Bringing Down The House with Actor Jared Houseman

Aussie actor Jared Houseman gives us the scoop about working his craft in the NY, his favourite Brooklyn cafés and some of his joys of living in the city: “You’re not really living in New York if you haven’t encountered the smell of urine at least once throughout the day!”

How did you find yourself in New York?

I moved here the Thanksgiving weekend of 2007 to continue working and training as an actor – I knew this city would be replete with opportunities to do that. Plus it’s New York City. Who needs a reason?

Any favorite neighborhood spots you fancy sharing?

I have lived in Williamsburg for three glorious plaid-wearing years. My favorite spots in the hood include Norman’s Kil – a new whiskey bar, dangerously close to my apartment. Union Pool is great on a weeknight. And I dig the food at Fatty Cue, Rye and Five Leaves. The list goes on. Yes, there is a list. A long list.

It sounds like you’re not quite the starving actor…

I love finding new cafes/restaurants/food trucks/holes in the wall. Most of my social life in NY is centered on food. I figure now is the time to eat like a pig, get as much in before age and a slowing metabolism gets the best of me. I look into my future and I see obesity (the joyful kind).

What was it like performing a play on a subway platform in A Mysterious Way?

It was kind of exhilarating because we were forced to improvise around all the different interruptive elements like passing trains, station announcements, and shitty teenagers.
Were there any particularly hairy moments?
(Spoiler alert) The show ends with my character being choked to death by the other character. One day we arrived at the platform to do the show and some drunk was urinating in the exact spot I was meant to fall down dead. Our producer was like “It’ll be dry by the time you fall”, but I wasn’t having a bar of it. Suffice to say the show was bumped about twenty feet further down the platform. Funny thing is this didn’t seem so shocking at the time – you’re not really living in New York if you haven’t encountered the smell of urine at least once throughout the day.

What do you miss most about Australia?

I miss my family, especially my little nephews. And the beach. God, I miss the beach.

What have been some of the plays you’ve worked on in NY?

Fourteen Flights SoHo Playhouse, NY Fringe Festival, NY
Counterpoint AfterHours Bowery Electric, NY
Art Of Attack La Mama, NY Fringe Festival, NY
Mannequin’s Ball Elebash Recital Hall, NY
Port Authority Public Theater’s EWG Shorts, NY
Emily The Kirk Theater, Theater Row NY
Alphabet City VI Metropolitan Playhouse, NY
A Mysterious Way Firebone Theater, NY
The Woman Riverside Theater, NY
Uncle Vanya The Space, NY
Alphabet City V Metropolitan Playhouse, NY
The Tamer Tamed Turtle Shell Theater NY
Chekhov Reading Series New School Theater, NY
Winner “Overall Excellence In Performance By An Actor”, New York Fringe Festival, USA, 2010 (Actor).
Winner ‘Best Foreign Film’, Kentucky Bluegrass Independent Film Festival, USA (Actor, Writer, Director).

Favourite coffee shop?

My newest top coffee spot is Toby’s Estate (no patriotic bias). It’s a damn good, well made coffee. Shortly followed by Gimme Coffee (my local), shortly followed by Abraco on 7th st in the East Village. When I finished high school I got a job as a barista in a fancy restaurant to save money to travel. The guy who managed the joint was a real coffee Nazi. I’d make a cappuccino in the thick of a busy period and this sonovabitch would come in and dip his pinkie in it, “too hot, you burned the milk” or “too cold” he’d sneer. Even if it was just right I’d have to make a fresh batch because he’d have dipped his filthy fingers in them. Suffice to say I’m quite particular about my coffee nowadays. That was one of two things he taught me. The other was to hate authority.

The main problem with American coffee?

The cups are too big. The natural inclination for anyone making a coffee is too fill up the cup, but if the cup is too big you end up with a very disproportionate milk to coffee ratio – it become coffee flavored milk. And they often burn the milk. Someone needs to be standing there dipping their finger in the milk to tell them that…. Did I really just say that? What a wanker.

Well Jared, it’s been swell talking to you. Can you leave us with a pearl of wisdom about living in NYC?

There is at least one extraordinary thing that happens to you, or right in front you every single day you live in this city – make sure you stop and smell the (concrete) roses. Life here can be kind of wonderful if you let it be.

Interview by Kate Williams.

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