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My Shiny Happy Survival Job

June 17, 2012

I’ve worked in too many crappy jobs to mention, but some highlights include telemarketing, dog walking, as a waiter at an awful Times Square theme restaurant that might rhyme with Gubba Bump. It was the worst (almost) two years of my life. Kissing European tourists butts for 10% tips, dealing with managers 10 years younger than me and being in Times Square for it all are three things I never want to do again. I once was propositioned by two very large Black men who thought I would “host” them for a crazy threesome (after repeatedly telling them I was straight) because they left $9 on 65. But believe it or not, my current survival job (which has been pretty good to me), sometimes has me longing for that again. I think it comes from the fact that for the last 7 years I’ve been my own boss. I’ve made decent money, I work my own hours, get tipped before my performance and don’t have to ever worry about getting a shift covered. Maybe it’s because of the fact that I AM IN CHARGE that I pine for the days of peddling Forrest Gump influenced seafood dishes to Italian tourists that don’t know the difference between 2 and 20 (%), or care.  Maybe that’s the thing that makes me sometimes wish I had some 20 year old telling me how to properly “approach” a table of Midwesterners that want to tell me how great Mamma Mia just was.

See, I am a living statue/robot/mime/silver dude/street performer.  I started doing it for fun, right out of theater school and after a bit I was making more money at it than I was waiting said tables. I still do it and that’s often the most frustrating part. Why, after 7 years, must I still paint my face silver and stand on a box? Because this business is tough, that’s why. One day I know I will not have to rely on the kindness of strangers who want a picture with a tin man or to give him a buck to pinch his butt (yeah, it’s happened), but for now, I know it’s easier to do if I embrace and cherish this period of my life. I have seen a good deal working the streets, I’ve learned a lot about people, had some good times, some bad times and made a few friends (mostly homeless people).  I wrote a solo show about my experiences from it that won “Best One Man Comedy” at a festival last year and is FringeNYC bound this August. If you really wanna hear some stories, please check it out. The quick version is, yes I have dated another mime, I have been kicked in the balls, and I am not friends with the naked cowboy.  I won’t make a million off this job, and I won’t be able to do it much longer, due to mental and physical breaking points. But this “thing” that started out as fun, has led me to paid acting work, brought me to Russia and given me material that I currently do and will continue to mine in my writing for years to come. Having a survival job can suck sometimes. But it keeps you real, it keeps you fresh and it prevents you from taking things for granted. I’ve worked with some actors who haven’t had one for years, who seem to have forgotten that most actors need them, they seem to forget that if not for that one lucky break they got, they would also be slinging shrimp, picking up poop or miming the streets. I’ve heard these same people complain about an (acting) job they have to do, or some audition they have to go on to please their agent. People who are at a level I can only dream about and still they are not happy. So as frustrating as it may be to ask, “why am I still doing this crappy survival job?” I think it’d be even more frustrating to get to that place of being a working actor and then not appreciate it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 17, 2012 9:33 am

    Coolest survival job I’ve heard yet.

  2. July 1, 2012 6:34 pm

    I love that you do this as your survival job (brilliant). I love your perspective on having a survival job. I love this post. Well done. Really looking forward to seeing your show at the Fringe!

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