The Playgoer: Day Jobs for the 21st Century

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day Jobs for the 21st Century

Forget waiting tables. I got one word for you about the actor's day job of the future.

Bedbugs.

Ever since the city began suffering from a widespread infestation of the pernicious bugs last year, demand has soared for people to get rid of them. Actors, it turns out, make the perfect bug busters.

"Actors have great personalities and follow directions well," says Janet Friedman, owner of Bed Bug Busters NY, who employs many people from the theater world to clean up the vermin. She favors entertainers, she says, because they can improvise, work quickly and are used to the drama of a stressful situation. 
There's a joke somewhere here about agents, but I'll spare you...

Actually, the piece surveys the overall trends and changes in how New York actors make their real living in this day and age:
To be sure, bedbug hunting is not the main alternative career for New York's unemployed actors. Some are tour-bus guides, and others are seasonal greeters at Tiffany & Co., according to the Actors Fund Work Program, a New York-based nonprofit that helps entertainment industry professionals land supplemental gigs.This summer, some actors worked for the Census Bureau, and some posed as would-be renters or buyers for the nonprofit Fair Housing Justice Center, to ensure that federal, state and local laws are followed. The most common jobs for struggling entertainers in New York remain temporary administrative work, catering and waiting tables. But "because of the economy, catering and waiter work has been way down," says Kathy Schrier, director of the Actors Fund Work Program.
Any other suggestions (or crazy anecdotes) about good jobs for actors?  Or bad ones?

4 comments:

Swollen Foot said...

Hahha, this is hilarious! I thought the only way to get rid of bed bugs was to burn your mattress, or buy a new one... is there in fact some stressful technique that only actors can perform?!

I think actors would make fantastic psychologists/counsellors! We do so much character analysis we can surely recognise any emotional problem and sympathise with it!

http://swollenfoottheatre.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Of course, Swollen Foot, having named yourself after the original hero complex you'd consider therapy as a career. Reality check: three years minimum for your masters (could set you back $90K +); another three years for your internship when you will earn very little and work long hours; two years full-time to establish a private practice which, if you were good, lucky and in the right niche, might afford the flexibility you'd need to rehearse and perform. Exterminator's a better choice.

Swollen Foot said...

Hi Anonymous! I wasn't actually thinking as seriously about it as you, nor was I thinking about the practicalities of an actor actually becoming a counsellor or a psychologist... I was just thinking of the skills of the two jobs. I took the original post as light-hearted and I matched that in my comment! What do you think is a good job, apart from exterminator?

JBranch said...

I've always thought actors should make good salespeople, for reasons similar to why they make good waiters: either job goes better if you can adopt a friendly persona and can sell yourself first. But for some reason I've never seen anyone try it (that I can recall).

Incidentally, one of my friends earned a graduate-level acting degree (from SMU at the time people like Kathy Bates were in the same program), found he was better at theater administration than acting, and later found he was even better at counseling and, currently, executive coaching. Swollen Foot had a good idea.