Let’s take a break from the sad books, or books that make me sad because I hate them. Who doesn’t need a good laugh in the darkness of the brink of winter solstice? This book is like a happy lamp for your soul. Especially if you are working in the arts and need to know that everyone hates themselves as much as you hate yourself after a bad audition.
Personal anecdote time: (If you came here just for a book review, just go ahead and skip this. If you came here because you are my friend, read on!)
Speaking of bad auditions…I keep posting on my facebook wall “going to _____!” Why, why, WHY do I keep doing this? It inevitably leads to a string of “break a legs!” and “how did it go?” that, while heartfelt and wonderful, mean that I have to relive every horrible moment of some soul-crushing experience.
Not that all auditions are soul-crushing, by any means. Often I leave an audition feeling like I nailed it, knowing that if I don’t get the role it’s because of some redhead or brunette or 5’ 10” girl that also wowed them and was the look they wanted.
Yesterday was another story. Yesterday I had my first audition that I had to flash my fancy brand-new “Equity Membership Candidate” card (EMC). It was at Intiman, and I spent the entire Sunday night singing my songs, picking out the best piece, and researching all four of their plays. I watched their welcome video. I pulled up my resume and edited and printed and edited and printed until I just stared out the inadequacy of my credentials.
I went into the auditions feeling confident, but terrified. My pieces were solid, my voice was in good shape, and it wasn’t like there was some perfect part for me, if I just showed them something awesome maybe they could find me a chorus role. Fourth wife on the left in Lysistra would have been fine by me if that’s what they wanted.
I walked in, and they were SO NICE. Introduced themselves, shook my hand, smiled at me, and genuinely looked interested in seeing my work.
I tanked. Oh lord how I tanked. I don’t remember breathing, and by the time I left the room I was shaking, literally, from head to toe. Maybe finger to toe would be a more apt description, but you get my point. I could barely change from my character shoes to my boots because I couldn’t stand on one foot.
Apart from the fact I didn’t breathe and I croaked out the first note of my song like a frog and I wanted to die, I might have done ok. And actually, it felt kind of good realizing that I cared enough to be so terrified. Every time I tell someone how the audition went, they try to make me feel better. Which is sweet, I absolutely appreciate the sentiment, but honestly I don’t feel bad about it. I feel like yes, this is what I want to do, and it terrifies me and excites me in ways that I can barely explain. I love it. Even when I tank, I love that I prepared as best I could and knew I could do better, if only I wasn’t so scared. Because that fear will go away. I’ll sing in front of more people and eventually it’ll feel the same as when I sing alone in my basement.
Oh yeah, we were talking about Tina Fey, weren’t we?
I don’t read a lot of nonfiction because I like to read a solid plot with solid characters. If I know how it ends, I don’t care about reading it nearly as much. Tina Fey’s Bossypants starts out chronicling her early life including her struggling acting career. While, as an actor, it is nice to see that even Tina Fey once struggled with her career, I also know that she’s going to make amazing things happen, so half of me completely gets every moment of panic, and half of me just doesn’t by it.
Tina Fey is just as hilarious as you’d expect, her anecdotes are funny, but I find her lack of self confidence both adorable and annoying. Part of me thinks, hey, you have an Emmy-award winning show running 7 seasons, shut. up. And part of me is happy to know that I’m not the only one who suffers these cripping moments of artistic lack of self-worth.
That being said, by the end of the book I wanted nothing more than to grow up to be exactly like Tina Fey. She is fierce, funny, and overall a normal person who works very hard at doing what she loves. It was inspiring reading her journey from a young girl hanging out with the theater weirdos to playing with the big boys and producing her own show. I loved that she struggled with everything that woman in the arts struggle with. How do you balance a family with a 80-hour-a-week schedule? Are you screwing up your child? If you have a second one, will you completely derail your career?
I often read this book before an audition, because it made me happy instead of stressed and it also gave me a huge sense of empowerment being a woman in the arts. Thank you, Tina Fey, for showing me that this journey is full of many, many bumps but is in the end, worth it, and a hilarious ride.