June 22, 2005

New Jobs for Actors

I got a kick out of this anecdote about a "live commercial" for British Airways on the tube to Heathrow:

...on the train back to Heathrow, two men stopped in my car and started talking about how one of them wasn't going to make his flight. The man insisted that he was going to make his flight because he'd checked-in online way before hand at BA.com. The conversation/argument went on for about a minute and a half before the BA.com stuff got out of hand and it turned out that the guys were actors paid to make us think about BA.com. They went to the next car and began again.

Stayfree's Charles Star connects this to the wartime "whispering campaigns" of the 30s and 40s. I can see the connection, but to me this sounds more like a formal commercial, as though the people on the TV just popped out of the screen and into your train. Since I love TV, I'd probably enjoy being the audience of something like this, at least the first few times. (As long as they're not shouting like that Oxyclean guy - that would be annoying.)

In fact, this is done informally all the time, in that people re-enact commercials on their own in real life as a recreational activity. My sister and I, as kids, used to go up to people and say things like "ooh, ring around the collar." And then one of us would say "those dirty rings. You try scraping, and scrubbing, and you still get..." OK, we were a little weird, but I know we weren't the only ones.

We were dedicated amateurs. I wonder how much a pro gets paid for a gig like that. Maybe Whisk owes me some money...

Posted by Dr. Frank at June 22, 2005 03:04 PM | TrackBack

hmmm..perhaps indeed a ridiculous job for on the side...i think any annoying factor might just make it more fun.;)

a friend of might is taking some voiceover class
she's not that thrilled about. she showed me some of the things she had read. i apparently had a much easier time not laughing at them.

Posted by: just me at June 22, 2005 09:19 PM

On my only trip to Paris, five years ago, my wife and I were in a full Metro car when two men started arguing. We don't speak French, so all we could do was observe them and our fellow passengers. The argument began to grow heated, and the atmosphere in the subway car grew tense as everyone strenuously tried to ignore the fighting men and pretend that nothing unusual was happening. The argument built to a crescendo of shouting and pushing, the other passengers were mortified, the tension seemed unbearable, when suddenly--Pop!--the men stopped fighting, turned to their fellow passengers and addressed us all, and revealed that they were actually performance artists and that this was a piece of street theater. (At least that's what we gathered.) The crowd's relief was palpable, and they burst into applause. Then the performers passed the hat--with great success--and got off at the next stop. I've never seen anything like it, and I can't imagine an "act" like that working here in the States, although I'm not sure what that says about the differences between American and French culture (and subway systems).

Posted by: Ed Batista at June 24, 2005 06:16 PM

This happens in subways in New York City all the time. Except that most of the participants don't know ahead of time that they'll be "performing," and at the end, the star performer just takes the audience's wallets and other valuables.
Then, after "passing the hat," he puts it back on sideways and gets off the subway.

Posted by: Stig at June 28, 2005 05:36 PM
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