There are many types of television programming and each type has its own set of audition rules.  It is important to understand the genre you are auditioning for and to be able to adapt yourself to each situation you find yourself in.  Nothing beats a little preparation, and knowing what to expect before you show up can help you prepare for a part.

Styles of AuditionsUnfortunately, not all casting directors have or are willing to spend the time to give you pointers on how to audition well for a particular part or how you can improve your performance, so it is important to get as much information beforehand so you can know what to expect and show up to the audition prepared and at your best.  The following are descriptions of the kinds of programming you may find yourself auditioning for and tips on what to expect and how to perform well.

Multiple-camera sitcoms

Multiple-camera sitcoms (think Cheersor Friends) rehearse for five days before shooting in front of a live audience.  For this type of production the director blocks the show.  Actors are given specific movements to do, words to say, and places to stand.  Writers and producers constantly analyze the script and may change it nightly to make it flow better.  Because of this, you should be prepared to change what you are doing at a moment’s notice.  The lines you spend all night trying to memorize may change the next day and you must be willing to change as well with a pleasant and willing attitude.

This is not the time or the place to paraphrase or change your lines.  The writers/producers have everything the way it is for a reason.  Multiple-camera sitcoms are all about rhythm and timing, and you are expected to be witty and funny while delivering in a specific rhythm with other actors all while making it all look natural.   It goes without saying that a good audition requires excellent timing and precision on the part of the actor.  It’s all about working well with other actors to make something that is precise and well planned look spontaneous and surprising.

One-camera comedies

One-camera comedies (think Scrubsor The Office) are shot in five days but are usually done so out of sequence.  Days are long and there is little or no time for rehearsal.  You must be able to concentrate on what you are doing with out needing too much direction or personal attention from the director, who is busy worrying about a hundred other things.

Because there is little feedback from the director, you should be able to keep self-doubt from harming your performance.  If you easily get caught up in a cycle of wondering how well you are doing or whether or not the director likes you, then you will find that it will have a negative effect on your concentration, which, in turn, will have a negative impact on your performance.  One-camera comedies are also not the place to ask a lot of questions.  The crew is busy with other things and so it is best to do your job and keep out of the way.

One-camera comedies differ from multi-camera sitcoms in the style of acting required.  It’s less about witty repartee and more about being funny in a subtle, idiosyncratic way.  You can be funny just by the look you give in reaction to something someone else has just said or by the special presence you bring with you into the room.  These types of scenes are hard to do well.

Hour-long dramas

Hour-long dramas (think HouseorCSI) are shot in eight days and do not take off weeks during the shooting season like sitcoms do.  Hour-long dramas are shot like movies, and much more detail is given to set design, lighting, and camera angles.  If you are on the crew of an hour-long drama you should expect long days with little or no rest.

You will seldom have the time to spend with friends or family during the shooting season and hour-long dramas are known as golden handcuffs because you are given little freedom and expected to eat, drink, and sleep the show but you are generally paid a lot of money if you are the lead.

To do well in drama, you must be able to take your time and let the emotions come out not as much through your words but through your face and your eyes.  You must be willing and able to go into those dark and personal places required by the type of character you are portraying and to do so without censure.  For this reason, it is important that you be able to separate yourself from your role when off camera.

Sketch comedy

Acting on a sketch comedy (think Saturday Night Liveor Mad TV) requires a different set of skills than acting in the other genres.  Whereas on a multiple-camera sitcom you must be able to memorize a precise place to stand and a precise line to say, on a sketch comedy you are expected to be free, outrageous, and spontaneous.

To do well on a sketch comedy your improve skills have to be exceptional.  You can no longer rely on memorizing your lines and timing to get the job done.  You have to be able to think quickly on your feet and to know just what to say and when to say it in order to achieve the best comedic effect.

Soap operas

Soap operas allow actors to develop a character over a long period of time.  They offer contract work and if you are young, good looking, and can act well, you will have a solid chance of making it as a soap opera actor.

Conclusion

In conclusion, in order to audition well for a part and ultimately act well as a role in a particular part, you should familiarize yourself with the genre of the program you are auditioning for.  Preparing a role for a sketch comedy is different than preparing yourself for a role on a multi-camera sitcom. Know your strengths and use them to help you land a part.  If you are a fast thinker and can come up with funny things to say on the spot, then perhaps sketch comedies are more your thing.

You might enjoy it more than the constraints of a multi-camera sitcom where you are expected to do everything exactly as the writers/producers have written them to be done.  It is also important to be self-confident and self-reliant at a time when you are expected to perform with little to no direction from the director and crew.

Everything must flow seamlessly and within a tight schedule, so you are expected to show up well prepared and ready to go.  No matter what genre you audition for, remember to have fun and let your talents help you land the part.  Good luck!