Not listening, not taking direction, over-acting. You’re on a camera, everything has to be tiny. You can’t act, you have to just be. People want to act, and I get it – you’re an actor, you want to act – but it just doesn’t work for camera. I can’t take time to work with them, though. “Thank you. Next.” You have three minutes with each actor to put on camera. So my thought is, if you don’t have commercial training, please don’t go out on commercial auditions. It seems ridiculous, like, “How hard can it be to do a commercial?” But it’s a skill. You’re reading a cue card, while trying to relate to the camera, and you have 30 seconds to come across. Don’t think that because you have an MFA from Yale that you can come in and do a commercial. You might not be able to. It’s a skill you need to learn. It’s fast, you have to be prepared, you have to be confident, you have to listen, it is not easy at all.
The more I do video stuff (like Vooza), the more interested I get in the differences between what's funny on camera vs. what's funny on stage. The camera magnifies everything. A subtle look or reaction can make a bit fly onscreen but would get lost onstage. And the hard push you need to sell a bit during standup can come across as desperate when filmed.
Oh, and here's a related recent tweet:
Comedy is made up of people who constantly mock commercials yet are dying to be in one.— Matt Ruby (@mattruby) May 16, 2013