I never liked the expression “pay your dues”. It comes up in our business when we don’t get cast in a show or a commercial regardless of how well we might have auditioned. We’re told that we haven’t paid our dues. I think it’s so distasteful because it implies that even though you have the talent and ability for something it is being denied you because of the arbitrary and poorly defined cocnept of dues. Who are they paid to? What is their approximate dollar value? Before you vow that you will never make anyone pay dues when you’re in charge realize that you already make people pay dues all the time.
This is an experiment I did with my class last week. There were 15 students and I asked them about how likely they would be to try out a new restaurant under certian circumstances. How willing would you be to try a restaurant you’ve never been to if…
Circumstance #1 …you are going out with your close friend you see all the time. 13 of 15 students said yes, they’d go to a place the’ve never been to before.
Circumstance #2 …you have an old friend in town that has never been to the city. 10 of 15 said yes.
Circumstance #3 …your folks are in town. 8 of 15, just over 50% said they’d try a new restaurant with thier out-of-town family.
Circumstance #4 …your significant others parents are in town and this is the first time your are meeting them. Only 5 of the 15 students would risk an unproven restaurant.
Circumstance #5 …a mysterious stranger is your dinner guest and if he has a good meal he’ll pay you $10,000. For the chance to win 10 grand only 2 people said they’d take the mysterious stanger to a place they haven’t been to and properly vetted. (I guess while I’ve never been to Charlie Trotter’s it would be worth dropping a couple hundred bucks a plate for a chance at $10,000.)
As the preceived importance of a good meal goes up we find it more difficult to trust new restaurants. Why? Because they haven’t paid their dues. How does a restaurant pay it’s dues? By having people eat there and have a good time. They pass the word along and maybe give it a good Yelp review. Same thing with us s performers, we pay our dues by making sure people have a nice time with us. As we interact with people onstage and off we become a known quantity. The value of a known quantity may supsercede it’s value as a restaurant or an actor or whatever. I’m sure there are many unkowns in Hollywood that could act rings around Tom Arnold. His value is less in his abilities and more in the fact that when you hire Tom Arnold you get the peace of mind knowing exactly what you’ll get.
So you just moved to Chicago. You’re a super nice person and honest and generous and talented but when you show up at your first Second City audition, as strange as it may sound, you are a very risky choice.
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Posted by firstname.lastname@example.org on November 30th, 2011 :: Filed under Uncategorized