Wow! That’s big!
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
When I was about 16, I played the recruiting officer in a school production of Mother Courage. The male recruiting officer. This would have been all right if there hadn’t also been boys in the play. I will be haunted for years by the memory of standing in front of an audience, khaki jacket stretched over my confused teenage torso, staring up at two male “soldiers” a foot taller than I was, and having to shout “You look like the kind of lads I’m after! Nice big chests!”
The first night, awkwardly enough, it got a laugh. It isn’t supposed to get a laugh. Mother Courage is supposed to be a piece of harrowing German tragedy. Still, what could I do? The second night, I played it for laughs. I never got cast in a school play again.
I remembered this a couple of days ago, when the script came through for a PokerStars commercial we were due to shoot today. My lines were basically a list of things that might be said in poker situations, like “I raise” and “Nice hand” - and, I discovered on page two, “Wow! That’s big!”
Clutching the script in my trembling hand, I was 16 again, in front of that giggling crowd of my peers.
“You can’t make me say, ‘Wow, that’s big!’ ” I whined to the director. “Do you KNOW what they’ll do with that on the internet?”
“It’s okay”, soothed the director. “In the commercial, you’ll be saying that in response to someone making an all-in bet.”
“Yes”, I said. “When they’ve finished playing with it on the Hendon Mob Forum, I can assure you I’ll be saying it in response to something quite different.”
I think my lower lip might have started to tremble. I am a nightmare for makeup ladies the world over - one of my many curious tomboy qualities is that I HATE having my makeup done, I don’t like having my face touched, particularly not my eyes and ugh ugh not my hair, I don’t like the feeling of wearing makeup, I find it most peculiar to have a multicoloured face, and I get impatient in the chair, squirming around and wriggling to get away. It’s like trying to give a cat a bath. So, possibly anticipating a meltdown of my eye makeup and an hour’s further torture for the poor woman who’d put it on in the first place, the nice director allowed me to change my line to “How much? Wow!” A bit ditsy, but definitely the kind of thing I’d say.
Walking back past the makeup room, I saw the excellent Barry Greenstein, multiple tournament-winner, lavish charity-giver, poker guru, wise man, father, writer, broadcaster. I was feeling a little guilty at having been difficult so I told Barry the story, knowing he would sympathize with the situation I’d been hoping to avoid. Barry Greenstein is aware of the mischief that happens on those poker forums and, being a proper grown-up man, he would have no time for such nonsense.
Barry listened, sombre-faced, nodding sympathetically. There was a pause when I’d finished. Barry thought about it for a while, carefully mulling it over, and then said: “Of course, it would have been all right to say ‘Wow, that’s big!”... as long as you were looking at me when you said it.”
Then he winked, giggled and carried on clipping his beard.