Some people are party animals.
I’m more of a party begonia; a begonia in serious need of water. By that I mean, if I don’t know folks at the party, I have trouble not planting roots in one spot and feeling like I’m slowly wilting. I tell myself I probably feel far more stupid than I actually look. I could be wrong.
Now that may sound funny coming from a guy who’s an actor. After all: actors get up in front of hundreds of strangers and do all kinds of things, right? They can’t be shy or socially awkward. Well, I’m here to bust that myth wide open.
On stage, in character, I’m whatever I need to be. That’s true. But the lines are all written and memorized and my attitude, stature and poise are all meticulously planned. At a party, it’s all improv and it’s all me. The trick is to be scintillatingly charming, quick-witted, anecdote rich and effortlessly photogenic me. On a good day, I can be two out of three. To try to be all four at once makes me feel like Sisyphus…with syphilis.
Now the other possibility is that the extroverted actor side of me only comes out when I’m on stage or in front of a camera…and the reclusive writer side of me skulks around at all other times. This would make my life akin to a kind of twisted version of Superman: put lights on me and I leap tall screenplays in a single bound; otherwise I’m all tongue-tied, clumsy
Clark . Kent
But I throw myself out there into the party world and the rewards are worth it. I get to see new places, meet new people and get out of my comfort zone—which is always good for growth and I’m a big proponent of growth. (Or maybe, being only 5’7”, I’m just a little proponent of growth. Yuk, yuk.) Also, as an actor, it’s good to give new people the opportunity to meet me; I could be perfect for their next film. I mean, they could be planning a sequel to “The 40 Year Old Virgin”, right?
The last industry party I manage to make an appearance at is a little different. This is because I actually know a few people there which, thankfully, happens more and more as I continue to work in the business. I still have to make my entrance alone (which always feels like I’m an ugly Cinderella arriving late to the ball) and wander through a mostly unfamiliar crowd. But the venue is Boardner’s in Hollywood, which is a great space and the event—the opening night party of Shriekfest—is set up in spectacular fashion, with the red carpet leading directly to the food and drinks, the press upstairs and the music lively and festive.
I shuffle through the crowd and look for the few friends I am hoping to find. For a gathering of horror fans and filmmakers, the crowd isn’t the least bit scary. In fact: I wonder, as I circle, looking for familiar faces, if I’m actually starting to scare some people:
“That dude in the shiny blue shirt has walked by me three times. Should we call security?”
Eventually, I do manage, to find most of my friends…and along the way, I meet a few really interesting folks.
And who knows which of them I may be working with next? Or which of them will become one of the friends I'll be seeking out at the next party I haunt.
Now: did I feel completely comfortable at any time during the event? If you read the first paragraph, you know that answer. But you also know that I’m okay with the unease; challenges to my shy, social awkwardness help me to lessen its severity. And it no doubt provides other people amusement and anecdotes to share at their next party:
“Yeah, well he may be a great actor, but what a dork! At the last party, he. . .”
Check out the Shriekfest Film Festival at: