by Michelle Giorlando
“You will SO get cast. You’re so funny! They’d be crazy not to cast you.”
Back in 2010, I was a fresh-faced improviser with a year of Second City classes and then a year of writing, rehearsing and putting up a show under my belt. Auditions for the newest Go launch group were coming up, and I kept hearing endless variations of the above. I was flattered, and I had an inkling that my friends were right; improv happened to be pretty much the only area in my life where I had some self-confidence. I knew I was a decent improviser, and I was looking forward to acing my audition and showing them what I could offer.
Audition day came, and I nailed it. I had pored over Pj’s audition tips (which I highly recommend reading) and I was ready for it. The line game was great, my scenes went really well, and I even got brought out to do an additional scene. When it was finished, I went to the WAB with the rest of the auditioners, and I felt fantastic. We’d been told we’d get a phone call by 5:00 p.m. the following Friday if we made it.
I wasn’t even worried – I knew I made it.
(Everyone knows where this is going. Even my friend’s fetus knows where this is going.)
I totally didn’t make it.
To further add a thrill, that Friday, I was departing on a cruise with my friends, and we were pulling out of port at 5. I had my phone in my hand all afternoon, and when 5 came and went, I lost it. Incidentally, if you’ve never tried hiding an hours-long sobbing fit on a dirty Carnival cruise ship, you are missing something from your life. My friends were sympathetic, but I had to work hard to pull myself together and not ruin the next three days. It was so hard. I just kept going over and over the audition in my mind, wondering what I’d done wrong.
It took me some time and distance to realize I hadn’t done anything wrong. I simply wasn’t the right fit.
It’s hard not to take it personally.
It’s hard not to wonder, “Why did SHE make it and I didn’t?”
It’s hard to realize you spent money on classes and went through a whole program and didn’t make it.
It’s hard not to rant on Facebook.
It’s hard not to look at the auditioners and wonder what the hell they were thinking.
It’s hard not to feel like you deserved to make it.
It’s hard to look at yourself and realize that maybe you have more learning to do or experience to get or life to live before you’re ready to be cast.
It’s hard to stomach that 90 people might audition each time, but only a dozen or so move on and you might never get cast.
There are a thousand reasons you might not be cast. None of them are that you are a garbage person and should quit, so please don’t quit.
Find people you like to improvise with and form a troupe. Hire a coach to get you going and give you notes and advice. Play with a wide variety of people. Play the jams. Enter tournaments. Take a workshop. Go to improv camp. Go see shows. Check out other theaters. Write sketches. Play 1001 in the car on your way to work. Hang out in the lobby. Hang out with your non-improv friends and remember that the world is bigger than this.
One of my favorite things about improv is the fact that it’s so fleeting. Once it’s done, it’s done. We don’t generally film it and re-watch our scenes over and over and dissect them. Once your audition is done, let it move behind you. It’s so tempting to analyze every word or movement, but once it’s done, it’s done. No matter what the outcome is, there’s always something else beyond it.
Michelle has been improvising for nine years, and is a teacher and Resident Company cast member at Go Comedy. Her lifelong dreams were finally realized when she got to play both a princess and Laura Ingalls Wilder in a sketch show.