Life Upon The Freaky Stage

O.K. The nervous twitch has returned like an unwanted relative. It’s that time of year. Fall. Grass dying. Leaves plummeting to their death… oh wait… I love that stuff during this cycle of the calendar. It’s that other thing lurking. Waiting. Getting closer. Causing my mind to drift during The Daily ShowIt’s here again. When I must stand in a seedy night club, once a theater, and be a marketing-whore for my publisher. Oh the glamor. I think I’m going to puke.

Actorfest NYC is coming this Saturday the 24th and from 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM at the Random House booth there I will be; wishing that I could be autumn covered-bridge-touring instead of feeling like a plastic grimaced perfume spritzer at MACY*S. Unlike those fragrance terrorists who chase you down to offer a spritz thank God Random House doesn’t have me running after actors with ripped pages in my grasp, screaming, “Please read me! I’ll even turn the pages for you!!” Pitchman is not what I enjoy. But I do get to meet some wonderful people as I did last year. Thank you. And then… there are; well… the freaks:

– A young man who thought himself a play-ah came to the table. He introduced himself as the exclusive manager for his client (girlfriend) who sheepishly stood aside. Mr. Manager abruptly asked with an air of his-farts-don’t-stink-a-compact-car who I was. He didn’t wait for an answer. Mr. Manager quickly flashed his business card (did that read Verizon Sales?) and then just as swiftly placed it back into his pocket while instructing me to speak to his girlfriend… sorry “client”. I was commanded to inform her of “my position in the industry” and “how I could service her.” And was I “anyone of worth?”


Did I ever tell you that I don’t do well at parties and social functions?

– Then there was the actress who picked up a copy of my book for purchase and when I offered to sign it for her she then tossed my first borne back at me and curtly shot, “If you’re going to ruin the thing with scribble, I don’t want it.”


Did I ever tell you that if I had the choice between working one-on-one with the public or being a puppy poop sniffer I’d be asking where’s the nearest park with poodles?

– There was the actor who came to the table with a facial deformity. Well, actually several. He was missing an eye. There was no prosthetic as replacement (or eye patch). And one cheekbone was also M.I.A. Whatever the cause the result was, well, uhmm… hey not everyone can be Christopher Walken. The actor sincerely asked me if I thought he had a shot at being a model.


Did I ever tell you that riding a looping roller coaster without a lap bar restraint is more fun than twisting honesty?

If you visit Actorfest NYC this weekend and happen to see me uncomfortably smiling and bantering to anyone resembling similar above; please save me.

I’ll have Halloween candy (nudge, nudge). No costume required. Honest.

My Best (minus the twitching),

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This Week’s Regular Post: Bitch-Slap; Being an Actor

Paul Russell’s career as a casting director, director, acting teacher and former actor has spanned nearly thirty years. He has worked on projects for major film studios, television networks, and Broadway. Paul has taught the business of acting and audition technique at NYU and has spoken at universities including Yale, Temple and the University of the Arts. He writes a column for Back Stage and is the author of ACTING: Make It Your Business – How to Avoid Mistakes and Achieve Success as a Working Actor. For more information, please visit


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