Alumni Magazine

FAL-WIN 2016

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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Page 39 of 83

2,929 miles from Rindge to Los An- geles, nearly 3,000 miles of highway that runs from the graceful Mount Monadnock, through remnants of the Rust Belt, on across the high plains, and finally, to the palm tree- laden, sunlight-strewn streets of Tinseltown. Twenty-four years ago, Jason Lassen set out on that jour- ney. He's never looked back. "I was so excited!" says Lassen '92 of his westward trek. "It was almost this delusional sense of optimism. It's gonna be so easy. We're going to take Hollywood by storm!" Lassen and fellow Franklin Pierce alumnus John Perry '92, who majored in Mass Communication along with Lassen, had interviewed for jobs as pages at Paramount right after graduation. In June, they got word that they had been hired. "I think that call came on a Fri- day," says Lassen. "By Monday, we were in the car." It should have been a trip that took a week or more, perhaps with a little bit of sightseeing. "Then, on maybe the first or second day of this drive, we heard a DJ talking about how they were having tryouts that weekend in Los Angeles for In Living Color," recalls Perry, who is now the senior supervising producer at The Dr. Phil Show. "Jason put the pedal to the metal and we saw the sun come up over the Grand Canyon." "We rolled into L.A. at 9 a.m. and stayed at my uncle's house in El Monte," elaborates Lassen, who minored in Theatre. "I was in line at nine o'clock the next morning." Perry remembers Lassen standing in line outside the Fox Theatre to audi- tion, and that he locked the keys in the car while waiting for his pal to return. "We were so young," he says, laughing. Lassen says that at about noon that day, someone came out to send a bunch of people after a certain point in the endless line to go home. He was one of them. Jim Carey would get the In Living Color part. Lassen and Per- ry? They had their gigs as pages. They moved in with other Pierce alumni, shared a car, and picked up as many extra shifts as they could. So what if Hollywood was – and is – a tough place to make a living? Optimism and work ethic go a long way. A Little Ambition Makes A Big Difference "I wanted to do every job I could at a studio," says Lassen, who loved act- ing as much – if not more – than he loved being behind the scenes. "So when I heard there was a job in the mailroom, I went after it." Lassen had a vague idea that he might make that Hollywood cliché of starting out in the mailroom and ending up on the big screen come true. Instead, what he discovered was some- thing more valuable: "When you work in the mailroom, you know what's go- ing on all over the lot. You meet people. You learn how things work." Lassen's affability and ability to network allowed him to take on any number of positions in Los Angeles. His resume boasts acting in commer- cials and films, modeling for ads and serving as a production assistant for programs such as Ellen, Temptation Island, and Joe Millionaire, among others. He was the post-production coordinator for Robot Chicken's season one DVD release, and served as an associate producer and produc- tion coordinator for the 1994 World Cup. And then there was that gig as a birthday party clown, which, it turned out, changed Lassen's life. Clowning Around "I guess it was 1995," he remembers. "All these things happened over a span of a few months. I was a page at CBS and I got another mailroom job. My three-and-a-half-year-old nephew died, my roommate killed himself. I was tired of the seasons not changing. I felt like this wasn't what I signed up for. I wanted to go home." When he talked to his mother about packing it in, she expressed her support and told him she and Lassen's father would certainly love to have him home, but she said to him, "This is called life. And you belong there." Lassen knew he couldn't continue to be sad and that he had to keep working toward his dream of mak- ing a life in Hollywood, whatever that would turn out to be. A friend of his had been working with a party company, and said Lassen would be a great fit. He taught Lassen how to make balloon animals, how to paint faces, and some simple party games. "After that first birthday party, I got a piece of cake and a $20 tip," says Lassen. "And I was hooked. I could make $50 for an hour's worth of work, and have time to do other things." Lassen signed on with Celebration Entertainment to do birthday and holiday parties. Freely admitting he just fell into the work, he also realized it was a fun way to put his performing skills to use. The fact that he was mostly working weekends left him free to audition or take on other production jobs during the week. He turned those experiences into a book, Hollywood Clown, published in 2013, 38 PIERCE / FALL 2016 LASSEN'S EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE AT PIERCE WAS A LOT OF MAKING THINGS UP AS HE WENT ALONG, FOLLOWING IDEAS AND INSPIRATIONS TO THEIR NATURAL CONCLUSIONS. PREVIOUS SPREAD: DALE BERMAN. THIS PAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK. FACING PAGE: COURTESY OF JASON LASSEN '92.

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