New article on Punchline Magazine: Ted Alexandro: Internet film star
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I went to a McDonald’s audition yesterday morning. My friend, Tom, called and said that his commercial agent had seen a show of mine and was interested in representing me for commercials.
I had not gone on a commercial audition in about two years, probably. I had been through that process many years ago, going out on auditions almost daily, and I hated everything about it. I hated the subway ride into the city, the walk to the building, entering the front door, passing the doorman, taking the elevator, stepping out of the elevator and into their stupid office, being greeted by the dumb receptionist, signing in and sitting there amidst the desperation until your name is called.
I admit, this is a glass entirely empty approach but this was my experience. The energy around commercial auditions and agents never agreed with me. For some it is a perfect fit and they are in their zone and I salute them but for me it was an ill fit and it bothered me to my core.
Anyway, when I got the call from Tom and a follow up email from his agent I figured why not give things another try in the commercial realm. Enough time has passed and things can change, so open yourself up to it and see how it goes.
The email said that I would be going on an audition Monday morning for a McDonald’s commercial. This made things even more interesting, as I have not set foot in a McDonald’s in about eight years.
I did a corporate gig for McDonald’s in 2001 in Atlantic City, performing for their east coast operators. The gig went fine but the human resources guy, an uptight young prick, took offense to a couple of my Jesus jokes and got his panties in a bunch.
The crowd enjoyed the show and I even got emails from McDonald’s employees saying “Your performance was the high point of a boring, soul sucking weekend”.
But this one guy was offended and refused to pay me for the gig, withholding my check. McDonald’s, a multi-billion dollar corporation, refused to pay me for my comedy performance because this guy didn’t like a couple of jokes.
I eventually got my check months later and since that day I swore never to eat McDonald’s again. I have stuck to that and believe me it has improved my life immeasurably on many fronts.
So when this audition came in I thought “Ha, the plot thickens. Not only am I being offered a commercial audition but it is for McDonald’s, my sworn enemy.” But again, I figured maybe it’s time to let bygones be bygones and see if things have changed. If I get the commercial it can make me a nice chunk of change and I’ll have the last laugh.
I go to the audition and as soon as I enter the building I have those familiar feelings of discomfort and anguish.
I go up to the office and nothing has changed, it’s the same souless, desperate environment, a cattle call where nobody is valued. I sign in and wait to be called.
The arrogant asshole assistant guy comes out and says “Ted Alexandro, you signed the wrong list.”
There were two lists there and I signed both so I said “I signed both lists so you can remove me from whichever one is the wrong one.”
He calls a couple of other guys who arrived after I did, one of whom he seemed very chummy with. Then he calls me and a girl inside to audition. I introduce myself to the girl and we exchange hellos.
The obnoxious asshole says “Ted Alexandro, did you sign in on the computer?”
I had never signed in for an audition on a computer before and I had not this time.
“No. I didn’t realize we had to. It’s been a while since I’ve auditioned.”
After a loud, dramatic sigh he asks me to follow him into the hallway. He points to a computer and says “Sign in there. I’ll take you after you’ve signed in”. Then he takes another guy inside to audition.
I sit down at the computer and it’s asking for some sort of I.D. number, which I don’t have. I ask a couple of the other actors what the I.D. number is referring to and they tell me you have to get it from downstairs. I thank them and head downstairs to the main office to find out what my number is.
I arrive at the reception desk and I’m waiting for someone to help me. A minute goes by, then another and nobody is there. More and more I’m starting to think “What the fuck am I doing here in this toxic environment? I hate McDonald’s, I hate commercial auditions and I hate this whole process so why am I putting myself in this situation?”
I immediately decided to turn around and leave. I went back upstairs, gathered my belongings and walked out, feeling exhilarated.
When I exited the building I exhaled, feeling completely liberated and free. I felt light and giddy, like I’d just gotten away with something. I emailed the agency, thanking them for their kind consideration but I was not interested in commercials.
I had been tempted and I opened myself to the possibility, seeing if I had changed or my feelings had changed. But the answer that came back was an emphatic “No!” This is not my scene and I do not belong in that situation.
It was empowering to have a feeling, process it and immediately act on my instincts. When something feels wrong or feels counter to your instincts, it is important to say no and get out of there. I’m proud that I recognized it and followed through because every time you do that it further builds your integrity and your vision for who you want to be and what you want your life to be.
Another valuable lesson learned.