Terry Berlandby Casting Director, Terry Berland

What Do You Do If  Your Audition Partner Is Not As Good As You?

OK, I’ll say it…your partner sucked!

I will agree that it is not a good experience to audition with a partner you are not jelling with, or worse yet, your partner gave an inferior audition.  Although it was not a good experience, I can assure you, you can still be called back and booked even if your partner was really bad.

I can assure you the creatives are looking at you individually.  In fact, there are very few times both people are called back.  So the question is, how do you handle an unfortunate audition experience and keep your performance good?

The main rule is to keep true to your choices, which includes your energy and humor.  The following are some examples of what could occur and some solutions.

You know the scene calls for being bright and humorous.  Your partner has no humor and is generally dull.

Solution: Don’t dull yourself down.

Keep your brightness and humor and play off of the other person’s dullness.  In other words, in a humorous way, acknowledge in some way that your partner is not feeling the same way as you.  Never put the other person down, or create any conflict.

You are in an improv and your partner starts picking on you and is generally being aggressive towards you, or is always blocking the flow of your ideas by saying no to you.

Solution:  Let it roll off of your back.  Laugh it off.  When your partner keeps picking on you, the creatives will recognize that actor has a combative type personality and they will stay away from them, but be attracted to you.

Your partner is stiff and never looks at you.

Solution:  Acknowledge your partner, stay open, vulnerable and connected.  This is another situation where you can throw in some subtle humor acknowledging not being acknowledged by the other person.  In this way you have created a relationship even without the help of the other person. Your performance will shine and stand out.

In an improv your partner never stops talking and gives you no room to enter the conversation.

Solution:  Stick with it.  Don’t disappear.  Keep trying.  Here is another situation where you can throw in a quick humorous improv remark to get into the conversation and/or scene.  I promise you, you will shine and the other person will come off as an aggressive personality that the creative team would never want to hire.

Your partner physically blocks you and upstages you.

Solution: Position-wise the up-stage position technically lends to this particular challenge. Making no big deal about it, subtly move yourself either a little ahead, behind or beside the person who is blocking you.

You are in a group of three and the other two actors start improving away, leaving you out of the conversation.

Solution: Stay in there, don’t disappear.  Listen as long as you can being present in the scene.  Being a good listener takes great acting skills.  Keep trying to get into the conversation in a good-natured way.  You can again use some humor to acknowledge your being left out.

Another example is auditioning for a two-person radio spot.  The other person, in your opinion is making the wrong choices.

Solution:  Please recognize that most radio spots are funny and part of the formula that makes the writing funny is two conflicting, different personalities playing off of each other.  Analyze both characters, make your choice for your character and don’t lose yourself in the other character’s energy.  Stay true to your character’s energy and attitudes.

In all the examples, if something isn’t jelling, know that you can use the situation to your advantage by using humor.  Stay true to your choice and do not let the other person bring you down.  Stay present in the scene.  Never be combative; stay good-natured.

Walk out of your audition proud, and pat yourself on your back for doing a really great job.

Wow friends, it’s coming on to the end of the year.  I wish everyone Happy Holidays, health, joy and continued success.


Any reproduction or usage of this article on other websites must be credited to Terry Berland, Casting Director and linked back to here.

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Terry Berland is an award-winning casting director for on-camera, television, voice-over, and hosting. Her casting awards include Clio, The Houston International Film Festival, Art Director’s Club, Addy, and the International Film and Television Festival. Her former casting staff position for Madison Avenue giant BBDO/NY has lent to her deep understanding and involvement in the advertising industry. She is known throughout the country for her talent development and is the co-author of the how-to industry book,”Breaking Into Commercials.”