In real life, our eyeballs move because our thoughts move.
So, here’s the tip to get you feeling more like a human when you sing.
Think about what you had for breakfast.
Now think about what you had for breakfast and notice where your eyeballs move.
That’s your memory spot, one of the places where your eyes move when you go into your internal brain space.
When you do that, I’m all like, “What’re you thinking in there?”
We go in there all the time to pull out memories, grab that word we can’t quite bring up in the rolodex, or to ruminate over that awkward interaction we had with the woman at the grocery store.
(Seriously, though, Melissa almost saw fisticuffs in the Market Basket produce department yesterday. Someone papaya-blocked somebody, I guess. I don’t have to tell you people done lost they mind these days.)
Back to your breakfast.
Yeah, make your memory eyeball spot a frequently visited friend.
Another cheap trick aspect of this — if you haven’t had time to do proper homework on your material (or you’ve practiced professional procrastination), this is a good way to allow some specifics from your subconscious to populate your storytelling.
Just be prepared for random thoughts about pop tarts or second-day T-shirts with suspect pit smell to emerge from the mind sea.
🍁🍁🍁 Sometimes you gotta pick up two handfuls of dead leaves and throw them back.
I took the boys to the town forest yesterday to search for the witches’ caves.
I think they’re cute.
Noah discovered the joy of picking up dirt and leaves and throwing them at Daddy.
Usually down the back of my cargo camos when I was bending down to pick Jude up from his latest rock-trip.
“Noah, stop!” my humorless, tired morning self said.
He couldn’t stop laughing. And throwing more leaves.
I remembered my days as a kid when we turned the tobacco field behind our house into a GI Joe war zone and had dirt clod fights. The furrows made good trenches, and we’d hurl dried clumps of red clay at each other hoping there wasn’t too sharp a rock hiding inside.
It was good, dirty fun.
And a laundry nightmare for my mom.
But I remembered. And it was on.
We ran our way out of the woods hurling leaves at each other and laughing all the way.
Well, except for the time Noah kept throwing dirt down my pants, and I got angry that he wouldn’t stop, took a wrong turn, panicked a little, told everybody to just hush for a second, and had to get out my phone to figure out which way south was.
Other than that, it was a blast. And there was a lot of dirt to scrub out of heads at bath time.
The moral — when would a good ole yes-and serve the situation?
Later that day, Noah said, “Daddy, I loved it when you started playing with the leaves with us. Daddy, why’d you do that?”
Note to self— maybe check for more opportunities to chill out and have a lil basic fun.
There you go.
Next time you’re feeling all
Take some time to
🤣 chuckle at self
📦✂️ organize your self-tape supply closet
🧠 practice thinking about what you had for breakfast
🍁 be on the lookout for quality leaf fight opportunities
And in the meantime, remember there’s only one you, and folks need to hear the song only you can sing.
LOVE MUCH (I’m belting),
ps speaking of breakfast, I tried this Julia Child trick for poached eggs, and after a couple of operator errors, I’m here to report it works well.
Pro tip, use a kitchen towel to help you push the safety pin into the egg. You’ll see.
pps Here’s some history on the witches’ caves in our town forest.
ppps Remember if you need any lessoning or vocal troubleshooting this summer, I’m zoomable. Just email me back here, and we’ll set up a time for you. I’m here if you need me. 🎵