I entered a tiny room alongside a dozen fellow ‘actors’ to meet the casting director of an Indonesian coffee commercial - ‘Kopiko’. Unfortunately for me my agent had failed to stipulate to me that it was a smart dress code, so while everyone looked as if ready for an audience with the Queen, I sported a
pair of loud flower shorts, an un-ironed cowboy shirt and a pair of over-worn sandals. Obviously taken by my garish appearance, the director called me out to the front first.
In his broken English he said; “Drink coffee. Smile. Say ‘hmmm yeah!” I had barely time to think before ‘Lights, camera, action!’
I managed to pick up the coffee, drink some, pull the cup from my mouth, smile and say “hmmm delicious!”
Why delicious? It is one word, why did I get it wrong?
Fortunately for me the director was obviously used to dealing with illiterate buffoons, and so reminded me in the pleasantest of tones that the word is not ‘Delicious’ but indeed ‘Yeah.’
Okay, deep breath, take two!
Again I pick up the coffee cup, drink some, pull the cup from my mouth, smile and say “hmmm nice!”
Cut! - 'Nice!'
I quickly apologised to the director and the rest of my peers for my lack of acting ability when trying to say this four-letter word correctly. To my surprise, however, the director held his patience and assured me that the rest of my acting was okay. This seemed to calm me down and I finally nailed it at the third time of asking.
There was no time to bask in a brilliant acting performance though as the director barked out his next instructions with an urgent plea.
“Drink coffee, then dance when music plays.” he said.
Again I had no time to think as he shouted action and I was off. At this point my hands began to shake even more furiously and my face was getting hotter and hotter. I managed to drink some coffee before the director pressed play on the CD player, blasting out some horrendous Indonesian pop song. With no time to think or to assess what dance to use for such an absurd song I began to pull out the robot moves, sliding from one end of the room to the other with great rhythm and guile - It turned out to be a sterling performance in the face of adversity.
However, there was one oversight in my routine.
Being caught up in the moment I had totally forgotten about the half-full cup of coffee in my trembling hand and the dozen Indonesians onlookers awaiting their turn. And in choosing the robot dance, in which excessive hand and arm movements are essential, I had caused a bit of a splash. Remarkably I had successfully managed to cover the whole front row of spectators with the contents of my cup and cause potentially thousands of pounds worth of damage to the camera equipment.
Despite this I remained oblivious and spun round, arms aloft in anticipation of great jubilations and cheering from he crowd. Instead I was greeted by a dozen angry, wet, smartly-dressed Indonesians and a fuming director, who languidly said, “We’ll call you.”