So you’re looking for talent? Start here.

Every once in a while, networks announce that they’re forming new sketch shows. To find talent, they’ll scour the country looking for brilliant performers.
I’m going to help them out with their homework, and they don’t even have to pay me to this time. Here are a few of my personal recommendations of who you should be looking at.

Adam & Danielle; young and talented

If there are two performers that scream to networks “you should hire them now”, as a power couple, they are Adam Cole and Danielle Wheeler.

Adam Cole

Adam Cole

Adam Cole’s roots start in standup, but he has that soulful look that allows him to get away with saying bad things.
Sure he’s pretty.
I mean, he’s very very pretty.
God I love his eyes.
What was i saying?  Oh yeah… With a firm background in the Annoyance Theater in Chicago, he genuinely understands comedy. He has the best balance between someone who is passionate about his work without taking himself too seriously.



When you see a woman as drop dead gorgeous as Danielle Wheeler (She’s on my business card, y’all.  That’s how gorgeous she is… she made me say “y’all”), you don’t expect them to be funny. Because in order to be funny, you have to allow yourself to be ugly and be the clown. Danielle never shies away from either and will do anything for a laugh.
She is a woman without pretension – with all humility – and she’s just darned nice. I’m willing to bet she owns a kitten, and that its named something cute.
With roots in Second City’s Training Center, she performed in the same sketch show in Chicago for years before moving to New York.

Paul Thomas; a writer who never stops

I knew that I was in a special place when I was in conservatory at Second City with Paul Thomas.  It wasn’t just that he was continually writing, but that he thought about every aspect of a scene.
He wrote this gorgeous scene, post 9/11, about how the terms of football had changed. That announcers could no longer use the phrase “throw the bomb”.  After explaining to me (the desk anchor) which terms were thrown out, and which terms replaced them (“ride the pony”), his sports announcer recounted the day’s game using the new terms that we just learned.
In one reoccurring sketch, Paul was allowed to improvise a different non-sequitur every time. The rest of us would watch a monitor backstage, just to see what line he would use to break his scene partners.

If I were the head of a sketch television show, I would hire Paul without asking him for a spec script.  He is, in my opinion, the most underused writer in Chicago.

Anthony Oberbeck; beyond ordinary

Anthony Oberbeck

Anthony Oberbeck

I once read about a famous comedian, that he was the guy that the other comedians would gather around to watch.
Meet Anthony Oberbeck.
When Anthony puts together a sketch show, he’s the one that I’m leaning forward to take mental notes on. In comedy, its the best thing in the world when someone surprises you. Anthony always surprise me.  Think I’m going to tell you how?  No, because, you know, surprise.

Susan Messing; has shit out more talent in her life than LA, combined

No, I don’t want to get into a pillow fight over how great the talent in LA truly is. Not while you’re wearing that neon top.
All I’m saying is that its mind-numbing that we have a performer that so many people on all coasts combined would agree is one of the very best, and she hasn’t been tapped to create a show, much less star in one.  Its kinda like finding out that this guy named Tiger Woods has been playing golf in your back yard, and no one has offered to let him play in your tourney.  Or its like finding out that this kid named Van Halen has been playing on a street corner, but no bands have invited him to play.  (Okay… bad example.  I’d get why no lead singer would want to play with Van Halen right now.)
My point is that at some point in time, you might be the network executive chomping on your cigar (and/or legalized pot brownie) telling your network-executive-friends about how brilliant you were, and how you bought that new G600 Gulfstream because Susan Messing’s show was picked up for a fifth season.
But right now, you aren’t.  Because you aren’t asking why 95% of the female improvisers in Chicago want to be Susan Messing, or why 95% of the male improvisers cried while listening to Morrissey when she remarried.

Is this all of the amazing talent that you’ll find in Chicago?  Not even close.  But start here.  I’ll have more for you shortly.

William Beers Entry into Worst Headshot Contest

Yep, I’m a performer.  But its worth noting that I went to school for photography, and I received my Bachelor Of Arts is in Photography.

From William Beers

I decided to go with a photographer who is a fellow Actor. She did these shots for me…

Shannon’s entry

From Shannon…

I have several bad photos I have sent in where many times I have been told that the photos not only do not reflect who I am, but don’t reflect me as well as in person!

This is actually a pretty common complaint, one that I’ve heard a lot from clients who were shot by someone else.  Sometimes, people get glammed up too much.  Or, worse yet, the photographer shoots them the same way that they would shoot anyone else.  And naturally, the image just doesn’t have the right feel.

If you want to read more about this, go read my article for Second City on “6 Ways to Fuck Up Your Headshots“, or just read my blog on 7 things you should know before getting your headshot.

Please vote.  And if you know of someone who desperately needs a headshot, please send them here.

Second Worst Headshot contest, first entries…

I already have a few entries into the (2nd) Worst headshot contest!

Click on VOTE to vote.
Reminder; only vote once, blah, blah, blah, I can tell if you’re cheating.

From Jake:

So, I had just moved out to the big city and already had my first audition lined up. The only problem was that I did not have a headshot and was at the time much too poor to afford a good one! An acquaintance of mine is a photographer and had taken headshots for some my friends. He offered to take mine for free, but he was only available for 30 minutes on one evening at his apartment.

From Colton:

No story really. Just a very terrible and awkward picture

From Akilah:

I got this done at a mall. There was a makeup counter there offering free make-up makeovers and you could have a mini photoshoot. I think this was my senior year in high school.

Again, the point of this is that these stories are universal.  We’ve all done it.  Fuck… I’m embarrassed to say that I once shot a photo the day before an audition, because I realized that the photo that I had didn’t reflect me anymore.  So I set up my camera and spent an hour taking self portraits.

How to avoid this?  Get pictures taken before you need them. Honest.

The SECOND Worst Headshot Contest

[The first entries are already in]

A while back, a friend of mine gave me a great idea; hold a “worst” headshot contest.  Enlist performers to share the worst images that they’ve ever used at an audition along with their stories.  Then have people vote, and see what happens.  So I did.

And the result was amazing.

A performer named Richard Esteras came through with 181 votes.  We met, shot some great pictures of him, and he posted a few of his favorites to Facebook…. where he got noticed.  Since then, Richard has gone on to perform in almost a dozen independent movies.

Richard Esteras, understated

Richard Esteras, from our shoot

Now I need to point the obvious out: Just because I shoot you, it doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically end up getting cast in a dozen films.  However, I think that my track record of the past year is pretty darned good. A lot of people that I’ve shot have gotten noticed.

You still have to do the work. But it all starts with a great headshot.  So lets start a new contest. Send in any photo that you’ve used on an audition, or your worst headshot, and I’ll post it in the gallery.  Is there a story behind it that you’re willing to share?  Send me the story too.
I’ll post your picture within 24 hours.  Voting is ongoing.  At the end of February 2015, at midnight CST, the person with the most votes wins a free headshot session.

Its that simple.
Oh… and if you don’t win? I’ll send you a coupon for $75 off of the normal price of a headshot with me.

Not convinced yet? If you have your headshot taken by me before the end of February, pay me, and then get the most votes on your old headshot?  You not only get your money back, but you’ll get a small gift from me.  Cause that’s how I roll.

So show me how bad headshots can be.
(As if I haven’t seen already.)

99 Problemz, but CIF Isn’t One


Catharine Savage

As you might have guessed, I’m particularly happy whenever someone I shoot has a success story.

Like when Richard was discovered by an independent film company by putting his headshot in his Facebook feed. He went on to shoot almost a dozen independent and student films over the past year.

Or The Katydids, who are now producing the television series Teachers for TV Land.

Or Lou Leonardo, who just happened to book a little thing known as a Super Bowl commercial.


Kimberley Michelle Vaughn

Well, two people that I photographed over the past year, Kimberly Michelle Vaughn, and Catharine Savage, are in an improvised sitcom called 99 Problemz.  Their show has just been picked up by the Chicago Improv Festival this year.

Congratulations!  I’ll see you at CIF!