Four of the original ten girls remain in the competition to become “The Starlet”. Last week, Lauren was sent home and her rival Katie had the last laugh. This week, Cecile, Katie, Mercedes and Michelynne are tested on their comedic skills – who will leave them laughing and who will just leave?
Laugh Until You Cry
The ladies head off to acting class where Host Katie introduces them to their coach, Michelle Danner. Michelle has them perform a series of exercises, beginning with a scripted scene with a partner. To help them feel like comediennes (or morons), the girls wear oversized clown shoes and noses. It seems to work for Katie and Michelynne who are both perky and lighthearted in their performance. Not so for the next two. Cecile and Mercedes perform next, and while Cecile does a fair job trying pick up the comedic beat of the scene, Mercedes is weighted down by inability to let loose and risk looking silly. She drags down the energy of the scene and it isn’t funny at all.
As Michelle takes the girls through several other improvisational exercises, Mercedes becomes more and more uptight and unable to perform. When the coach calls her out on her insecurity, Mercedes completely shuts down as she stares at the floor and tries not to cry. She plops down in her chair and is clearly not in the running for the best in class award.
Host Katie returns and Michelle announces that the girl who was the best in class is Michelynne. Woohoo! (No prejudice here.) She has won the right to stay in the Diva Suite, as is always the case, and in addition, she will have a private dinner with Luke Greenfield, director of such film classics as The Animal and The Girl Next Door. Everyone is jealous, of course, and the girls hear about their next assignment. For the next screen test, the girls will work in pairs and perform a scene from the hit television show, Friends, playing the roles of Phoebe and Monica. What is different about this task is that they will be performing live in front of an audience at The Comedy Store.
Dinner and a Schmooze
Michelynne leaves for her dinner date, wearing a little black dress. She meets Luke Greenfield someplace where there is a nice table set up outside for them. He seems instantly smitten with her and she is her naturally charming self with him. They talk openly and exchange some laughs as he gives her advice and they get to know each other. The dinner seems very comfortable for both of them and they promise to keep in touch. Michelynne is jubilant in her post-reward confessional, joking that tomorrow she’ll have a movie deal. I suddenly remember that The Animal is the film where Colleen from Survivor made her big screen debut, so I guess anything is possible.
When she returns to the house, you could cut the tension with a knife. While she has been gone, Cecile and Katie have argued endlessly over which one of them will get to play Rachel in their scene. It seems that neither of them want to play Phoebe, which is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. They are being tested on their comedic acting and yet they don’t want to choose the zanier, funnier of the two characters. Whatever. Maybe they thought if they played Rachel, they’d get to sleep with Brad Pitt, I don’t know.
Katie finally gives in to Cecile and agrees to play Phoebe. They spend a bit of time rehearsing and working on their own, and you can see that Katie is trying hard to make it work between them, while Cecile is consumed with her dislike for Katie and doesn’t want to make an effort. She goes into the bedroom and complains to Mercedes that Katie is horrible and she knew she should have played Phoebe, but chose Rachel because she thought it was safe. She decides to ask Katie to switch roles. Katie doesn’t take kindly to this suggestion, and who can blame her? She has already put a lot of time into working on her part and stands her ground firmly against Cecile, refusing to switch.
Save the Drama for Your Mama
The next morning, Michelle Danner comes to the house to work with the girls on their scenes. During their rehearsal, Katie continues to put efforts into trying to help Cecile, knowing that it helps both of them if their partner is good in the scene. When it is time for Mercedes and Michelynne to rehearse, Mercedes visibly clenches up. It is apparent that she does not care for the coach and is rebelling against taking any direction from her. Mercedes explains to Michelle that she can’t understand what she is telling her, but that she could better understand it coming from someone else. Basically, what she means is, “I hate you, don’t talk to me, beyotch.” Michelynne shows that she has more drive than drama (and I mean that in a good way), making the point that they only have 40 minutes, so they should concentrate on their scene rather on their communication technique. Mercedes is insulted that Michelynne opts not to coddle her, but Michelynee wisely points out that they don’t have time to “get into” something right then.
That’s What Friends Aren’t For
Its showtime at The Comedy Store, and the starlets-in-training walk out onto a stage in front of a decent-sized audience. After Host Katie has introduced them, a curtain rises to reveal that the panel of judges is also in the room and will be judging them. The girls confess how nervous they are, but know that it is important to have fun in order to be successful in comedy.
Mercedes and Michelynne are up first, followed by Cecile and Katie. No one does a spectacular job, in my opinion, but they get a few laughs and no one seems to forget their lines. Mercedes takes herself a little too seriously, even though her delivery is pretty good. Michelynne deadpans well and gets laughs, but seems detached when she is not delivering a line, as if she doesn’t know where to look. Katie is sort of funny, but wallows in her coffee cup and throws in an ad-libbed impersonation of Joey. Cecile is overly dramatic and talks loudly into the audience. She seems very nervous and refuses to look at Katie for more than a second when talking to her. Their scene might have really worked if Rachel is supposed to hate Phoebe.
Michelynne is first to go before the panel for her critique. She is told by Joseph that while she is young, green, emotional, and sometimes a mess, they were shocked to see how funny she is. All three of the judges agree, praising her performance and she is very happy.
Mercedes goes in next, Joseph tells her that comedy is hard – and she made it look hard. Faye says she did not show confidence and appeared to have given up. Vivica says that she was still good, but it was thanks to having a good partner in Michelynne.
Katie is somewhat chastised by Vivica for ad-libbing, since they are looking for someone that can follow a script. However, she is lucky that the ad-lib worked and it was one of the funnier moments in the scene. Joseph says that he keeps wanting to defend her, but finds that she is only there because there is always someone less talented than her. Faye says she is conflicted about Katie, but that she did not understand what she was trying to do in the scene.
Cecile is last to appear before the panel. Faye says, “Rachel and Phoebe called – they want their couch back.” Ouch! She continues to tell Cecile that she is let down because she knows she has so much more to offer. She found that Cecile didn’t connect at all with Katie and didn’t share with her scene partner. Vivica tells Cecile that it is okay to play to the audience a little to deliver the jokes. Faye loudly voices her disagreement, indicating that she didn’t like Cecile talking to the audience instead of to Katie. Vivica commends Cecile for showing courage after the harsh critique from last time, but Joseph admits he has to agree with Faye on this one.
Maybe Next Time
The ladies come back as a group and stand before the judges to hear their decision…
Joseph states that he’d like to send two women home tonight, but that one will have a chance to prove him wrong. Vivica says that it was tonight’s performance that took this girl out of the running. Faye says that while this girl definitely has star quality, she is not bringing it to the scenes and doesn’t have the acting ability – yet. Cecile, …don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Cecile seems to know that it was her turn to go and gracefully thanks the panel for the opportunity and for all she has learned. She is proud to have had the chance and the amazing ride. She exchanges teary hugs with all of the girls, and leaves the stage as Vivica tells her she is a class act. In her goodbye confessional, she once again demonstrates her natural flair for the dramatic as she promises to keep following her passion. If she can learn to keep her personal drama out of her acting and work well with those she dislikes as well as her buddies, I think she could have a fair chance in this business.
Next week: The final three girls have one last screen test and one of them becomes The Starlet.
Phoebe or Rachel, Rachel or Phoebe? Send me your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org