Bearing All

Much like a discontinued bus service, successful castings for me tend to not come at all most of the time, while I’m left standing there ignoring the ‘no longer in use’ sign. However like the ever brilliant 134 bus service from Finchley to Tottenham Court Road (and it is brilliant) last week, three came all at once (though this rarely happens with the 134). Two of which, were for adverts, one of which I filmed last weekend in Crete. Now I understand how people feel about comedians doing adverts. I have had the Bill Hicks material quoted at me hundreds of times, and argued with many who were unfairly detrimental towards Mark Watson for advertising pear cider. I have this simple view on it,  which was backed by non-other than Captain Ethical Barometer Mark Thomas himself: I have to pay bills, sometimes the best way to pay those bills is to do adverts. Acting is not outside of the remit of work that I do, in fact it’s very much part of it, and as long as the advert is not for anything I morally oppose, then I don’t see why I shouldn’t do it. So, so far in 2007 I did an advert for Carlsberg, a brand I very much have enjoyed and heavily drank over the years in a variety of locations and quantities – see said ad here – and last week I did two for products that while I don’t use myself, I’m not against in any fashion. Note how I carefully don’t mention what they are as the pay checks haven’t yet arrived….

Anyway, the first advert involved being dressed as a milkman and having a football kicked at my head by Jimmy Greaves while I threw myself into a crash mat. So y’know, standard everyday happenings. And the second advert required flying to Crete to sit on a beach everyday at 5am dressed in a Hawaiian shirt. It also involved a few ‘fun shots’ that the director thought would add humour which involved me being in just a pair of shorts and emerging from the sea. At the time I said yep, took of my shirt, immersed myself in freezing cold water and for the sake of comedy went for it 100%. Probably not all that unusual to mention, but since returning I’ve had the cathartic realisation that I really wouldn’t have felt quite so happy about doing that several years ago. Not due to the idea which was very funny. Or due to the crew, who were lovely and made me feel very comfortable working with them. No, just because several years ago, I would’ve felt a lot less comfortable exposing my podgy self to the rest of the world.

My physique hasn’t changed for many years (apart from a brief spell of singledom 2010-2011 where I became all svelte for the ladies), and I’ve always been on the chubby side. From the side my front resembles a capital B, albeit with a smaller top bit, and my face has always had a certain roundness to it. This has resulted in some teasing, some lovely heckles such as ‘Oi Teddy Ruxpin’ and several gay admirers who like ‘bears’ and I don’t mean the grizzly kind. Well I sort of do, but different grizzly. For comedy purposes I’ve embraced my beer loving gut and talked about it onstage, but in reality I’ve felt uncomfortable about sunbathing with my top off and photos at certain angles for fear the camera adds to ten pounds to my already large physical bank account. So aside from a play at University where I had to get my bum out in front of 300 people while delivering a deadly serious monologue about having my genitals shot off in the Falklands – it’s a play called Bollocks by Lee Hall and is actually superb – I haven’t really delved into the confident nakedness that other performers I’ve met will so happily do. I’m looking at you Phil Nichol. Well, only at your eye level. (Incidentally I have a great bum. I will proudly show that off at any point. Just ask.*)

But since hitting 30 I’ve just stopped caring. I’m not entirely sure when or how this happened but I’ve finally realised this is very much my shape. I do quite like it and because of that I now, for the misfortune of all those around at the time, willingly show it off. I’ve never been one to judge others on how they look – unless they are wearing red trousers – and I like how as people, we all look pretty different. It’s what makes us much better than say, seals who all definitely look the same. All of them. I’m not just being sealist. Seriously, if you got attacked by a seal, you try picking them out of a line up. Impossible. Anyway, at Altitude festival last year I got this picture taken from a late night gig, which ended up in GQ (sassy). In December I danced in my pants for the digital TV sitcom Marshal’s Law and last weekend I emerged from the sea like Daniel Craig if Daniel Craig actually enjoyed cakes.

I’m not really sure what the message is here and I’m also not sure what it’ll do for the product. But for me, it’s nice to say that I definitely feel comfortable in my own skin. Even if there’s quite a bit of skin.

* Please don’t.