I'm not the new Wayans brother

December 20, 2011|By Ernest Wilkins, RedEye

It happens all the time. You see some new show or hot, young comedian/actor/musician and immediately think, "This is terrible! I can think of 20 people who are way better than this chump. Hell, even I can do better than that."

Well, one of the things we need to change in this world is people not putting their money where they chew their food. I'm just as guilty as anyone else, so I decided to put myself out there: On Tuesday, I attempted to audition for the reboot of "In Living Color," the seminal '90s comedy show that brought us Jim Carrey, Damon Wayans, Jennifer Lopez and Jennifer Lopez's magnificent wagon.

People tell me I'm funny, and I've done a little bit of improv, so I wagered it wouldn't be necessary to prepare. I could just show up and see what happens, right? I wasn't the only one. At least 250 other folks showed up for the open audition at the future location for the Laugh Factory Comedy Club in Lakeview.

While I waited in line, I made some observations.

>>There was a noticeable tension in the air, which was perfectly explained by a guy who traveled from Cleveland to audition: "It's two minutes to decide your fate, you know?" The thought that someone's casual observation of your entire personality can decide your career is a trip to think about. If you arrive too late, you might wait all day in the cold and not even get to audition. When faced with that kind of reality, you start to create excuses. Give yourself an out. Maybe subconsciously you arrived a little late so that you never made it to the front of the line. That way, you missed the audition but still get to complain. You were in line the whole time! You can then say things like, "Oh, that's BS! How are they gonna end now? I would have killed that!"

>>People are afraid of comedians. Seriously. Maybe they've seen episodes of "Def Comedy Jam" and fear getting made fun of, but I counted a lot of folks who walked up asking what the hubbub was about, then slowly backed away when they found out it was a pile of comedians. Cold comedians.

>>Delusion is a hell of a drug. Either that, or I stood in line with 70-plus people who are ruling Chicago in the comedy game yet never have received any sort of coverage or promotion whatsoever. Man, I must be out of the loop. Which leads me to my next point.

>>Stop trying so hard, everyone! It's one thing when it's 35 degrees out and everyone's standing around. It's another thing when you're standing around in 35-degree weather with some overconfident goon trying his "awkward nerd on a date" routine on everyone around you. Seriously, you're auditioning for the casting director's homie. I can't make you famous. Neither can the guy in the afro wig next to me.

Unfortunately, I never did make it in for an audition. While it would have been eight different kinds of awkward having to do a two-minute bit for the camera with absolutely no prep, I really wanted to see what I could have done. But at least I went for it. As long as you go for what you want, no one will fault you for trying.

I already know I'm funny, anyway. You ever hear the one about the hooker in the hockey mask?


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