There’s an obvious reason I don’t know how to be a character. It’s that fear thing again; I’m afraid to look stupid. As always, I think Kelly would be great at improv. Since we were young she’s always done accents and impersonations of other people. Even then, I was afraid to join in and try to play along because I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to do it and I’d look like an idiot.
Now I have to try. I figure, an accent isn’t a character, but it will probably help me get into a character. I get on the computer and start watching youtube videos to learn how to speak with a British accent. It’s hard. Some words are easier than others, so I write them down: party, corner, Peter, over, first, dark, important, exciting, matter, please, been, and pretty, to name a few. Then there are British words: pub, flat, dodgy, fancy, wanker, bloody, mobile, brilliant, rubbish, bugger, shag, crap, bloke, bollocks. Tonight I have work, so instead of talking out loud to myself, I now have to speak to my employees in a British accent. I decide to try it out on T (Taylor), our cute little hostess. She won’t judge me. I keep trying to do it and then get nervous. I can’t believe how hard this is. Finally, I start talking to her in my terrible British accent as I explain why I am speaking in a British accent. It’s so weird and bad. I’m speaking so slow and deliberately, trying to do it right, which only makes it worse. T gets a kick out of it, and is so supportive. “Stets, you can only talk to me in a British accent now.” Did I mention everyone at Brick+Mortar calls me Stets? I know I mentioned it, but it’s stuck, and I love it.
She tells Anna Rose (another server) what I’m doing, and I continue speaking to her in my new accent. Anna Rose is also an actress (shocking), and she starts speaking in an accent. Actually, she does a bunch of different accents and is so good, like so incredibly good that I have to break. Oh my God, you’re so good at accents! Help me! She does. It’s kind of amazing. I still am terrible, but I was afraid of looking stupid and even here, at work, people are trying to help me. Although I am getting questions now. “Did you just get cast in something?” Um no, I just am practicing a British accent. Normal.
The next day, I watch Love Actually and The Holiday – two Christmas movies with characters who speak in British accents. I basically just repeat everything they say. It’s way, way more helpful than trying to do it on my own. And really funny. Sometimes I pause and rewind if I have trouble with a sentence. By the end, I’m feeling much more confident than I did yesterday. Courtney calls me later that night. She puts me on speaker for her and Chris. I start speaking normal but quickly turn into my British accent. “What are you doing, I’m going to hang up on you.” I explain, in “character.” “You’re so weird.” Do I sound bad (accent)? “No, it’s just weird.” Well weird is better than bad. I torture the twins a little longer and find out the reason they really called. I posted something on fb about Blair and Dan being together because I love them together (Gossip Girl). But I’m way behind on seasons, so they thought I posted that in response to something recent and wanted to talk about it. No. We then have an argument because I LOVE Blair and Dan and they hate them. Whatever. I knew Harry and Hermione wouldn’t be together and I loved Harry and Ginny. Did they end up together? Yes. Loved Pacey and Joey from day one. Did they end up together? Yes. I mean, I know Blair and Chuck are good together. Whatever. Dan and Blair just gave me that feeling. I’m telling you, I know what works. I will say, though, that Gossip Girl is getting worse and worse. And I just can’t stop watching. Mike gets home and I continue with my accent. He stops and stares for a second, then laughs. He knows me better than anyone, and this is really weird for me to be speaking with an accent. “What are you doing?” I explain, as I have to everyone else. “You sound good!” Thank you. Seriously, I need him to not laugh at me, and he’s not. He even tries speaking back to me with his own British accent.
The next day is already improv. I’m nervous, but at least I have a plan. We have another sub today – Guy. He’s so nice. I will say that for Expert Talker, it’s a lot less stressful with Guy than it would be with Jay, only because Guy asks less tough, specific questions. At the same time, I want Jay to see me do this, because he’s my teacher and he’s the one I really want approval from. But whatever, I’m ready. It’s my turn. I jump on stage. “What’s your name?” Nicole. “OK Nicole.” The class laughs. No, it’s Lindsay. I guess I haven’t mentioned this either. Jay calls me Nicole. Apparently, I look like a Nicole. He asked me if I minded and I said no, because I really don’t. Call me whatever you want, Jay. It’s become a joke now that he calls me Nicole when I do something wrong or mess up. But sometimes he’ll randomly say it too, and catch me off guard. My classmates do it, too. “God, Nicole.” I think it’s funny. OK, so yea, I’m Lindsay. Guy takes suggestions from the class and finally decides. “OK, you’re an expert on the NFL and the next big thing to make players safer.” OK, this should be easy. I know football. My mind immediately goes to NFL players committing suicide from so many concussions, so I start to talk about that and say we’ve come up with a way to stop suicide. “Stop.” Shit. “You’re talking about suicide. That’s depressing.” Shit, I know, sorry, that’s where my mind went because that’s what I know (because I’m so unoriginal to think of something funny). “It’s OK, but now the audience is depressed, too. You don’t want that.” Yea, duh, God, I’m an idiot. OK, start over.
I begin again, with my British accent. My idea is a new outfit for football players to wear underneath they’re uniform that gives them more padding. Which means they’re helmets need to be bigger and their uniforms need to be bigger, which makes it more difficult to run, but it’s safer. This is the normal part of it. It gets so ridiculous. Guy cuts me off. “What’s this new padding called?” Oh, right, of course, it’s called….the under layer padding wear. This is totally not what I said but something equally as terrible because I couldn’t think on the spot. Are you getting embarrassed for me? You have no idea. “How have you tested this?” Oh, yes, of course, we took two players who both have no record of misdemeanors or anything like that, and had one practice normally – “What were their names?” Oh, player A was Robert Ingling. And player B was John Hall (again, I don’t remember the names I used but on the spot it was so hard to come up with two simple names). Player A practiced all week normally and Player B wore the new padding. They both went out to the same bar, and Player B (now I’ve forgotten the name I’ve made up for him so I just keep referring to him as Player B), had a few drinks, and went home. Player A, on the other hand, ended up getting in a fight and punching a woman in the face! (Remember, this is all in my British accent.) I go on to say other weird things. At the end, Guy, who doesn’t know me, gives me some very good notes. You were speaking with an accent, which is great, but what was your character’s opinion? Sometimes when people speak with an accent they think that is the character, but it’s not.” He’s so smart. I knew that, but I was so concentrated on speaking correctly that I didn’t even think about giving my British character an opinion. Ugh, so much to work on!