Wednesday, November 5, 2008

ACTING CLASS, Part 5 by Gregg Gethard

Things just seem to happen to Gregg Gethard. After telling a few stories at comedy shows in New York City, he created his own monthly show in Philly, BEDTIME STORIES, to tell a few more. Over the past year and a half the show has grown in audience and features some of the best comics in the city.

Here, Gregg continues his eight-part series on an acting class he took in Montclair, New Jersey. [Read Part I, II, III and IV]

The next installment of Bedtime Stories is TONIGHT at the Shubin Theatre (407 Bainbridge), 8PM, $10.


I walked into class in the middle of an argument between Sagging Boobs and Class Junkie. Sagging Boobs had just finished her performance when I walked in, and Class Junkie-- who seems to be a very nice, affable grandfatherly type who just-so-happens to have an interest in taking various classes around Essex County for self-improvement issues-- were embroiled in an argument.

"I just think that your piece was better the first time. I liked what you did then," Class Junkie said, polite as can be.

"Well, I obviously did it that way for a reason," Sagging Boobs responded. "I only did the alteration of the scene that Bob talked about. I did it that way for a reason. I learned about doing that when I had acting classes in college. I don’t think you went to Mason Gross!"

“I have a MA in lit from NYU, I’ll have you know,” Class Junkie responded angrily after dropping his trump card.

The tension slowly went away as one of the Interchangeable Steel Magnolia Housewives prepared their set. Two of the Interchangeable Housewives were there this week-- this aforementioned version and the lady who said that I had very cute earlobes. The one who talked about child molestation and colon cancer last week was not there-- again, furthering my belief that these three have never been in the same room together.

During a brief break, we listened in on a reading that was being done from the main stage for an upcoming musical. A lady was singing, and a discussion ensued between Bob and Sagging Boobs (who regularly attends shows at the theater) as to who was performing.

"Oh yeah, I remember her. She has a real distinctive voice," Bob said, as catty as an 8th grade girl. "A really... shrill...distinctive... voice."

The Interchangeable Housewife’s performance involved her reading Cosmo and then answering the phone. The call came from a friend of hers.

"I just studied for my GMAT's this weekend. It really sucked," she said. Then the pitch in her voice changed. "Oh, you really met him? Did you post your picture or did he? What page was it? Match dot com?"

Unfortunately, more was not heard about the perils of Internet dating from her unique perspective.

Bob ensured her that she had a "great sense of privacy" during her performance-- a compliment he has offered to pretty much every single one of us after our performance. The Overly Competitive Hindu gave a haughty golf clap after her scene was done.

The Latino Bohunk then went next. He set up an elaborate set, like mine. He brought his own phone from home, brought in towels to drape over chairs, tablecloths and a vase. In addition, he also wore a tacky orange bubble jacket, as if he was working on an Interstate as part of a work-release program.

His performance began with him walking in through a door, a little on the tired side. He meandered around, going through mail, checking his answering machine for messages.

He then then took off his shoes and socks, and then unfastened his belt, dropping his black trousers to the floor, folding them, then placing them around the chair. He then had a one-sided telephone conversation with a fictional Visa operator as he unbuttoned his black silk shirt, revealing his black boxer-briefs that allowed his caramel thighs to glisten under the flourescent lighting, exposing his considerable shame bulge to everyone in the class. After his performance, he received a well-deserved rousing ovation from the class.

Interchangeable Steel Magnolias Fan #2 had to go after that performance of a lifetime. The Overly Competitive Hindu helped her set up and saw that clothing was a major part of her performance. "Do you want my pants? We can go in the back room real quick," he said, trying to come off as being "zany" and more coming across like a slimy Megan's Law violator.

She meekly folded laundry (Chicago Bulls "DYNASTY" T-Shirt, NY Giants Zubaz style tiger pants, towels) and separated the whites from the blacks.

"I don't know what it is with this class, but you all are reading my mind." Bob said. "I say 'white' and 'black' whenever I do my laundry also."

We then discussed the next two weeks of class. Next week, class begins at 7. Bob wants us to see him read at a rehearsal. "This is the embryotic, very beginning stages of how a play gets made. It's so very exciting. It's a great play. Real, real interesting," Bob said. He clearly needs to be taken down a notch.

We then discussed the week after that -- we will begin going over our monologues. "If you are feeling randy and want to memorize it, go ahead and memorize it. But don't feel like you need to memorize it. I'm used to that sort of thing," Bob said.

No Cute Girl this week. She is obviously playing head games with me. I wonder how she would respond to threatening e-mails. No one plays games with me.

At the end of class, The Hemaphroditic German said she wanted to do something that perhaps involved two people. Bob told her to ask around next week to see if she could get someone to perform with her. I am thinking about volunteering, just to get a glimpse into her dark, childless world. I would also like to see the look on my parents face if I were to bring this she-male into my house to go over a scene from Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

But I think I may do a monologue of my own, probably something with a movie. I have four key words: Planet Of The Apes.

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