Author Archives: Kevin Comartin

And the Nominees are: … an Actor’s Game

The source is an Acting major at USC. He’s in a small class of 17 people that have every class together for all four years, and do several plays together as an ensemble.

And the Nominees are: is a game that the male actors in the class made up, while backstage for a production of the play Moonchildren. It is an improv game that can be played anywhere, and a round of the game generally occurs any time four or more of the original players are in the same room, and have time to kill.

The game is played as follows:

One person in the group starts the game off with “And the nominees are:” they include someone’s name in the group, and then make up a movie title for that person to act off of. So a person might say, “And the nominees are: Jack Smith, for his performance in The Darkest Knight”, then Jack Smith would have to improvise a 15 second Oscar clip from the made up movie. The nominated player can include any other player in his Oscar scene, and they must play along. After a player performs his Oscar clip, all of the other players clap for him, and shout out stupid questions heard at many actor Q & A’s, for example: “What’s your process?”. After that, any player can create a new nomination for another player in the group.

Play continues until all players have performed their Oscar clip. Then, any player can declare a winner. The winner is not decided for any particular reason, as the game is not competitive, but just to end the round. The winning player then finds something to stand on top of to deliver an acceptance speech. It is good form to start the speech with the phrase, “Means the world”. Depending on how funny the speech is, the other players will allow the speech to end naturally, or start making up a song to cut the speech short.

New rounds are started, and the game can keep going into perpetuity. Generally play naturally fizzes out after 10-15 minutes, or the players are yelled at by their stage manager for being too loud, and the game is cut short.

 

This game probably caught on for three reasons. First, it allows the players to keep warm, and keep performing during large breaks in rehearsal or before shows. Second, its an effective method of ensemble bonding, as all of the players support and entertain each other. Lastly, it allows the players to joke about and make fun of the Oscars, because as actors, they most likely all have a deep desire to win an Oscar they’re afraid to talk about with each other.

Recipe for Success in Hollywood

There’s a saying in Los Angeles that if you’re an actor going in for a casting director, you’ll be successful if you are:

Happy, Pretty, Busy.

The source learned this saying from his girlfriend, who was a child star in several movies in the ’90s. Whenever she went on auditions, she was coached to always be Happy, Pretty, Busy; to be as desirable as possible.

It meaning is fairly straightforward, it is a guideline to making good impressions when meeting people in the film and TV industry.. You need to be happy, so people don’t think you’re a miserable person to work with, and to show you have a positive attitude. Pretty, because you need to be good looking or you wont get cast. Busy, you always need to be coming from something important, or going to something important immediately after a meeting; because people will want you more if they think other people really want you. Also if you make a person in the industry feel like meeting them is the most important thing you have to do that day, they wont take you as seriously.

Ghost Potato

Click Here for Audio file of Interview

“So, Ghost Potato is a game, that was passed on to me, uh when I lived in England, by a colleague. And I don’t know where he got it from, whether it’s an ancient game, I am uncertain about that. But in Ghost Potato, a large group of people are divided up into two possible roles: one is Ghost, and the other is Potato. Uhh, the game is then played blindfolded or with closed eyes. Nobody can see anything. And uh, the participants wander around a-a confined space. When they bump into each other, they must gently whisper their identity to one another. So for example, someone would bump into someone and then they’d just go ghost, or like that, or potentially potato. Now, and then the rules of the game state that if a ghost meets a ghost and they, exchange identities, then nothing happens. And if a potato meets a potato, then, nothing happens. But if a ghost should meet a potato, then the potato DIES! That is the rule of the game. And then all dead potatoes move to the side of the room, next to the sensei or referee who’s looking, who’s looking after the whole thing, and um, and then when potatoes, dead potatoes see live potatoes in danger of being caught by ghosts, they are encouraged to make the following sound: oohwoahohoh. Like that, thus warning the still living potatoes, or tubers, uh that they are um, potentially about to be caught. That’s ghost potato.”

“Well, I understand, all walks of life can attempt Ghost Potato, but it is a little dangerous. So I prefer to reserve it for, um, sophisticated, uh, actors, who understand, the dangers of, of the imagination. And uh, I think in my time only one or two people have tipped over the edge and, and sort of lost themselves in the spiritual abyss that awaits them, at the vortex which is Ghost Potato.”

 

This game allows the players to really have fun, and prevent them from taking themselves too seriously. The rules are extremely simple, and its very funny when Actors, many of whom try to come off as serious artists play something that was probably designed for kindergartners. Its also like a practical joke on the players, because the source, who moderates this game with his students, gets to watch a group of adults wander around a room, bump into each other and whisper.

Marzipan Potatoes

The source’s father is a second generation Norwegian. Her grandfather immigrated from Norway to Chicago. While marzipan isn’t a specifically Norwegian desert, its found at every family gathering.

What makes the family marzipan unique, is that they always make it in the shape of a potato. This tradition was started by the source’s grandmother, who felt that potatoes were good luck, and wanted to serve marzipan potatoes to the family member so everyone would drive home safely. Her grandmother has since passed on, but the family tradition is now carried on by her Aunt Camille.

I believe that the tradition of making their favorite marzipan desert in the shape of potatoes reflects the family’s new home in Chicago, which has always had a very large Irish population.

Nigerian Lullaby

“So my sophomore year, one of my acting professors was this big crazy guy that did a lot of volunteer work around the world. He was like, really big into using theatre as therapy and stuff like that, and he goes to Nigeria every few years to work with the people there, and give aid, and use theatre to help them deal with the situation over there. And anyway, he taught us this song, which is a Nigerian lullaby, and its a round. And I don’t remember if he actually told us what it meant, no one in the class remembers what it meant, and we might even be singing the wrong words. But we like sing it, the people in my acting class, that took that class with him sing it. We use it as a warm up song before performances, because its pretty gentle on the voice, and also sometimes when we get together, and we’ve been drinking we sing it, because everyone knows the tune, and its a round so it sounds good without people having to know how to create harmonies and stuff like that.”

Nigerian Lullaby

 

I find it remarkable that the song has really been re-purposed from a lullaby to essentially a drinking song by the group of actors, who really don’t know what the song means, and could be singing the wrong words anyway. I think it’s a testament that certain sounds, like harmonies are almost universally pleasing. I don’t believe the meaning of the song is the reason people in Nigeria still sing it to their children, but rather that the sounds are relaxing and pleasing to the ear. That’s why people from cultures as disparate as Nigeria and the United States can find so much enjoyment in the same tune.