Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Time I Got Paid $300 to Be Laura Robertson

photo from here
Did I ever tell you guys about the one time I made $300 from pretending to be depressed?

My roommate at the time, Cecily, was working at NYU and was responsible for organizing a day-long training intensive for the nurses working at the Student Health Services Clinic. Said day of learning involved the use of "standardized patients", i.e. actors who pretend to have diseases commonly reported among the NYU college student population, so basically mono and herpes.  Even though I had never acted a day in my life, Cecily slipped me in knowing I could use the $300 each standardized patient/actor received for their medically-driven performance.

I was assigned to play "Laura Robertson", a 20-year-old college sophomore who was mildly depressed and having trouble dealing with homesickness.  At the time I myself was a 23-year-old college graduate who was unemployed, mildly depressed and having trouble dealing with my parents' divorce.  You could call my performance as Laura Robertson "acting" or, as I called it, "getting out of bed on a Tuesday". Laura Robertson and I were one in the same, except I was paying a lot more for health insurance.

After a quick "audition", I spent the day playing a strange, medical version of the 20 Questions game with a rotating cast of real-life nurses, answering inquiry after inquest about Laura Robertson's sleep patterns, appetite, sexual history and family history as each nurse probed (figuratively) to solve the mystery that had brought Laura Robertson to the student health clinic.  Let me clarify there was no touching. That would've cost at least another fifty bucks.

Although I really loved the $300 and free Dunkin Donuts munchkins, it wasn't enough to make me enjoy acting, if you can even call playing yourself but just answering to the name "Laura" acting. Either way, I'm not cut out for it. It makes my hands sweat.

Speaking of sweaty palms, just reading the following acting and audition-related articles made my drink slip out of my hands:

A New York Times collective on auditioning for SNL

Jimmy Fallon's SNL audition tape

Alec Baldwin interviewing Kristin Wiig about her audition (and, I'd like to imagine, sweaty palms)

Ps - What was the weirdest job you ever had?  This was definitely mine.

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