An Actor's Life

Out of work actors…


Massive spike in readership now, very good people. Now you just need to start leaving comments and we can begin a dialogue, wouldn’t that be lovely. Yesterday’s blog got a very good reaction in terms of hits, which is nice to see. I quite like the fact that for the internet getting hit is a good thing, I guess that Leona Lewis fan who assaulted her at the book signing misunderstood the concept.

I’m a big book fan, in that I’m a big fan of books not a fan of extra large books. Currently I’m reading an autobiography of a comedian. In it he talks of a holiday where he encounters ‘out of work actors’ entertaining the children in all manner of costumes. This struck a nerve. The work I do for the Natural Theatre Company could equally be described as this, we dress up in daft costumes and make people laugh in the street, or at events, parties, openings etc. I’ve had people or more than occasion ask me if I’m ‘normally’ an actor. What do they mean? Do they assume that all actors when not in plays or films just go around the place being eccentric to entertain the public?

The phrase ‘out of work actor’ is most commonly used to describe actors who, in order to pay the rent, have to take on the lowest forms of work in the game like skin work (dressing up as Mickey Mouse etc). Whilst this work is hideous, un-fulfilling and demoralising it is work. They get paid to do it. Handsomely. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it. The Natural’s do not do skin work, thankfully, we have a stable of eccentric characters who populate spaces generally turning the norms upside down or making the surreal mundane. Like the nudes you’ll see below.

Feargy performing as a nude in Germany.
Natural Theatre nudes in Hannover (2nd from left)

 The gig I was working when this photo was taken is still one of the best I’ve ever been fortunate enough to bag. We were flown to Germany, put up in a nice hotel, got ping pong tiddly that evening, and then next morning went to this fabulous 70s themed party thrown by the biggest electrical retailer in Europe. Everything was free, and Boney M were on the bill, imagine!

Today I have rather more prosaic work for the Naturals, re-giving my Sulinus and Antigonus the romans I told you about before. We are to stay rigidly in character circa the second century and occasionally people really struggle with the fact we refuse to recognise modern life. Some get very angry when you try to tell them you’ve never heard of America, or that it must a small island of the coast of Ireland. Others refuse to accept the game and well harangue you relentlessly about not being a ‘real’ stonemason, “You’re hands aren’t calloused enough!” They shout triumphantly. I love these people, I’m stood in front of them professing undying worship of the Goddess Sulis Minerva, in full Brittianica Tunica, claiming to be working for Gaius Calpernius high priest and head of the Ordo of Aqui Sulis and they want to pick holes with the fact my hands aren’t calloused? Excellent.

Presidential Qualifictaion?
November 18, 2009, 9:28 am
Filed under: Career Arc, Just funny | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Love this blog! It’s nonsense. I love the idea that Sarah Palin is not qualified to be President. As if there is an exam you could sit. It’d be great. “I’m taking English, Maths, Media Studies and How to be President.” Also, what does it matter? She’s not announced she’s running yet, Obama still has three years and is doing a fairly good job. He’s obviously got the whole spin thing down he won a Nobel peace prize whilst being Commander in Cheif of an army involved in TWO WARS! Excellent work.

If Palin does decide to run, let her. It will be a god send to all the ‘political’ comedians in America that sprung up to kick the wounded puppy of Bush’s intellect. Everyone is still a bit scared to go for Obama for fear of being racist (See my earlier blog) that and the fact that he appears to be a stand-up guy who is intelligent, makes considered decisions, writes and speaks excellently, is compassionate, and many other superlative adjectives. The guy can govern, now let him.

Oddly transatlantic political opening to this blog. This blog which I actually wrote yesterday because today I am working. If you were to pop into the Roman Baths, Bath, UK today there is a high chance you’ll see me in either recorded or, bestill your beating heart, live form. Recorded is almost a given as I filmed some ambient stuff for them last year which they have on a loop, and live would depend on you being there at the right time as I reprise my comedy roman act. I play a stone-mason with thick west country brogue and a Roman legionary straight out of Sandhurst. I’m either wonderfully stupid, or hilariously arrogant. The same goes for when I’m acting, ba dum bum cha!

Thanks to all my wonderful readers by the way. Readership has increased 400% over the last two blogs. Maybe leave a comment with your names then I’ll thank you all personally. Be sure to check back tomorrow I’ve got a truly golden joke to share.

Tongue twister titters on twitter?
November 17, 2009, 2:58 pm
Filed under: Career Arc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hello people! Yes, we officially have people up in here. Fine, we have person but we’re growing.

So, today I’m still not working, see the definition of actor in my inaugral post. I have however, applied for a role in a tour of Romeo & Juliet in Italy. That’s right imagine giving it “would I were a glove upon that hand that I might touch that face” in Verona itself? Would be good, huh?

I’ve been working on some more sketches for the show on the 17th of December too. Keeping it Radio 4 friendly, so lots of wordy jokes so far. I’m currently working on some more tongue-twister material as our Peter Piper police went down so well last time;

ME – Tell us what you know!
HEF – I can’t say it.
ME – Tell us!
HEF – It’s too difficult to say.
HEF – Ok, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
ME – I knew it, but we need evidence, if Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, wheres the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked? Did you see where he went?
HEF – Round the ragged rocks the ragged rascal ran.
ME – Damn. He must of had an accomplice.
HEF – Uh, huh.
ME – Who?
HEF – Betty.
ME – Betty?
HEF – Betty.
ME – What’s she doing mixed up in this?
HEF – Betty’s bankrupt.
ME – Betty’s bankrupt? How?
HEF – Well, Betty bought a bit of butter, but the bit of butter Betty bought was bitter. So Betty bought a better bit of butter, to make the bitter butter better.
ME – And what does Betty do these days?
HEF – She sells sea shells on the sea shore.

If that’s not funny, try getting a mate to say it out loud with you. It takes a little rehearsal but is a winner with middle class crowds. Anybody that has well-known tongue-twisters to share please do leave them in the comments.

My plans for the rest of the day include going for Mexican with an old mate, will give me a chance to use one of my favourite ‘bad’ jokes – “Why should you never eat Mexican cheese? ‘Cos it’s nacho cheese!” Gold. Some people think it’s racist but it’s not. I will elaborate.

‘Racist’ comedy was very much in vogue up until fairly recently, then it went underground for a bit and now is back in the mainstream with the caveat of being ‘ironic’. I have a slight problem with ironic racism due to the fact that even if you’re saying “We’re both too clever to actually think that all black people are stealing our stereos, but it’s a funny stereotype isn’t it?” You’re still perpetuating the stereotype that causes ethnic minorities to be victimised by police and moronic bigots. I hate casual racism, but love the image conjured up; two Klan members leaning against a wall smoking a black guy walks past “Shall we lynch him?” “No, can’t really be bothered.”

Anyway, I’ve strayed from my original point, which was that my Mexican joke isn’t racist. Neither is a joke about June Sarpong being brown and sticky, she is brown in colour and has arms like twigs. Simply mentioning race and colour isn’t in itself racist, it’s just observation. Racism comes when you attribute qualities universally to a race, for example all black people are thieves. Or even positive attributes like “All chinks are clever” Ok the racial slur in that one helps. So jokes about people’s colour aren’t intrinsically racist. Not funny, but true.

I’ll see you tomorrow when I will single-handedly…type for a bit.

The meaning of life.
November 16, 2009, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Career Arc | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Hey hey,

So, there is officially no-one out there reading this. Or at least no-one has read my first post as yet. Including me, proof reading is at best, obsessive at worst ,vanity. Still I will continue with my babblings on what it is to be an actor. But first I will follow through on last posts promise of solving the meaning of life, it’s in the dictionary between lieutenant and lift and means; the relatively short and painful bit between birth and death.

Well there we go. A lot of people spend a lot of time worrying about getting their work/life balance in order. My immediate worry for these people isn’t so much the balance as the fact that they appear to either hate their jobs so much they consider them outside of life or, far more worryingly, are the professional undead. My work/life balance is on an even keel with both being comfortably within the realms of mediocre; I’m not wildly successful, but no pauper, I don’t sky dive whilst coked up to my eyeballs, neither do I so jigsaws in a cardigan made of cats.

I was working all day Friday so sorry for no posting, not that anyone was left in suspense as nobody read it, still though sorry. The job on Friday was a bit of a giggle, up to our nation’s fair capital to provide comedy cops for a New York themed christmas party. It was at the very lovely Somerset House complete with ice rink, I’m hoping for some photos to be Emailed my way and rest assured if I get them you’ll be the first to digitally ignore them. The evening basically consisted of shouting “Hey you! What’s in the bag? Come on lady on the side walk, the SIDE WALK! Get out of here! etc” All in cod New Yoika. There was one memorable incident when a rather drunk woman thought I was a stripper and tried to take off my shirt only for her child to ask “Mummy what are you doing to that nice policeman?” Which sobered her up a bit.

That is all, good day.

November 12, 2009, 11:16 am
Filed under: Career Arc | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Ok, lets see… what do we have here? Yet another blog. Good.  Can’t get too many of those bad boys can you? So what’s the main raison detre or currant detergent or whatever of this one?

Well, my lovely readers I am an actor. As you are all no doubt aware being an actor is code for ‘sporadically employed’ and therefore I have free time on my hands. Too much. If the free time cost anything at all I’d be in an even worse financial situation than I am now. To fill my free time I’m going to write musings on the trials and tribulations of an actor’s life here. I also write comedy so hopefully this will be funny. Initial signs are fairly unpromising but believe me if you stick with it, this here blog will have you rolling in the aisles. Should that occur the obvious question is where are you reading this that has aisles? Do you surf at the cinema? Or on a plane? At a wedding? That would be great – “Do you take this woman to be your lawful wedded wife?” “Hang on, just finishing off this article in The Onion.”

So, on with the musings. Right now the musings run something like this; I am employed – Great. The work I am employed doing is lovely but not really where I want to be going – less great. Let me clarify. I work for the fabulous Natural Theatre Company. We provide excellent street theatre comedy characters, worth noting that we aren’t limited to street stages we often do parties and corporate events etc. The work is great, and funny, and people smile at you and I hope to continue doing it for a long old while. However, I also very much hope to play Hamlet at the RSC before I’m 30 and the two things don’t really have a lot of crossover. It’s hard to really access you inner struggle with your father’s death whilst wearing a flower pot on your head. Ah, right yeah. One of  the Natural’s most famous characters are the Flowerpots, sharply dressed British stereotypes with flowerpots for heads.

So yeah, that’s where I am now really. I love the work I do, but I wish there was a bit more variety in it and my ego is crying out for some director somewhere to say

Dir: “You! Yes you. You with the face and stuff.”
Me: “Me?”
Dir: “Do you have a face?”
Me: “Yes.”
Dir: “Stuff?”
Me: “I have a limited amount of stuff, yes.”
Dir: “Good, then I should like for you to be in my play because I think you are truly fantastic and are going to revolutionise the way the world thinks of theatre. In fact you may even revolutionise the way the world thinks of the world. Maybe even the way they think of revolution!”
Me: “Wow, that sounds great. Will I be the lead?”
Dir: “No too tall for the lead, you’ll play the third spear carrier from the left.”
Me: “Ok. Done.”

That is the extent of my longings. This conversation plays itself out in my head daily, it has yet to transfer to any other venues although we live in hope. I hope you have enjoyed this post, if you’d like to check back tomorrow I’m going to divulge the meaning of life. I can’t believe people have been searching for so long and not found it, I just looked it up in a dictionary and the meaning was right there, in between lieutenant and lift.