I have worked with many famous people during my many years of employment in Show Business. Oh sure, I could drop names like Beyonce, Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Kevin Bacon, Charlize Theron, Bruce Springsteen, Jennifer Aniston, Elizabeth Taylor, but I won’t. Besides, they have restraining orders – some lasting past their demise.
But do you know who my favorite actors are to work with? Chimps.
I love chimpanzees. Okay, there, I said it. That’s the way I’m gonna roll.
They are just so honest. Sometimes when a petulant starlet hits the stage, hours have to be spent getting her to “a place” where she can feel comfortable enough to do “her work.” It takes hours of compliments, Starbucks runs and sushi.
Not the chimps. They come out of their dressing room diaper clad and ready to work. You never have to worry about what mood the chimps are in because they wear their emotions on their hairy arms, and will instantly express feelings that everyone else in the room wishes they could.
On a recent commercial shoot in a car dealership, when our chimp felt a take went on too long, he would just sit down, or turn his back or make a bodily function noise. Now who among us hasn’t thought about any of those options in the past, when a meeting has just gone on way too long, or the motivational speaker at the corporate team-building retreat starts talking about making everyone do improv games?
When the chimp got frustrated or angry at his fellow human actor in the scene for dropping lines, or with some direction that he felt was incorrect and offensive to him as a simian thespian, he would jump up and down, or start screaming, or tear up and eat a bunch of brochure props. Again, I must reiterate: who among us?
But my favorite move of all, one that I really want to try myself sometime, is when he just got tired of being on camera, the chimp would slowly start inching sideways out of frame and out of the scene, almost as if he was thinking, “If I just move slowly enough, they won’t notice that I’m gone . . . ” Genius.
“Where’d Forrest go?”
“I dunno, but I guess the meeting is adjourned.”