Laugher

And there goes my last shred of dignity.

Since landing in LA, I’ve unloaded trucks, laid cable, pretended to be a caterer, and been paid to be part of a gameshow audience, but never did I feel dirty about my odd jobs, even when I left the set smelling like a two-day old ham that’d been left sitting under a heat lamp.

But now, this time, I feel dirty. For now I have been paid to be a “laugher.” This week I was given a nice wad of cash to sit in the audience of a test screening for a new movie — attended by important distributors — and pretend to have a good time. I was instructed to laugh “from the gut” and to applaud at the end. I won’t reveal which movie I saw, or which company contacted me, for fear of losing further gigs, but I will say that I was there for a very good reason: the movie wouldn’t have drawn many laughs otherwise.

I did have the fortune of being handed the wrong kind of ticket upon my entrance, so that some of the junior staffers working the screening were convinced I was a rep from Focus Features.

“Can I get you popcorn or anything, sir?” one asked me after I’d been seated, and shortly after an announcement that there would be an unexpected 15-minute delay. He looked like his name might be Chet.
“Nah, I’m good,” I said, my eyes darting around to see if he might be talking to someone else, before I gradually sussed out the misunderstanding. He tried to chat me up a bit, and I responded as monosyllabically as possible, fearing the embarrassment that would ensue if I were found out. Oh, it was awkward for me anyway, but not yet for this poor guy who thought I was important. He ended with, “Well, thanks for sticking around.” Anytime, Chet.

The real guy from Focus never showed, which is just as well, because there’s no earthly chance they’d be interested in this picture. I left with a phony smile plastered to my face, then went home and showered.

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One Response to “Laugher”

  1. stefanie Says:

    That is a funny story. I know what you mean. The feeling dirty for lying part. Well, I don’t know if laughing to get paid is actually “lying” but…you know what I mean. Keep writing this stuff. Real life is always better than fiction. Hope you’re having fun.

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