I Got Punk'd - April 3rd - 2005

I Got Punk'dSunday, 3rd April
Happy April! It’s Saturday morning here in West Hollywood. I finally put aside some time to update this journal. Quick updates. The Laugh Factory show from last month’s entry went well. So well that they asked me to come back in August! Hooray for urban shows!

Also, I have taken a writing job with the program ‘Showbiz India Extreme’ (airing on the I-Channel) It’s more work than I expected. I produce a segment on the show called ‘Generation Desi’ where a camera crew and host ventures into California colleges and nightlife spots to find out what the young Indian community is up to. I, personally, think it’s the best part of the show but the exec producer keeps telling me, “Tarun, we can’t make fun of people. Bad karma.” It’s a lot funnier than my description so you’ll just have to watch it yourself.

I think my most interesting experience from March came from an audition I had for MTV’s ‘Punk’d.’ It was to be a regular cast member on the show, I guess one of the sidekicks who helps play pranks on celebrities.

I tip my hat to anyone who’s an actor. Whether you’re auditioning in California for movies or Montana for community theater, it is extremely hard to accept constant rejection as a way of life.

So you can imagine my state of euphoria/confusion when I got a call telling me I was down to the final 12 to be on Punk’d. I go to MTV on Thursday morning. They have all twelve of us wait outside. People sitting on steps, standing around. It’s a bit weird because we know some of us will be cut and some of us will have a little bit more money tomorrow. I converse with this girl, Sarah. (I think she made it onto the show.) She’s really sweet, and we talked about comedy, life, anything but this audition.

Deep down I know it’s in the bag. The improv I had with the casting director the past week was pretty good, I’ve been doing stand-up for a long time, and I have a lot of audition experience. It is my time. I’ve paid my dues. Success is imminent.

An hour later I’m brought with another auditioner into the casting room. There’s at least six producers and of course, Ashton Kucher. He’s got this lame winter hat on even though it’s like 80 degrees outside. I do a double take because he’s actually really tall in person. Anyways, they tell me and my partner to choose a subject we’re an expert on. He chooses Batman, I choose cockatiels. (I had a pet cockatiel when I was kid.) Then they tell us, “Make assumptions, making fun of each other without making fun of each other.” I ask them to repeat the instructions because I am lost. They repeat the instructions, and I am still lost. Sensing my confusion, the casting director chimes in “Tarun, just like how we did in the casting room this week.” Well, I did improv scenes with her this past week, so now I really have no idea what I’m doing. I look at my partner for help, and he shrugs his shoulders.

We start the scene. Three minutes of inane dialogue and ‘assumptions’ that goes nowhere. No laughter, I actually heard somebody cough. The exec producer stops us. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING!” Ashton asks us to start again.

At least there is no way we can get any worse than the first time, right? Wrong. Our second attempt sucks even worse. A part of me is thinking “Am I being Punk'd?” The other half is thinking how funny this is considering this audition is a complete train wreck.

This time Ashton stops the scene, “THIS IS NOT GOING ANYWHERE!” He asks us to break for a minute and try one more time. I ask my partner, “Any suggestions?”
We tell them we’re ready and do the scene the same exact way from the first time. “BOTH OF YOU... OUTSIDE!” Supposedly, they wanted us to come back, but then I found out we were ‘released,’ which is Hollywood code for ‘please never come back.’

People always ask “Was Ashton Kucher a d***?” No, actually, he was quite cool. And except for his annoying hat, I have nothing bad to say about him. Although I will say, my manger got feedback that I ‘imploded’ in the casting room, which is absolutely not true. I just wasn’t great that day. In fact, I wasn’t even good! I was terrible! But you know what, I gave it my best, and I ‘assume’ that’s good enough for me.

Tarun ShettyComment