I am not very good at auditions (though I did land a sweet part in Third Watch) — especially commercial auditions. Years ago when I was really broke, I would go (it was better than temping at this law firm), though I was generally terrible at it. My breaking point was about three years ago, when I arrived at an audition for a musical DVD game and saw that they were looking for “a cross between Jack Black and Robin Williams.” I was surprised I was sent there (I can’t sing and I do only two voices — regular and slightly silly). I went in, did a terrible job rapping and singing in a heavy metal style, and decided to not do that anymore.
However, about a year later, I got a call from someone I knew asking if I’d audition to be the spokesman for an online series for a new pen from OfficeMax — the Tul retractable pen. I knew the person (plus I would have made enough money to buy a Toyota Carola!!!!!!!), so I said I would, but then promptly forgot and missed my audition. The next day I went on tour and figured that was that.
However, when someone thinks your voice might be perfect for their product, they don’t give up that easily. They really wanted to see me — it was down to one man (the one they cast) and what they imagined I would do. To my surprise, they sent two people to Providence, RI to tape my audition in a conference room of the hotel I was staying at.
The premise of the ad and website was that a somewhat wacky handwriting specialist would guide you through a handwriting analysis and tell you about yourself. They had several scripts and had me improv stuff. The website they made for the pen is still up. I now realize I was mispronouncing the pen’s name (I was saying “Tul” like “Jethro Tull,” but it’s “Tul” like “tool”). Clearly the person they cast is much better for the role.
Why tell the story now, years later? Because I randomly got some of the footage from that audition! It’s somewhere between stilted, irreverent, and not great, but it’s sort of funny. Here are some of my improvised outtakes (I included a sample from the Tul website, to give a sense of the rift between what I did and what they wanted):