I’ve never really worked for a corporation or even in an office for that matter. When I first moved to New York City straight out of college I was trying to find a day job, the thing actors have to do to make money, I had heard of a lot of people getting work through temp agencies so I went to one. They had me take some basic computer skill tests but I didn’t do very well. I don’t type that fast and when I do type I don’t type properly.
In the 5th grade we had to take computer science class where we were supposed to learn to type without looking at the keyboard. The teacher was a very tall man with very curly red hair we called “The Carrot”. More quickly than I learned how to type I learned how to charm The Carrot and cheat the typing test system so while I did pass the class to this day I have my own brand of typing and I still look at the keyboard a lot.
The temp agency took a little pity on me and decided to let me try my hand at reception work but before sending me to a big company they had me work at the front desk of their offices. As bad as I was with computer skills I was worse with multi-line phones, I hung up on over twenty people that day and the rest, well, their calls were transferred but I can’t say that I know to where exactly. That is the extent of my experience working in an office or any type of corporate environment.
What I know about the business world I have learned from television or from what friends and family tell me about their jobs. I also know that these business people like to hire performers to entertain at different, what they call, “functions” or “events.” These kinds of gigs can be a vital part of a working actors life because they pay well and we need to pay bills and eat. The other side of these gigs is that they require a little tiny piece of your soul each time you do one.
I had a gig last night doing sketch comedy and improv for a bunch of hotel executives on a rooftop over looking the Capitol Building in Washington DC. I was excited to do the job; anytime I get paid to do comedy I get excited. Political satire isn’t where I excel but we had some great sketch writers and Dion Flynn who impersonates President Obama on the Jimmy Fallon show was doing a terrific bit. There was a sketch called “Putin After Dark” where Putin has a Hugh Hefner-esque talk show and I played terrible stand up comedian guest – I was nervous about getting the order of my bad jokes correct so I wrote them on my hand, I’ve been doing that trick forever – oldie but a goody. The idea of entertaining a crowd of people is wonderful and if that’s what I was actually doing I would have liked it a whole lot more. It turns out what I was really doing at this gig was making background noise for people to ignore, talk over, drink to and chew around. I’m not sure who thinks a bunch of executives are going to want to watch political satire at 7pm after a long day of work while free drinks are flowing and hors d’oeuvres are being passed but I’m telling you now that they don’t. I’m pretty sure that they just want to drink and eat for free and get out of there and back to their families, I’m pretty sure of that because that is exactly what happened. We did our thing and they drank and ate and left right through it. So if you are an event planner, don’t stop supporting artists but maybe don’t have sketch comedy and improv compete for a cocktail hour. I did nail the joke order though, I’m not sure anyone was listening because I think the mini quiches came out right at the same time, but I still nailed it.