Any graduate acting program seems to suffer from the same set of awful ironies. First, they make admission incredibly challenging because they’re separating the wheat from the chaff. Then they spend the next three years reminding you how bad you suck. Second, they stress the honor and artistic integrity of being a devout theatre actor, but the only alums they celebrate are the ones that get sitcoms. By my third year in the MFA program at NYU, I was ready to shoot the esteemed faculty right in their fucking faces. Other than my acting teacher, Ron Van Lieu, the feeling was mutual amongst the faculty.
The singing teacher hated me because I was an awful singer, which happened to coincide with HER being an awful cunt. The voice teacher hated me because, try as I might, I could not get much past the third row of a theatre. The Shakespeare diction coach hated me because… let’s be honest – it’s ‘Shakespeare diction’ – it was painfully pointless and my only joy in the class derived from my ability to mock it at every turn. I was as close as you can get to being persona non grata in the NYU MFA program. As a result, I got cast in a lot of roles with “#1″ or “#2″ as their suffixes. The types with lots of standing around but only one line and it was always something like, ‘My liege, dost thou desire thy sword?’ For most aspiring actors, this kind of experience would have destroyed their spirit, Luckily, part of me knew the whole concept of a school for acting was fucking retarded and silly, so I was able to enjoy the best part of NYU every day, and that was the NY.
Still, it was clear to at least one other classmate that I was sort of unhappy there. Or at least that I didn’t fit in. So one day, this classmate, Flo, came up to me and said, “You know Bill, my boyfriend did a show with this actor in Seattle and he’s got some crazy late-night serial show in the East Village. It’s pretty weird shit, but this guy is supposed to be pretty interesting. He’s holding auditions tomorrow if you wanna go.”
Fuck it. I went. Why not?