Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Well, today was a big day.

As I'm sure I've ranted a few times before, Edmonton's newest radio station Sonic 102.9 was having an open casting call today for a newscaster. Naturally, I went down to audition. I mean, I figure it's just as good as any other job I've been applying for.

Auditions started at 10AM. I was there at 9:30 and there were already 100 people in front of me. Well, veteran that I am of the Episode I lines, I made myself comfy and began the wait.

Actually, the wait wasn't too bad. I discovered that I have a lot more former classmates working at Sonic than I originally thought, and they all came over to say hi and ask me what I was up to now. And that's was nice.

So, 3.5 hours later, I'm finally at the front of the line. I'm given the sample news script I need to read, and I look at it and go, "Oh my God! This is horrible! This is something that [my old NAIT news instructor] would never let fly!" Not knowing if I could do it or not, I grab my pen out of my pocket and begin rapidly re-writing the script.

I actually got blessed with a good script. 4 news stories: 1 serious one and 3 kickers. For those who don't know, the "kicker" is the silly news story that you usually use to end your newscast. It's called the "kicker" because, if you need to shorten your newscast, it's the first thing you kick out.

But kickers are good. Because they tend to be silly in nature, I'm a lot more relaxed when I read them. And I started re-writing them, too. You could tell where they were headed with these, because the final line in each kicker was a punchline. So, I naturally rewrote those to suit my own brand of humour.

I was about to re-write the final kicker when I was interrupted by a reporter from CFRN news, asking me if I wanted to say a few words about why I was doing this. Naturally, I said yes.

Reporter>> So, what brought you down here today?
Me>> Well, I finished NAIT's radio program back in the spring, and since then, I've been rejected by every radio station in town. So, I figured it was time for the public at large to reject me.
Reporter>> What do you think your chances are?
Me>> You know, I may have a little more experience than most people here, and I may have a little more education, but I'm not neccessarily better. I'll leave it at that.

And then they called me up there to audition. I gave all the neccessary release forms to the flunkie, and we traded inspirational cliches as he went over the ground rules with me.

Him>> Any questions?
Me>> Yeah. My throat is awful dry after standing in that line for so long. Could I have a drink of water?

He reached behind himself and pulled out a bottle of water. Much to his (and my) surprise, I slammed the whole thing back in one gulp.

And then...the big show.

I stood before three judges. There was a fourth guy running the equpiment - another former classmate from NAIT. We traded pleasantries and in-jokes. the judges told me to introduce myself into the microphone. I introduced myself as "Mark Cappis: Reject #1256."

I looked up at the new addition to the panel of judges. The reporter had followed me up there, and now he was jamming the camera in my face from my left-hand side, ready to capture the whole thing on film. Damn, I was nervous.

"No pressue," one of the judges sarcastically commented.

I briefly flashed back to some English classes that I taught in Japan, particularly the classes filled with students who didn't like me and complained after every lesson. I smiled a morbid smile. "Oh, I've been through worse," I remarked.

they asked me a few warm-up questions. They blindsided me with "What's your favourite movie?" Of course, without skipping I beat, I reply, "the Iron Giant." They remarked at the unusual choice, and then I had to explain in 25 words or less why.

They asked if I had any writing experience. I mentioned my website, but their ears perked up when I said, "Oh, and I studied radio at NAIT, where writing for radio was one of my best courses!" (I wasn't blowing smoke up anyone's ass; it really was one of my best courses.)

Then, my newscast. My re-written serious story went over well.

The second story had to do with the most common cat names. My punchline got a big laugh, in which I revealed my personal favourite cat name is still "J. Whiskers Tuffington the Third."

The next story had to do with the revelation that women tend to like guys who dress casually. My revised punchline was, "But remember...'casual' doesn't mean the Star Trek uniform your Mom made for you last Halloween." Another big laugh.

The final story was the one I didn't get a chance to re-write. It had to do with another statistic revealing that 1/3 of all people meet their spouses at work. The scripted punchline was "That's great news, unless you're a veteranarian." I deliverd that scripted punchline, and there was a colossal thud. Now, my improv skills suck, but I knew I had to do something to salvage this. So, I adopted a Bob Newheart-style stammer, and stammered out, "Well...you know...it...it could be good news if you're a veternarian. I mean...you know...I'm not here to judge." Big laugh.

They handed me my silver ticket. I had made it.

See, they're doing their newscaster search like Canadian Idol. That silver ticket means I make it to the next round, which is all the radio station higher-ups pouring over the tapes and deciding who they like the best. If they choose me to be among the best, I go to round 3, which is doing on-air newscasts and letting the people of Edmonton decide if I'm the next "newscaster idol."

But you know, my favourite thing was after they handed me my silver ticket, and I turned around, and I saw that all my friends who work at Sonic had been standing right behind me, cheering me on. The big joke about Sonic right now is that their building isn't finished being built yet, so they've been broadcasting from an ATCO trailer at the construction site. Something tells me there's going to be a lot of people in that trailer rooting for me.

Oh, and then, of course, they took my picture for the website, and I adopted one of my trademark "silly poses."

Afterwards, I did a little browsing in the Mall. I finally got my hands on one of the Padme action figures from Episode III. I've kinda been obsessed with this particular figure because, as near as I can tell, it's the first pregnant woman action figure. True, there have been controversial pregnant Barbie dolls, but, to the best of my knowledge, no pregnant woman action figures. I had to have it!

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