I finally get on television and I'm wearing a sparkly gold cape...let me explain.
Recently I was given the opportunity to interview the cast of 10 Items or Less. Well, not just the interviews. Against their better sense, they let me have a walk-on role! If you haven't seen the show, you are missing out. 10 Items or Less is set in a grocery store and is completely improved. Sure, there's a script, but the actors never get to see it. It's filmed in a real grocery store in Southern California. In fact, filming is halted every time a real-life customer exits. It airs on TBS at 11pm and the new season starts on January 6th.
My episode aired on January 20th. That's the same day as...what was it? Some guy getting sworn in for something...I think I heard something about it somewhere. I'm sure it won't affect the ratings. Anyway, I was incredibly excited. I used to be an actor in another life, but it was all on stage. My only experience on television is selling makeup on QVC. You can stop laughing now. Anyway, not only was I going to be on TV, but this episode centered around Star Trek. I'm a huge geek, if you haven't noticed from my previous posts, and the only thing better than a Star Trek episode would be an episode on Dungeons & Dragons. Seriously, stop laughing. I spent the morning wondering if I was going to get Vulcan ears or Klingon nose wrinkles. I put on my most sci-fi shirt and a spacey-looking necklace, and off I went.
(Click here to see my interviews with the cast.)
I was taken to makeup, but as I had a red carpet to do right after, no appliances were glued to my head. (Since I used to be a makeup artist as well, it would have served me right. Hang around me for too long and you'll usually end up covered in glitter or with something glued to you. Just ask my friends.) I was given a "Beam me up Scotty" shirt to increase my dork level. Apparently it wasn't enough because I was then asked to wear a sparkly gold cape made of material that I'm sure does not exist in nature. I was escorted through the store, getting some very strange looks from customers along the way, to the exit where the scene was being filmed. They put me in a group of "Trekkies" with autograph books and pens.
So the premise of the episode is that the owner of "Greens & Grains," Leslie Pool (John Lehr), has decided to host a Star Trek convention at the store. Due to copyright issues, he can't use the name, so he changes it to Star Trok. In my scene, I, along with a large group of other Trekkies waiting to get in, figure that out and threaten a nerdy riot. Since the entire scene was improvised, we tried it a bunch of different ways. Next time you watch a crowd scene, give a round of silent applause to the extras. First of all, it was almost impossible not to crack up every time Yolanda (Roberta Valderrama) walked in in full Trek attire, screaming "Shut up nerds!" Trying to look like an angry Trekkie while having the time of your life? Also a bit difficult.
As an extra, you're asked to look as though you're speaking while not saying anything that stands out. Director Nancy Hower calls the group noise "wala". "We need a bit more wala," or "Angrier wala, please." Honestly, this is much harder than it sounds. At first, you try to quietly or silently (depending on the direction) make actual conversation. Things like, "What do you mean, Star TROK? Who do these Earthlings think they are? I've been waiting out here forever and I really need to buy a new phaser." Yeah, that works until the fourth take, when you feel like you're boring your fellow extras. Then you move on to phrases like, "It's really hot out here and my shiny plastic cape itches. How do you say hello in Klingon? Are you on Facebook? Finally, you cave, gesturing and saying "Wala wala. Wala wala? Wala wala wala wala." I stopped feeling stupid after the tenth time. We tried every permutation of the premise, the director shouting out new ideas and the actors coming up with some of the funniest lines I've ever heard. I have no idea what version they actually used and I'm dying to see it. My personal favorite? Leslie's line after he produces Star Trek hottie Jolene Blalock. "Live long and properly." (Just in case you're not a Trekkie, that's his non-copyrighted version of "Live long and prosper.")
We worked for hours on that one scene. They even continued filming after I left. I'm still in awe of their improv skills, and I'm totally addicted to the show now. I'm pretty sure the role won't exactly make me famous and you may only see the side of my face in the glare of my extra-fancy cape, but I hope you'll watch it all the same. Gosh, I can't imagine what else you'd be watching that day. Ahem.
I didn't get to keep the cape.
Follow Jenna Busch on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jennabusch