Years from now, when I am predictably famous, I will look back with fondness at the place where I got “my start.” Perhaps it will be some place ordinary; a vaunted comedy club; a hip, soon-to-be legendary underground comedy bar. Maybe my start will come via a more unorthodox route; a new Geico commercial campaign, a media-sensationalized murder trial. But I can say with certainty that my start won’t be hosting a new late night talk show on the Spike Network. Oh well.
It’s not that I wouldn’t take that start. I would love to heretofore be known as “isn’t that the dude who used to host that show on Spike?” It’s just not in the cards for me.
The casting call for Spike’s new pilot, modestly named The Greatest Show in the Universe, made it clear it was looking for a very specific candidate. They were looking for a 20-to-30 year old “guy’s guy.” A dude who’s “into the internet, video games, beer and his friends.” They did not want someone “polished” or “hosty,” instead they were looking for someone with “inherent comedic talent,” specifically “Zach Galifianakis, Seth Rogen, Jack Black, Ricky Gervais, Bill Murray, Jonah Hill, Andy Samberg.” As far as I can tell, this means they would like the host of The Greatest Show in the Universe to be a pudgy, excessively hairy 30-to-60 year old British Jew who writes songs about “jizzing in his pants.”
The casting call also stated that it was looking for a guy who “gets laid because chicks dig his quirky personality, not because he’s hot. And not because he has the best pick-up lines. He doesn’t.” The brass at Spike wanted someone who was "unassuming, jolly when drunk (not violent)" and that people "would want to hug.”
It was starting to get convoluted; I needed to create a check list.
OK. Let’s recap.
• 20-to-30 year old? Check.
• Love the internet? Check. But I have a feeling they mean a different internet.
• Love video games? Unless they mean 20-year-old video games, then Strike.
• Love Beer? Check, for sure. But again, I think they mean drinking beer at a nightclub while scoping for chicks, not Gas-Station 40’s alone on a weekday evening. So, half-check.
• Not Polished or Hosty? I can’t even begin… um Check?
• Anything like that list of comedians? Judging my career achievements, Strike.
• Doesn’t get laid because of looks? Resounding Check.
• Does get laid because of quirky personality? Strike. (Any of the smattered instances of me “getting laid” were due almost exclusively to unbelievable luck, something akin to divine intervention.)
• Unassuming? Seeing as I have a blog, a Resounding Strike.
• Jolly when drunk (not violent)? Strike, Check. I’m not a violent person in any way, but I’m certainly not a jolly drunk. (On Friday night, in classic Gregory-drunk form, I spent my intoxication locking myself in the bathroom, then trying to “walk” to Massachusetts before passing out on a bench 4 blocks away in the wrong direction. I don’t really think this is what the casting-call had in mind.)
• Huggable? Check. Clearly.
So that’s 4 ½ definite checks, 5 definite strikes, and 2 in-betweens. This ratio satisfied me enough to give the audition a shot, although I probably would have showed up had the casting call asked for 70 year-old transsexual Asian pianists.
The audition was at Comix on West 14th street, and it took all day. I arrived just as signups began and was number 66. The open calls were going on in cities across the country. Each city had two days of auditions. The first open call in New York had around 200 hopefuls. Assuming this was the average per-day attendance and knowing how many cities were involved, I figured they were looking for one man among a couple thousand “guy’s guys.” My masculinity wouldn’t stick out amongst a group of Olympic Figure Skaters, so I knew odds were against me surrounded by beer-bellied football aficionados.
The internet call asked comics to come prepared with a 30-second routine and our best improve skill. I don’t have any jokes that clock in less than 30 seconds, so I spent the night before writing a bit specifically for this audition, and came up with one I could use. I should have known better. When I got to the audition, I was instructed to disregard the casting call and instead familiarize myself with a prewritten bit that I would be asked to perform, some routine about how people who wear Ed Hardy shirts are douche bags.
So I spent the morning trying to remember someone else’s bit and wondering why I didn’t just become a lawyer. I auditioned on the main stage, in front of couple of attractive women. They never even mentioned the Ed Hardy bit, just said hello and asked me a few questions about myself.
Hot Lady: If you had a superpower, what would it be, and why?
(I was told beforehand to be ready to answer “Coke vs. Pepsi?” and was ready to staunchly defend Pepsi; this question caught me off guard.)
Me: Um… I would like to be able to have my entire life available on VHS so I can watch any moment from my past whenever I want.
(No idea where that came from.)
Hot Lady: Why VHS?
(I wanted to say because they didn’t have DVDs when I was young and there was no way I would have the time to forward-convert my entire childhood onto DVD.)
Me: Um… I like VHS.
Hot Lady: So you tend to like older things, like retro video games?
Me: Oh yeah, I bust out the Sega all the time. (I smile, expecting her to say something like, “Oh, I just love Sonic the Hedgehog!”)
Hot Lady: Cool. Well, nice to meet you Gregory. Thank You.
And then I left.
That was it. The callback was on Thursday but I never received an email. I wasn’t surprised or disappointed. In fact, the audition accomplished nothing except giving me a topic to blog about. This has increasingly become my justification for any failure, or mistake, or terrible, terrible decision. It’s good to have that outlet. Believe me. It’s good.