Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A surreal experience

This was one of the most unexpected experiences that the comedy thingy has brought me so far. An agency I work with pushed me forward for a TV commercial, apparently to promote a satellite TV network, and got me an audition. The role was described as "FOREIGN" and the main skill required "a STRONG native foreign accent". So, I can't say that the reason why I accepted was that I felt flattered, I guess it was more to do with curiosity and the sheer novelty of the experience. So I arrive at the casting studio only to discover that my name isn't on the list. Not only, but the woman managing it at one point even suggests that I could be too old for the role! Great, I'm here to take advantage of ethnic positive discrimination and instead I get to suffer negative age discrimination! I'm already on the way to the tube station when the agent calls me to say to go back to the studio and mention a certain name. So I do and finally I'm in. The waiting room of a casting agency must be one of the weirdest places on earth. People are clustered in groups where everybody eerily resembles each other. At one point I ask when my turn will be and I'm told: "After four more David Bellamy(s)". Apparently it's not a measure of time but it has something to do with some elderly guys (no age problem for them, I guess, if not maybe in reverse) with big white beards. I wonder what the casting to play ME would look like. "Please have a sit with those five Giacinto Palmieri(s), but I'm afraid that your goatee doesn't look messy enough". Moreover, I'm asked to fill a form full of questions like: "Do you know of anything regarding you that could bring ridicule or disrepute onto the product?". "Yes, I once applied for a TV commercial", I think, but cowardly not write. After wasting an hour with a male/female script only to discover there is no female partner available ("the story of my life", I tell the casting people) I'm finally paired with an atypically timid French guy and given a different script, some sort of gangster scene. This is of course a positive turn of events, given that in my comedy I play quite a lot with the Mafia stereotype. We rehearse the scene few times and at last, two ours after my original appointment time, we are asked to perform it in front of the camera, first in English, then replacing the last two sentences with the Italian/French equivalent. How did it go? That's very difficult thing to say, given that I'm not quite sure of what was expected from me. If the point was sounding Italian, then I probably did, but I would have achieved the same result by reading the Queen's Speech. But I had quite fun doing it and it was for me a truly novel experience.

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