Sunday, December 20, 2009

Making friends and influencing people

Last night's set was ok; not much audience reaction, so it wasn't the greatest note to finish 2009 on, but I got a few laughs, and felt I was halfway competent at hosting the night. I need to rehearse a bit more so I've got a decent set to perform too though: hosting is easier because it doesn't rely so much on a tight piece of material, but I don't want to just host...

Afterwards we went for drinks and we met a few members of the audience, including a really aggressive American lawyer. Or perhaps he was just drunk. It was strange to be accused of just having an accent for comic purposes, as though I don't talk the way I do anyway. And then he began to oscillate between saying that my scarf was pretentious and effeminate, and asking where he could buy one in Hong Kong. I tried to tell him that I'm not an expert in the buying and selling of Khmer-manufactured soft goods, but he seemed dubious of this claim.

There were four girls outside at the bar, smoking from a hookah and minding their own business. Like some sort of attention-starved gannets, the comedians kept trying to catch their eye and engage them. I didn't really see the point, but then I have got a girlfriend. Otherwise I'd have been fawning over them too. But since they were 18, I'm old enough to be their father (I'm British, and we start getting people pregnant when we're young).

Despite this, I took the remaining chair next to them. I'd been on my feet all day. I found out that one of them was going to Kings in London to study law. I almost told her she'd be a very good lawyer, on account of having a gigantic head, but I suppose you're not meant to casually insult somebody you've only just met. I failed to impress them with my kitten-wrapping joke, and after the other comedians started to jeer at me and suggest I was lying about my Oxford education, the girls left. It's good to know I am capable of repelling 18-year-old girls.

The American lawyer was growing increasingly cross, especially as the owner of the bar had to keep asking him to keep the noise down. (The police are forever coming round to the bars in Soho to follow up on noise complaints.) He started asking me if he should steal one of the bottles of champagne on the shelf. The bar has a rather unwise storage facility for booze; they put all the champagne on a shelf out back, where there will usually be drunks ready to take it. I had to tell him that I was no moral authority, and left before he could make me an accomplice to his theft. Although theft involves the intention to permanently deprive another of their possession, so perhaps if he'd drunk the champagne and then excreted it back into the bottle, that would have been alright. We shall never know.

I had a greasy slice of pizza at the bar, then went home to bed. Such is the reward for a comedian at the top of his game.

Today, I had a long journey to Chai Wan, to audition for a romantic comedy. Chai Wan is in the far east of Hong Kong; far enough out that the MTR rises out of its tunnel and onto the elevated section. I was disappointed to see that the outside of the MTR looks grimy, after only ever seeing the shiny clean insides before.

The audition was in a building named the Industrial City; a rather overblown title for a fairly small tower. I'm not sure how well it went; the script was quite a difficult one to read. The writer and the producer were there at the read-through and although I thought of pointing out the egregious errors in the script (an Englishman saying 'jerk off in the washroom' instead of 'having a wank in the toilet', and stage directions where a character stands up twice without sitting down) my girlfriend had advised me not to. Like a coward, I refrained. I should have tackled the writer to the floor and slapped him across the face, shouting hysterically "stand up! Now stand up again! Stand up! Stand up again!" But I lacked the courage of my convictions. I read the part twice, trying to be as obnoxious as it seemed to require, and fluffing a couple of lines the second time through. Good to start strong, and lose the ability to speak English by the end.

There will be a call-back in January. I assume not for me, although one of the other actors auditioning thought she recognised me from a previous audition. I am gladdened by the thought that I have a doppelganger, wandering Hong Kong, auditioning for Canadian romantic comedies, and, I assume, failing to wrestle writers to the floor to chastise them for not correctly observing regional slang.


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