YouTube Sensation: Real Actors Read Yelp

Possibly, I’ve been living under a rock, but I just discovered the hilarious YouTube series “Real Actors Read Yelp,” the brainchild of Gotta Kid to Feed Productions.

Broadway thespians and television bit players provide heart-wrenching (and sometimes downright terrifying) enactments of real reviews from across the country. There’s everything from the Times Square Olive Garden (“The waitresses-slash-waiters smile, and seem … nice, but it feels like they’re doing it just to increase their tips.”) to Crazy Horse Gentleman’s Club (“I’ve never been impressed with the dancers. They either look like they just had a kid, or they’re obviously on drugs.”).

It’s hard to choose a favorite, but I’m partial to this disembowelment of a PF Chang’s, as performed by Tony Award-winner Greg Hildreth.

Mezz vs. orchestra: It’s the people around you

I settled into my seat at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in Manhattan on Saturday well in advance of the curtain’s rise. My wife and I were eager to see “God of Carnage,” which had received great reviews and featured a high-profile cast. For a change, we had seats in the mezzanine section – rather than our usual preference for orchestra. It wasn’t a big deal, and we were prepared to accept the greater distance from the stage. By the end of the show, however, we vowed never to sit in the mezzanine section again. The people around us made the difference.

I see it all the time, and I know I’m not alone. A busload of tourists stumbles onto the sidewalk and crowds around the theater‘s doors. Some push; others linger. Both fail to understand the concept of forming a line … or joining one that already exists. Or, a group of people who live a mere hour from the city spend six months planning their annual trip into the thrilling metropolis and can’t contain their excitement at being able to see an actual celebrity working. You are noticeable a mile away, and yes, you’re being judged.

So, if you are headed into Manhattan to enjoy a Broadway production, please heed the following advice. You’ll make the experience better for everyone. Most of it is common sense, but unfortunately, there are people out there who need a detailed list.

Don’t be loud; don’t linger
As I climbed the stairs, I was stuck in the middle of a crowd of nine people who made their annual trek from New Jersey into Manhattan to get a bit of “culcha [culture].” They screeched as they plodded about how they should be featured as the Real Housewives of New Jersey, poking each other about their respective shitty marriages. The conversation kept them from taking their seats efficiency, causing a logjam that stretched all the way back to the entrance. So, while we were treated to diatribes about their husbands, guests out of earshot were stuck in place without even knowing why.

Advice: Shut up, and get to your seat quickly. Talk when you’re settled in … and do so quietly.

Arrive on time
This seems as though it shouldn’t need to be said, and I’ve only rarely encountered it when sitting in the orchestra section. Yet, in mezzanine, it’s more common. A man arrived around five minutes after the production started, had trouble getting to his seat in the dark and tripped over my foot (okay, I’m not entirely innocent here). He was the punctual half, though. His companion arrived 15 minutes later and made an even bigger scene.

Advice: Do I have to spell it out? You know when the show starts: plan accordingly.

Don’t clap when the curtain comes up
Yes, when you see the likes of James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden on stage, it’s exciting. Your urge is to applaud, to slap your hands together as violently as possible. Meanwhile, what are James Gandolfini and Marcia Gay Harden doing? They’re talking! And, we can’t hear them! Let the actors perform. That’s why they are on the damned stage.

Advice: If you just want to see celebrities, hang around outside the theater and wait for them to arrive or depart. Otherwise, watch and listen. That’s the whole reason you spent $70 a ticket.

Don’t talk during the show … duh
Again, does this really need to be explained? For some reason, the people down in the orchestra section have figured out that the actors do the talking; the audience does the listening. In the mezzanine section, however, the actors do the primary talking, and the spectators provide a running commentary. Guess what? Everyone knows that James Gandolfini played Tony Soprano. They don’t need to be reminded. And, it’s no better when you complain about the nine New Jersey housewives in front of you who have been talking through the entire play. Are you really any better?

Advice: Shut your mouth, and remember that the only people who should be talking are (a) paid to do so and (b) told what to say.

That’s all it takes – four simple rules. I know it seems unwelcoming of me to dump all this on you, but if you exercised even a shred of common sense this article would be unnecessary.

Now, if you live in New York – or did at one time – here’s the best advice of all: sit in the orchestra section. At the risk of being called a New York snob (as my wife and New York snob friends have done already), you’ll have a better time if you join the other New York snobs who … guess what? … are there to enjoy the production.

CBS Pilot Alert – Drama at the CDC

Will Smith & Jada PinkettMmm… Where do I begin with this one – the facts or my own personal opinion? I’ll start with the facts as I stumbled upon over at EURweb. The celeb powerhouse couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, have had a few things up their sleeve since last July when Jada hinted at a new project she had been pitching to networks with her hubby Will Smith at the Television Critics Association Press Conference in Pasadena. In order to keep the project from being jinxed she declined to elaborate, but now the word is out and spreading like Mad Cow, Avian Flu and a bad batch of spinach. According to EUR: “It’s been confirmed that CBS has given a put pilot commitment to the project, which hails from CBS Paramount Network TV and Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment.” The untitled drama (Jada’s creation) will follow doctors at the Center for Disease Control, who fight viruses that threaten people globally.

Time for my two cents! Personally, I think it sounds fascinating and I can’t wait to see who they’ll cast for our virus fighting Docs, but it frightens me at the same time. I can just imagine episode #18 where a young couple comes back from a backpacking vacation in China and one falls ill with the world’s deadliest case of Avian Flu. Or episode #43 where a group of missionaries at an orphanage in Namibia contract Malaria after being given the wrong prescription back in the states… The scenarios are endless and while the CDC isn’t just about travel and disease, I tend only to scope it out when I’m heading somewhere far, foreign, and possibly flooded by disease. I’d hope none of the episodes sway anyone from traveling abroad, but let’s face it – people suck that stuff in. Someone out there isn’t going to want to go travel and explore ‘X’ destination because of ‘X’ disease related drama seen on primetime television. It happens. Television warps the mind, but I am very interested in seeing this when it debuts.

So with all that being said has something you ever seen on the tube (news or movies) ever kept you or changed your mind about traveling someplace? If so, give me the full details and just so it’s fair I’ll share a secret of my own. When I saw Boys Don’t Cry with Hilary Swank it made me never wish to go to Nebraska. Not that I’m a woman posing as a man, but it sort of gave me this negative idea that people aren’t nice there.

That’s my story what’s yours?