5 Sh*t Jobs That Every Struggling Artist Has To Endure
How do you answer that endlessly awkward question: "what do you do?"
Image: James Penlidis
Claire Healy has never had a real job.
With a resume that looks like a list of highly questionable life choices, Claire Healy’s captivating new cabaret attempts to answer that endlessly awkward question: “What do you do?”
Here, we talk about 5 sh*t Jobs that every struggling Artist has to Endure.
The ‘I don’t have any qualifications, but being friendly’ job
What do you do when you’ve just got out of drama school, with an undergraduate degree in jazz hands, but no actual employable skills? Hospitality is often the answer. If you’re ever wondering who can make a double-shot-piccolo-ristretto and do an indestructible 3 plate carry; it is your friendly struggling artist. Other skills may include remembering long and complicated coffee orders for people who don’t know your name, and maintaining a friendly smile and refraining from murderous impulses when being called ‘good girl’ repeatedly.
The ‘I don’t have any qualifications but can bullsh*t very convincingly’ job
What is a performing arts degree, if not 3 years of learning how to pretend really, really convincingly? (Music Theatre graduates can also do this through song.) We’ve all had one of those jobs, where we wear a lanyard, look a bit professional and talk with great conviction on things we may not know anything about. When leading groups of international tourists on tours of Rod Laver Arena; I may not have always known everything about tennis, but I ALWAYS had a fun, surprising and… possibly true answer to any question.
The ‘why are you yelling at me?’ job
Every struggling artist has worked in customer service at one time or another. This often includes copping spontaneous anger attacks from people who need to let off some steam to a real person in a zero consequences environment to someone who has nothing to do with the underlying problem or the power to address their complaint. Pro tip: don’t yell at someone who can stop you getting a taxi ever again. And threatening to glass someone isn’t going to get you a 5 star Uber passenger rating.
The ‘Is it really worth it?’ job
Sometimes when you’re in an experimental, semi-devised, profit share independent theatre piece, and the director is keeping you after the official rehearsal end time with a bottle of wine in one hand and a bong in the other to direct you acting-weeping in a wooden box you think, ‘is this really worth it?’ (True story.) After the show, a friend came up to me and said ‘please, never invite me to one of these shows again.’ I agreed.
I know an actor who once got a cheque after a profit share show for 27 cents.
The ‘Sell-my-soul-for-cash’ job
It’s surprising how quickly morals go out the window when things get a bit desperate. When you’re trying to pay for that next tour, or interstate festival show, or …. the rent, you have to get that cash from somewhere. Sometimes that ‘somewhere’ is suppressing your vegetarian sensibilities while working in a hot chicken shop, cutting up dead chickens with a large pair of meat scissors. Always, you leave a little of your soul behind.
The ‘Yes, it’s really worth it’ job
Every once in a while, you look around and think, ‘this is exactly where I want to be.’ Teaching a ukulele lesson on a Greek island, seeing the face of an alzheimers patient as you sing them their favourite song that they’d forgotten until now, or looking out to an audience full of people who got totally on board the Aldi-themed-pirate-singalong I’d do it all again, 100%.
Armed with a killer voice, keyboard and ukulele, Claire bares her soul about the sacrifices an artist makes in employment security, stability and consistency at Wonderland Festival 29 November – 2 December.