FOR THE HELL OF IT
ON DOING THE “RIGHT” THING
By Johnny Heller
August 29, 2023
Today’s blog is designed to tell you what to do in almost any situation. The important thing to keep in mind is that I am going to offer very bad advice. You should, under no circumstances, do anything I suggest in the following scenarios, but I have learned that when I give good advice, it rarely gets taken and people do whatever they wanted to do in the first place. This is because people, as a group, generally suck. So instead of offering actual advice that will likely work out wonderfully for you, I am going to tell you to act horribly – knowing that you will likely ignore my “advice” and, with any luck, accidentally do the right thing. This is known as “reverse psychology” and many studies have shown that it never works. If you don’t believe me, then I would ask you to consider teenagers for a moment and then get back to me.
Being obstinate, irritating, and contrarian seems built into our teenage DNA. It’s certainly the reason everyone loves kids but hates teenagers. It’s when one becomes a teen that one really begins making idiotic choices. For some, that habit – of always doing the wrong thing at the wrong time – lasts well into their adult years and turns some to dark side – even making some people choose to become attorneys. Or Republicans. This is because people, as a group, generally suck.
Another thing I noticed is that most of my good ideas get stolen by other actors and presented to the world as their good ideas. This is also because people, as a group, generally suck.
I have suggested to many people that they stop sucking but that brilliant bit of wisdom has also been roundly rejected in favor of a much easier route – to keep sucking.
I believe humans are hotwired to react in the most bizarre and questionable fashion whenever possible – like eating peeps at Easter even though you know they taste horrible, stick to your teeth and are just gross; or taking your shoes off on an airplane; or watching videos on your iPhone in a public place without using earphones. All of these choices should be treated with a long prison sentence, but they aren’t. Heck, in our nation, you can stage a coup, mount an insurrection, obstruct justice, and still run for President in violation of the 14th Amendment. Weird, right?
Let’s consider some situations we may find ourselves in – and what the most idiotic, absurd, guaranteed to make the situation worse – actions and reactions we can take might be. If the moronic action I suggest (and, again, I am not really suggesting it -but the opposite, is indicative of how you would typically react in that situation, you might want to consider some behavioral changes and a few years of therapy, preferably on a remote island.
I could just tell you what to do, but as I mentioned at the opening, no one seems to take my advice no matter how brilliant I am or how brilliant I keep telling you I am. Let us begin.
1. MEETING IMPORTANT PEOPLE
Whenever you meet someone who may be important to your career or life, always talk too much about yourself. Everyone loves to hear about you and your recent trip to the supermarket to buy laundry detergent. Don’t forget to include many references to friends and family that the person you’re meeting doesn’t know or care about.
Whenever possible, go off on unrelated tangents that are even less interesting than the main story you are boring the person with. If you note the person looking at their watch or making a move to leave, physically block them until you tell them about how much you saved on your detergent by using coupons.
If they say they need to go meet some friends for lunch, smile broadly – preferably with last night’s salad still in your bicuspids – and tell them you’d love to join them!
You will definitely be remembered.
- AUDITIONING FOR A GIG
Always audition for jobs you aren’t right for. If you are a 55-year-old white man with a deep bass voice and the role calls for an Asian teenage girl, by all means, send an audition. And don’t just send the audition and wait to hear. Send emails every 15 minutes after you audition to see if you got the gig. Tell them you have a very full schedule, so you need to know immediately if you are in the running. If you know of other actors who auditioned for the same role, let the casting people know your opinion of those actors – and don’t hesitate to pin a murder rap on them.
If you are asked if you can do a Yorkshire accent and you don’t even know what a Yorkshire pudding is, tell them you were born in Yorkshire and the American accent they are presently hearing is a sample of your acting ability. You can do everything. Let them know how good you are by telling them – again and again. If you are auditioning for a duet or a large cast audiobook, let them know that you can do all the roles, so they don’t need anyone else.
If the project is due on September 23rd and you know you will be out of town for the month of September because you have to act as a mule for a Columbian cartel for the whole month, tell them you can do it- no problem.
- MAINTAINING RELATIONSHIPS WITH PUBLISHERS
Once you’ve worked with a publisher, make sure you stay in touch with them, so they keep you in mind. The best way to do this is to find out where they live and pitch a tent on their lawn. Take an interest in their lives by invading it in every way possible. I promise they will be thinking about you a lot!
If you can’t get their home address, hang out at their office. Nothing cheers up a busy harried casting producer more than seeing you and your winning smile every morning… and at lunch… and when they leave for the day. If you can, follow them into the subway and sit across from them – staring at them the entire ride. It’s a surefire way to get them to notice you.
- WORKING WITH COACHES
I know that you have a great voice. Everyone has told you so and you, in turn, have told everyone else. Still, it can help to get a little coaching even though you are already a brilliant actor because you’ve been watching cable tv shows and movies forever and it sure seems easy. Besides, to be honest, audiobooks are just reading out loud one word after the other so how hard can it be?
The first thing you want to do is find a coach by doing a little research. Ask about coaches on social media and write down all the names suggested. Then, ignore their experience and credits and just pick the cheapest one. Even a coach who has done one more book than you is fine. If you’ve done none and they’ve done none, you can probably get their coaching really cheaply. You’re not likely to learn anything but you can add that you’ve had training to your resume and that’s certainly worth a few bucks.
The coach who tells you about the work the job involves, the equipment that you should get, the business acumen you will need to acquire, and the marketing skills you must have is probably a pain in the butt so go with the coach who listens to you read a bit and after noticing you’ve stopped talking says: “Sounds fine to me! Wouldn’t change a thing!” – that’s your guy.
Always go with a coach who promises you easy money through voice over with almost no skill, investment, or training. A get rich quick guy is the best coach to get.
- MASTERING SOCIAL MEDIA
Remember- the whole point of social media is to share your super important life with the entire universe. There is no question at all that the earth would stop spinning if we didn’t know what you had for lunch last Tuesday. The internet isn’t to share information. It’s to share information about you.
So post everything all the time everywhere all at once (that sounds like a fine movie title). If you just finished reading an ingredient label on a box of Oreos, for God’s sake – tell us! How can you keep stuff like that to yourself?
If you get an audition, let us know. If you don’t get the book, you should definitely post incendiary libelous comments about the publisher. If you get the book, tell us, and always make sure to take a moment to denigrate all the morons who had the audacity to audition for your job.
As always, the best time to post is when you are angry or drunk – a combination of the two is ideal.
Another excellent idea is to hijack every post you read and make it about you. If someone is posting about a school library having the temerity to have Huck Finn on its shelves, jump in there and talk about your favorite lunch sandwich. Remember, everything is about you.
- DEALING WITH THE SUCCESS OF YOUR PEERS
It makes no sense at all, but sometimes other actors will get work. I know some jobs will say that the narrator has to be a female and you aren’t one; or it has to be a male and you aren’t one; or it has to be a native French speaker and you sound like Pepe Le Pew or the job will require some other thing that isn’t you, but let’s face it – that’s just bull crap. If you’ve followed my advice up to now, you’ve already made it quite clear to the world that you can play anyone from anywhere and every gender. And yet, casting people sometimes screw up and give a job to someone else! Life is unfair sometimes and other people get gigs you clearly deserve.
When someone mentions their successes or awards or reviews or accolades, always remind them that you are much better than they are and that they only got the job because you were too busy. Let them know that you think they suck and let them know that you are going to tell whoever hired them that they made a mistake in doing so.
And make sure that everyone knows you are only interested in the greater good – that you are only trying to prevent the actor in question from further embarrassment by doing any more work in the industry and you are acting in service to the listening public. Why should someone have to listen to a book narrated by someone that isn’t you?
I’m sure your altruism will be appreciated.
I can give even more advice, but I think you get the gist. Heck, if you even do one of the things I’ve suggested here, I guarantee it will affect your career.
In closing, I want to remind you that I am giving you this advice in the certain knowledge that you will not take it and, if history is a lesson, you will likely do the exact opposite of what I suggest. If you stay true to form and ignore my sage advice in this post, everything should work out just fine!