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People love to laugh, which explains why situation comedies are such a big part of TV programming. While script writers create the comedic situations, it is the actor's responsibility to interpret the comedy to the audience, and it is not an easy task. But before you can employ your skills at making people laugh on a TV sitcom, you have to first get cast in the role, and that usually means going through the audition process.
You might think the world of TV acting is a closed community and that only those who know the secret handshake have access to auditions. The truth is, TV sitcoms are always on the lookout for talented, fresh faces. While a secret handshake really isn't required, you do need to understand the audition process, and that starts with learning how to find auditions. TV acting is a profession, and like most other professions, there are trade magazines, in both print and online formats, that report open auditions. You can also sign up for a number of casting-notice websites. Many are free for basic access, but might charge a fee for more features. Some are national, while others focus on regional opportunities. The bottom line is, you can't audition for a TV sitcom if you don't know about the audition.
Submit for Audition
Some TV sitcoms might offer an open audition, sometimes referred to in the industry as a cattle call, in which you show up, take a number and eventually get to audition. Other projects might ask for submissions, then schedule audition times. Check the audition notice carefully to see what information the casting director needs and follow those directions. The casting director wants to see a copy of your headshot, which is an 8-by-10 color close-up photo of your face; your resume; or your acting reel, which is a three- to five-minute video montage of samples of your best acting work. Only submit what the casting director requests. The submission process saves you time and energy. If the casting agent likes what she sees, she'll contact you to set up an audition time. If she doesn't, you haven't wasted your time and resources sitting in a room with hundreds of other hopefuls.
Prepare for Audition
Every audition is unique, so preparing can be challenging. Some projects involve cold readings from the script. Some casting directors want to see you deliver a prepared monologue, or they might ask you to improvise a scene. You might get a copy of the sides, which is a small portion of the script, for the scene you'll perform as part of your audition. Your agent or the casting director should provide you with information regarding what to expect during the audition. It's your responsibility to be as prepared as possible based on the information you're given.
Go For It
Be on time for your audition, but don't be too early -- 10 to 15 minutes prior to your call time is usually appropriate. Sign in and wait your turn. The audition process might last from a few seconds to a few minutes. However much time you are allowed, you must own the stage. Greet the casting director and any other decision-makers who might be in attendance, deliver your audition, respond to any feedback offered, thank them for the opportunity to audition, then leave. You've done all you can. The decision on who to cast for the role is out of your hands. Go home and start preparing for your next audition.
Mike Parker is a full-time writer, publisher and independent businessman. His background includes a career as an investments broker with such NYSE member firms as Edward Jones & Company, AG Edwards & Sons and Dean Witter. He helped launch DiscoverCard as one of the company's first merchant sales reps.
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