Health Advisory for Those Bitten by the Acting Bug

Where could I have been exposed to acting bugs? 

Acting bugs are notoriously hard to identify with the naked eye, and much like bed bugs, they are difficult to eradicate. They are commonly found in school auditoriums and the local cinema. The CDC estimates that up to ten thousand are infected annually at drama camps alone.

What are common symptoms?

If bitten, women may find themselves breaking out in a rousing rendition of “Ladies Who Lunch” or punctuating brunch conversations with jazz hands. However, symptoms often present differently in men, who are prone to quote lines from Scarface or act out the “You talkin’ to me!?” scene from Taxi Driver. Entrances and exits may also be punctuated with an ”I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” “Get to da choppa!” or “Here’s Johnny!!!”

How long will it be before symptoms start to show?

In rare cases, the acting bug may burrow deep under the skin and lay dormant for years, until one day, to the surprise of friends and family, the patient quits his/her comfortable day job to pursue a career as a professional actor. 

In most cases, however, the progression of the disease is rapid, resulting in the urge to volunteer to be an audience participant in your child’s birthday magic show, or to audition for commercials at the local car dealership or, serve as an extra in Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson’s summer blockbuster shooting in your hometown. 

What’s the suggested treatment?

If caught early, this disease can be cured with a four-week course of oral antibiotics. However, patients can sometimes have symptoms of narcissism and delusions of grandeur that linger for years. This condition is called Deviant Interstitial Volatile Acting Syndrome (DIVAS). Unfortunately, there is no proven treatment for DIVAS, though studies of support groups led by former child actors have shown promising results. 

Due to the social aspects of this disease, treatment often involves the entire family. Do not be surprised if your physician suggests family counseling in addition to regular sessions with a therapist. As everyone is gathered in the same place, you may be tempted to pass out comps to your student showcase. Resist this urge.

How do I help someone I love who’s been bitten by the acting bug? And is it contagious?

If your friend or relative suffers from this condition, an intervention may be required. As a general rule, do not bring up physical concerns like “how will they eat?” To the patient, groceries, or “craft services,” are no longer of importance. Those bitten by the acting bug can survive for weeks on single-serve packages of fruit snacks and Goldfish crackers they pillaged the last time their name showed up on a call sheet under “unnamed murder victim.”

Instead, confront the patient with receipts showing the thousands of dollars spent on headshots and classes on the Meisner technique and something called “Viewpoints.” 

And no, this disease is not passed from person to person, but requires direct contact with an acting bug.

What is the long term prognosis?

You may relapse and occasionally ask for a closeup during your quarterly performance review or break the fourth wall while in line at school-pickup, but this is to be expected. With a little help from your support network, you’ll learn to manage these compulsions.

So … should I register for an advanced clowning workshop?

Please call your doctor immediately. Or, better yet, drive yourself to urgent care.