I did an AOL Commercial. Everyone has seen it. I know that because they show it all the time plus I've gotten calls and emails from everyone that has ever known me. EVER. I've gotten recognized on the Subway once. The guy looked at me and asked if I was in "that commercial." I said yes. He said "say the tuna line."
Of course, my favorite one is my dear mother. Who (when the commercial started airing) would call me ev'rytime she saw it leaving me a captain's log of voice mails.
"8:31: they aired it on Survivor. Ok, bye. 9:02: its on The Apprentice. Ok, bye. 9:15: during Desperate Housewives. Love you, bye."
(Does anyone else find it disturbing that their mother loves Desperate Housewives??)
Now don't get me wrong, I love the attention. I've also made it my mission to return every call. Its just I have that classic fear of not being able to live up to the expectations others have for me. Yeah, that's some real shit right there.
Commercial auditions are strange. More so than film and TV, its all about types. I go out for things where they are looking for a
"Dave Chappelle type. Chris Rock type. A funky, urban, fast talking, streetwise, sorta jazzy, urban, hip hoppy, kinda funky, urban Chris Rock-y type of fast talking - Chris Rock sky diving! Chris Rock wrestling an alligator! If Chris Rock had an alligator in a headlock what would he say? And ACTION!"
Its just as Robert Townsend so brilliantly illustrated in the 80s (when Rock and Chappelle were coming up) in the film Hollywood Shuffle with actors auditioning for a Eddie Murphy-esque role.
A friend of mine went in for a mortgage and loan commercial the other day. (the company rhymes with Ashmeriquest). They were looking for a Black SoccerMom. So they called her because they had her "sassy" headshot. And if there are Black SoccerMoms, I guarantee the other SoccerMoms find them very very "sassy."
(*note: Black SoccerMoms is a good name for a band.)
I found that hilarious so of course I wrote a script for her audition.
SOCCER MOM: Because I have less than perfect credit, (let's just say my son's nickname is collateral) I can't always make my mortgage payments. I mean McDonald's pays well and all, but I want the appearance of status that would get me approval from White America.
INTANGIBLE VOICE: You're in luck! At Ashmeriquest we will work for you! We realize your people are put upon and need a leg up once in a while. And we like the fact we'll technically own you for the rest of your life. So help is on the way
Ashmeriquest: Debt is the New Slavery.
I like that "Debt is the New Slavery." Its funny cuz its true.
I went for an audition the other day for a soft drink product (sounds like Shmepsi). The premise was me walking into a store to get a drink. The clerk had two live chickens in a cage on his counter. I see them and as a joke I say to the guy "got any chickens?" He asks which of them I want and I put the drink to the cage. Both of the chickens wanna go home with my drink oblivious to the fact that I, a black man, plan to kill and eat them Down-home style. So the chickens have a Kung Fu battle and the one left standing goes home with me. You guessed it. Its hyper-realism. Now after one take, we get directions to really see those chickens fight. It'll be CGIed in later, but we really have to react. Okay. So I lean in and look as the casting woman shouts out narration "They're bowing to each other! Now they're kicking! One is doing flying kicks! One is knocked out, you can't believe it!" You're right I can't believe it. I just wonder who that guy is who grew up on a farm that saw chickens fight that could really drop in to reality of that moment.
I can't wait to see it.