I have in the last few years become involved in theatre as an (unpaid) side hustle. It's been a fascinating insight into a whole different world.
I am about to pay a flying visit to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where there are hundreds of performances taking place all over town. I know that at some point I will see a play which includes a brilliant performance by an actor who I will never see or hear of again. There are over 40,000 equity members in the UK and 98% of them earn less than £20,000 a year. That’s some grim maths for you right there. Getting a role it turns out depends on so many things. Having the right agent, being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right people, and of course, how you look. Being a good actor is also useful.
Alexa Morden and Katie Elin-Salt are part of The 98% and this is the only podcast aside from Dad Wrote A Porno that makes me laugh out loud on the train. It's not a podcast about acting, it's more of a podcast about not acting. Imagine having a job where every week someone tells you, no, not you. The level of rejection is staggering.
As you listen you will begin to worry that by episode ten it will just be the two of them sitting around sobbing, and there’s a bit of that, but its mainly hilarious. As well as tales of crazy auditions, utterly bizarre treatment by the industry and the sheer hell of commercial casting (which sounds like an absolute nightmare) there is also a range of really good interviews, with a casting director, an agent, a director and Equity’s Industrial Organiser of Low and No Pay. Yes that’s a thing. It's also an episode very relevant for the broadcast industry. Think about that now, an organiser of NO Pay. There's also an episode about mental health which is laugh free but no less compelling and on the flip side a show where they just get hammered.
It's also another example of a podcast that isn't recorded in a soundproofed studio. In fact some of the sound quality in the early episodes is pretty poor but that doesn't detract from a genuinely funny show and proves again that content is king
A couple of questions begin to occur as you listen. We never get to see or hear them act, the thing that they are talking about all the time….so…..are they…..you know….any good? (I have seen one of them act and she was, I am convinced somehow they both are). Also what if ONE of them makes it big? What if in two years time one of them is cherry picking from piles of scripts and the other is still part of the 98%? What does the podcast sound like then? It might be that this is exactly the thing that propels them, a successful podcast, leading to other things. You don’t have to be an actor or even that interested in acting to enjoy this. There are genuinely funny stories, there is world class swearing from Katie and its one of the few podcasts that will make you laugh out loud on your travels.