For a few years, I've done voice overs for radio stations big and small, all around the world - but my audition this morning was for a TV station in Boston. If I get the job, I will be the voice that says:
"Tonight on CBS-4, an investigative report: why your tax dollars are being wasted on hookers and crack. Fern Knudsen reports at 11 on CBS-4."
It will be a big deal - my first television client. Obviously I was nervous and wishing for liquor.
The audition was to be conducted over a connection called an ISDN. It's a studio-quality phone line, and the decision-makers would be on the other end listening through a big set of speakers.
The day's beginning was coarse. The first thing I learned when I rose and opened my laptop was that my audition was an hour earlier than I thought. Which meant I would have to make it downtown in rush hour traffic in 25 minutes. No problem, with the help of the growling 325-horse engine in the 745Li, I accomplished the feat... only to learn the studio engineer - the guy who knows how to make the ISDN work - had overslept. It was up to me to set things up.
I don't need to tell you how ridiculous that concept is.
No matter which buttons I pushed, I could not determine why they could hear me but I couldn't hear them. With no hope of reaching audio nirvana without the help of hungover-sound-guy, we agreed to move the session back 45 minutes. What a GREAT first impression! Shit.
Finally the engineer guy arrived, he un-pushed the buttons I had pushed and we got things ready to go. The line connected, I exchanged pleasantries and apologies with the director in Boston and we were underway. I read a couple of fluff pieces for them, which were fine. I'm a real fluff kinda guy.
Then it was time to convince them. They wanted me to read the nightly news intro, the grandaddy of all voice over lines. It will be played over an official sounding news bed with drums, horns and strings, so I have to be good. I reached way down deep to muster up the serious, ominous tone it would require to accomplish my goal... and I let 'her rip.
"LIVE AT 11.. THIS IS YOUR LOCAL NEWSTATION... CBS 4 NEWS... WITH LISA HUGHES AND JOSH BINSWANGER."
A moment of silence, then they pop on. "Can you give us a little more umph, more authority. And be more serious, less friendly."
Gulp. Huh? Are they kidding?!? Nope, they wanted more. "Okay," I responded, "no problem!" My mind started changed gears. I had to go to a mental place I had never been before. I had to imagine I was someone else... somewhere else... in another time.
Yes, suddenly, I was Lord Fontleroy issuing a declaration of war over the huns of the valley.
Me: "LIVE AT 11.. (dramatic pause) THIS IS YOUR LOCAL NEWSTATION... CBS 4 NEWS... (dramatic pause) WITH LISA HUGHES AND JOSH BINSWANGER."
I should tell you how difficult it is to say "Binswanger" in a serious tone. Binswanger. BINZ-wang-er.
Another moment of silence. Their microphone clicks and I hear room noise, but nothing more.
Then, a clap. Another clap. Someone else joins in. Suddenly, applause erupts throughout the room and the director says "that was PERFECT!"
So what could a guy like me possibly do at a moment like this - but spill his coffee.
All over the control board. All over my pants. Shorting out the microphone and sending a small whisp of smoke toward the ceiling.
And losing the connection with Boston.
I smiled. What more COULD I do? There are just some days you wish you could fast-forward through. I picked up my cell phone, dialed the television station, thanked them for their time and sunk back in my chair. It was time for a double Lagavulin on the rocks.
I'll let you know if I get the gig.