- Entertainment and Media
How to Become A Really Bad Actor
The Acting Bug
It's true. Almost everyone who goes into show business has been, at some point, "bitten by the Acting Bug." This phraseology - "bitten by the Acting Bug" - is apropos, as the bite victim suffers something akin to an anaphylactic reaction pronounced by delirium, feverishness, and hallucinations of money, fame, idolatry , and preternatural fantasies of "opposite sex" attraction not even dreamed of by Casanova. Want your pick of women, men, or both? Become an actor! Want to bask in the glory of love and adulation? Become an actor! Want to be thrilled by the smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepaint? Become an actor! It is understandable then, that this fantasy world attracts an inordinate number of suitors and guileless dreamers.
Most victims are in their early teens, which is good, because there is much work to be done to even give yourself a remote chance of making it big. It is a well known estimation that 90% of professional actors in AEA (Actor's Equity Association - the stage actor's union) are unemployed at any given time (The Complete Idiots Guide to Acting, Baldwin, Malone, & Malone, pg. 322). So modern wisdom suggests - to help beat these odds - that actors get started early gaining experience, studying, and learning the craft of acting.
Scenes From An Actor's Life
Learning the Actor's Craft
Let's imagine (Hey! You want to be an actor? You're going to have to imagine a lot of things, like actually getting a job) that you engage in a rigorous training regimen in order to become a really good actor. You study, you practice, you sing, you speak, you dance, you breathe, you vocalize, you pound the pavement, you audition, you knock on agent's doors, you get constantly rejected, and where are you? Unemployed, that's where. I began to study this conundrum, and what I found shocked me: A really good actor has no better chance at hitting the big time than a really bad actor does, and the bad actor has it a heck of a lot easier and didn't blow more than $200,000 bucks on the finest acting schools and training.
This revelation hit me like a divine inspiration. I vowed then and there to help all budding thespians avoid the pitfalls that have plagued the multitudes of star catchers before them. What's that? No, no. Boy actors are called thespians too. So what is a bad actor or, better yet, who are the successful really bad actors working on stage and screen today? Everyone has their own idea of who is good and who is bad and the Internet is choked with people naming names, which I will not lower myself to do here (Macaulay Culken; Jeanne Claude Van Damme; Hilary Duff; Hugh Grant; Parker Posey; Stephen Segal; Jennifer Lopez; Orlando Bloom; Brittany Spears; Ben Affleck; Melanie Griffith; Ashton Kutcher; Pamela Anderson; Paul Walker; Andie MacDowel; Hayden Christensen; Jessica Simpson; Sylvester Stallone; Paris Hilton; and the number 1 really bad actor...Tom Cruise!) Yes, yes, I know. Cruise was pretty good in Born on the Fourth of July, but just as a really good actor can uncharacteristically give a bad performance, a really bad actor can accidentally give a good one.
And that is why I have developed my program to train you as a really bad actor. I will first show you how the really good actor prepares for his life "treading the boards" or "lighting up the silver screen." Then I will show you the new way, developed by me, guaranteed to turn you into a really bad actor, so bad that you wont be able to act your way out of a wet paper bag, and maybe, just maybe, achieve the superstardom you covet.
"Our Town" by Thornton Wilder
The First Steps Toward a Successful Acting Career
Upon being bitten by the acting bug as a teen, if you want to be an RGA (really good actor) begin getting acting experience wherever you can. Try out for the school plays and enter the talent shows. If there are theatre classes available, take them. Begin studying Shakespeare and reading the great playwrights such as Ibsen, Chekhov, Aristophanes, etc. If there is a community theatre in your town, sign up to move sets, help paint, and anything else needed. Attend a summer theatre camp.
As a future RBA (Really Bad Actor) and one of my model students, you see these activities as a waste of time that puts a major cramp in your style. What do you care about Eugene O'Neill or Arthur Miller? Bunch of old farts. Man, there's football, cheerleading, pep rallies, parties, driving around and scoring beer, video games, and dating. You're a kid, so be a kid. You'll learn a lot more about life by living it rather than playing citizen number 3 in the Podunk Playhouse's production of Our Town by Thornton whats-his-name.
Selecting a University Acting Program
The RGA will attend one of a handful of Universities or College's nationally recognized as having an outstanding Theatre Arts Department. Julliard and Yale School of Drama top the list and cost about $45,000/year, but what the hey, your mamma's rich and your daddy's good lookin' and you'll be sucking at their teat for a long, long time. There are a few other schools that excel in training for the actor. Here, you will live, eat and breathe theatre in a concentrated curriculum. You'll begin to study dance: Ballet, modern jazz, and tap. Singing lessons. Acting classes. Vocalization class. Voice and Speech. Movement. Script analysis. You'll study improvisation . You'll lay on your back for an hour every morning and learn how to breathe all over again, because you've been doing it wrong all these years. And you'll act. In plays, scenes, workshops, in the classrooms, the commons, and dorm rooms. Don't forget psychology, for what is acting after all but the study of human behavior? You'll go away during the summers to perform in summer stock for $35 and a dream, where you are also a stagehand and crew member. After 4 years you'll be a well-rounded actor and your body a finely tuned instrument..
The savvy RBA will recognize all this hubbub as a crock of crap. You don't stand a chance of getting into Julliard or Yale or any other fine theatre schools. Most state universities have theatre programs - just not great ones - and what difference does it make anyway? Look at Playboy's list of the Top Ten Party Schools and flip a coin. Enroll in the theatre program, sure. It's a great place to cut class and there are a lot of hotties who think their fine looks make them a shoo-in for success and fame. You want to finely tune a body, just not your own. Are you going to waste an hour pretending like you're walking through jello? Hell no! To be or not to be partying tonight, that is the question. Hark, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliette is gonna be at the party! Did I mention the finely tuned bodies? It's just an extension of high school, only this time you're on your own. Don't blow it on something as stupid as acting class.
Acting on the East or West Coast
Now that you've graduated, as an RGA you'll have to decide between New York and Los Angeles. If you want to act on the stage, you go to N.Y.C. If you want to act in films, you go to LA. They intersect some of course, but you might as well start out where you want to be the most. Both are expensive propositions. Hopefully mommy and daddy's well hasn't run dry and they're still amused at your childish antics. Otherwise, you'll have to work. When you arrive in your new city, you'll probably get a job right away...as a waiter. That's Ok. It's expected. Your studies haven't ended however and they never will. You'll enroll in acting class, dance classes, and more singing lessons. You need head shots - pictures - by a professional photographer, and then hundreds of 8x10's and postcards. You pick up the trade paper "Backstage" and go to every open call audition (referred to as "cattle calls") listed for the week. You pick up the Ross Reports (listings of agents) and start knocking on their doors. The agents tell you not to do this, but do this you must, every day if necessary, until they "see" you just to get rid of you. Every month you send out your picture postcards to hundreds of agents. You'll start to get some "Showcases", small productions where you invite agents and friends to come and see you. You wont be paid of course, but you'll be thrilled at the opportunity. To some degree, this routine will be required for the rest of your life, even if you become "famous."
My RBA's are already snickering. You've arrived in LA (New York is out of the question for you) and you have important matters to decide, like, "Where does Paris Hilton hang out? Where's the beach? Which nightclub is the hottest? What should my new name be? Jackie Vital?" You still look good, don't you? Of course you do and that's all that matters. All you have to do is hang out where you will be seen. Let the agents come to you. You are that fabulous! Hollywood is full of stories of stars discovered just buying a soda, or hanging at the beach, and YOU ARE NEXT. You don't need to learn how to act. Just practice wearing sunglasses and dancing around in your tighty whities. And what's this about portraying different characters? Stanislavsky Schmovski. Characters? What? You only need to play one character and that is you. Play it well and they'll let you play it over and over again and they'll pay you bucket loads of money.
The Curtain Goes Up
By now, hopefully you see the logic, sense, and downright brilliance of becoming a Really Bad Actor. The world of dreams awaits, and the dreams are very real. I cannot guarantee your success, of course. That will depend on how closely you follow my program. What I can promise you is that by following my guidelines you stand as good a chance as anybody. Stranger things have happened, my friend. Very strange indeed. As you begin your journey to superstardom, I leave you with these words: Don't break a leg!
"Wow! I'm like...flattered...and stuff." - Keanu Reeves
"Almost as good as Scientology." - Tom Cruise
"Christoph is hot." - Paris Hilton
"Yo." Sylvester Stallone
"He told me to bare my soul...to bear it all." - Pamela Anderson
"I met Damon there. That changed everything." Ben Affleck
"He said I had calipygian assets. I don't know what that means." - Jennifer Lopez
Upcoming Seminars with Christoph
Check my website www.youractingsucks.com for updates and schedule changes.
New York City, The Casting Couch Works, January 2nd - 9th
Los Angeles, Dude, Where's My Tan, February 15th - 22nd
Chicago, What The Hell You Doing In Chicago?, March 3rd - 21st SOLD OUT!
Podunk, So, This Is Podunk, April 1st
Des Moines, Keanu Reeves: Olivier Reincarnated?, May 11th - 18th