Wednesday, January 05, 2005

rick shapiro, part two

rick was telling me about all the cool things that were happening for him. a part of him was frustrated, though, because nothing was happening fast enough. "i'm ready now," he kept saying. "my material is strong, it's fresh, i'm on. i'm so ready..." and then his voice trailed off. his friend sighed. a moment passed. rick said that every thing was his second chance at this and he felt nothing but gratitude. he was glad that it didn't happen the first time around. he was too young, too crazy. he wouldn't have appreciated any of it. he would have blown it if he'd gotten famous, he said and then he said, "i blew it on the way there." he wanted more. much more. and he wanted it now. his biggest lament was that he got the aspen comedy festival but he wasn't on the main stage. he also just did an indie. a small part but a significant one. and he was really funny in it, too, he reassured me. it'll be cool when it comes out.

after we talked about all of those ins and outs, i told him that there were a few things that i always kept in mind whenever i got impatient about my career. i actually got these tips from an interview i read in vogue magazine about naomi watts. as she explained the trajectory of her career, i had an epiphany. i realized that she was a person and that she wasn't born in the position that she's in right now. she had to move to another country no less (!!!) and rent an apartment and take class and get a busted car to get around LA in and figure it out like everybody else. and although she did it, she had her frustrating moments, moments when her manager would tell her, you're coming off in auditions like you're desperate and it's freaking out the casting agents, and she wouldn't know how to stop doing that. that is so real to me. and it didn't happen for her when she was 19. Or 28. Or even 35.

reading that article really took the edge off of the whole "acting" thing. i guess that's when i started to really concentrate on learning how to play the piano.

because it's going to happen when it's going to happen. and when it happens is out of my hands. there's a lot that's in my hands but i can only do but so much. my being frustrated and desperate isn't going to make anything move faster. the reality of it all is, it might actually slow things up. after a certain point, all you can do is wait. while i'm waiting, i may as well play the piano and write songs, and have a beautiful life instead of getting wound up everytime i see someone i know on tv or in some movie.

according to miss watts, the first really huge thing to keep in mind is, your career may not be where you want it to be but there is someone out there that would do anything to trade places with you, right where you are now. "you may not be on the main stage at aspen but at least you're going," i said, and i went on. "you're getting a lot of press, a lot of exposure. they're comparing you to lenny bruce. do you know how many people would love to hear their name connected to his in any way? i mean, how cool is that? casting agents on both coasts know who you are. how many times were you on colin quinn's show? you're in the union for cryin' out loud. you're a working professional. there are so many non-union actors out there. you think they wouldn't trade places with you, just so they could say, 'i'm a pro'?" i stopped for a moment. they both looked at me. "i can think of plenty of unknown stand-up comedians that i know that would push somebody in front of a moving vehicle to have your career. and all you can do is complain. how dare you. you can always do better but in the grand scheme of things, you're doing great."

rick laughed and then he mumbled, "i never thought about it like that."

"and here's something else to think about," i said. "no matter how long anything takes, one part can change everything. with one part, everyone can know who you are, you're on the map, you're viable. one part can make up for lost time like there was never any lost time at all."

more silence from the peanut gallery.

"the third one is mine and it's kind of enormous," i said. "but basically, you have to trust God. He knew you'd screw it up the first time around. that's why it's happening now. i mean, don't you think you're better at it now? don't you think you've got more depth? won't that first time screw up keep you humble and grateful?"

rick said yes.

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