Thursday, February 07, 2008

Scrappy's Grad School Alternative

Hey, kids!

Want to prep yourself for a life of relentless disappointment and grinding, unending days and nights of cultural irrelevancy?

Sure you do!

Here at Scrappy Jack's School of Higher Learning and Home for Wayward Girls, we care about the young and the feckless.

We don't want to see you wasting your precious time and money sitting in some airless classroom listening to some failed, lying old bastard telling war stories about his brief and terrifying foray into the real world back in the early 70s. You're young, kids, and some of you are damned good-looking, so come on over and sit on Uncle Scrappy's knee and take the good tip 'cause I'm giving it for free.

Here's all you want to do:

1. Learn how to ride a horse, well.
2. Learn how to fence, passably.
3. Learn how to sing. (Everyone, actually, can sing. It's more about listening and finding a song you like than about singing.)

All that above will take you, conservatively, two to three years. During that time, read every play you can and read everything, anything, that in any tangential way has to do with the theater. Read biographies of old melodrama stars, read studies of Yiddish theater, read Clurman and Craig and Blau and absolutely anything at all, from the boring, dead prose of the academics to the scribbled, frantic notes of production books.

Also, read the paper everyday, you little cyberworld bastards. Find a paper, a physical thing, and read it. You can't read a script online the way you can read it in your hands, you need to get used to holding a thing, looking at it, looking back up at the world, etc.

After this two to three year period, move to New York City if you want to work onstage or L.A. if you want to work in TV or film. Both mediums are fine and honorable, just choose the one that makes you happier and concentrate on it for awhile.

And all due respect to my brethren and sistern in Chicago, Austin, Minneapolis, Dallas, etc., but I'm talking to those scamps out there that are hungry and crazy enough to believe that they won't need a day job by the time they're 30. It's one of the two coasts, kids, that's where the action is.

Now you're in sunny L.A. or Big Bad Rat City. Three years have gone by and you're getting used to reading your ass off. Find a place to live that's quiet and not ridiculously expensive. Find a survival job that doesn't physically kick your ass all day or night. Get a few friends, life is much harder without them. You're ready, now, for the part you have no control over.

If you're very brave and very lucky and very diligent and very patient, and if you're willing, without question, to take every single job offered to you, you have a shot, an outside shot, at paying your bills with the money you earn by acting within five to ten years.

And you'll have no debt to pay off and, most importantly,

You'll be able to ride a horse, fence and sing.

And any one of those three skills might save your life someday.

I guarantee you that knowing the given circumstances of a scene from The Glass Menagerie will never, in any situation, save your life.

So think about that next time you start eyeing the quiet, peaceful groves of Northwestern, Yale and UCLA.

You little bastards.

This has been Scrappy Jack, yer pal and personal trainer, speaking to the youth of this great nation. Be sure to come on down to the Museum this Friday and Saturday, it's Bingo and Booze night, all weekend long. As always, folks with funny names get in for free and please, no more of those Pizza Hut coupons, I misspoke back in the fall.

Love,

Scrappy

2 comments:

Rose said...

Sadly Granpa Scrappy, I already did my stint of wasting my life at School with a capital S. Thankfully, I escaped with passable construction skills and some good friends, as well as the hope that I might did myself out of poverty one day using only my freakish charm and crazy ideas. I think this has more to do with having a few wild and energetic people actually working at a college and teaching (amazing!) than it did with the idea as a whole. If I could go back and do it over, I think horseback riding and fencing might be more fun. And would probably be cheaper. Nope, definitely cheaper. :D

Ann said...

Where were you with this advice when I was all intent on getting a degree in Creative Writing? Or a Masters in Communication? Or that weirdly official looking Tantric Breathing Certificate I got via the internet?

And there's a right way to ride horses and fence? It's not just hop on and go, or gesticulate wildly with fencing implement? (Gesticulate Wildly would make a GREAT name for a band, by the way.)

I find this information very vexing. I need to go polish my diploma frames until this lightheaded feeling goes away...