What Actors Should Probably Know About Network Screen Testing by Jonathan Mangum

Film Courage: What is the most nervous you’ve been as a performer?

Jonathan Mangum, Actor/Comedian/Announcer for Let’s Make a DealThe most nervous? I screen tested for Saturday Night Live and there were five of us. They fly you to New York, you get up on stage and I knew they were going to tape me but I didn’t realize they were going to tape me with the actual cameras, the big cameras. I mean it wasn’t like a little video camera thing. The camera dude was there with the camera. You are on the monologue stage and at the table was Tina Fey and Lorne Michaels and two or three other people and that was SO nerve-racking because there are only five people watching you. Even if what you’re doing is hilarious and they’re laughing, it’s not going to sound like a wall of laughter.

And that year it was Fred Armisen, Will Forte, my good friend Jeff Davis and another guy I kind of knew. All five of us were going up the elevator saying:

Hey man, good luck to you!

Good luck to you!

And we were all in the same boat together. We went in and did our audition which I thought it did pretty well. We are walking out and all of us are getting into the elevator and we were:

Oh, you guys want to go get a drink? That was crazy, that was scary. You guys want to go get a drink?

And right as the doors are closing someone’s hand goes:

Fred, can you come with us?

And we were like

Argh! Couldn’t you have waited for tomorrow to tell him he got it so we could all bond and have a good time?

That was super scary but also I think I mentioned earlier it’s not about who is best. It’s about what they need at the time. Did they need a six foot two white guy at the time? It’s all about what fits into the cast at that moment so I feel better about that now but afterwards I was like

Oh, I must have been terrible.

But I wasn’t.

Film Courage: Was that another lesson on not getting your hopes up to much? When you get an opportunity like that I’m sure you’re super excited?

Jonathan: The problem with screen-testing for anything in this town and getting your hopes up is you have to sign the contract before you test. So you have to sign a piece of paper that shows you…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).



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Jonathan Mangum was born in Charleston, S.C., but spent most of his youth in Mobile, Alabama. He attended college in Orlando, FL. where he began performing with SAK Theatre’s TheatreSports, a wildly successful local improv show. While performing 13 shows each week and attending college, Jonathan began to work with a tight-knit group of improvisers that included Wayne Brady. While in Orlando, Jonathan appeared on such shows as Clarissa Explains it All, Welcome Freshman,Fortune Hunter, and Seaquest DSV. Soon after, Mangum moved to Los Angeles, where he was joined by his Orlando improv troupe later called, The Houseful of Honkeys. The “Honkeys” performed their critically acclaimed improv game show, You Bet Your Honkey at the ACME Theatre for nearly five years and went on to shoot several television pilots for ABC…(Read more about Jonathan here via his website).


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