The ‘art’ of putting oneself down. Taking the mickey out of oneself for comic effect. It is comic seam I have mined over the years, to an extent on stage but particularly so in my writing.
Eclipsed as a storyline lends itself easily to this technique and genre. Writing a book about a dad being outshone by his offspring – it suits the narrative for the author to dwell more on his misses and fortunately there have been plenty to choose from.
Self-deprecation only really works, however, if the person has the appropriate characteristics to malign: very fat/thin, very tall/small, ugly, ginger, bald…
Fortunately, I can be alarmingly stupid and if not stupid, then I am certainly hapless. And as such, I tend to find myself in awkward situations and scrapes, an upside of which is that these are amusing for people to hear about.
And although I do embellish such incidents – they are not made up. They actually happened and are worthy additions to a book that is meant to be an entertaining read – or listen.
Being wrong on almost everything pertaining to Tom’s career is a good example of this and a useful spine of Eclipsed. And this fault line continues. Regular blog readers might recall that I advised Tom against doing his now infamous lip-sync battle – which currently has 130m views and growing daily.
Of the many comic and bizarre incidents I recount in Eclipsed, I make mention here of two of my favourites.
Let’s call them Domism’s…
Dining at the Ivy on the Shore in California – as you do! – where the great and the good of Hollywood have been gathered by the producers of The Impossible in the hope to create some Oscar buzz around their movie. And it worked with Naomi Watts getting a nomination for Best Actress. (She didn’t win but no matter because the Holland family can attest to Naomi being a thoroughly lovely individual and this is far more worthy than any gong or accolade.)
During the meal, a lady sitting to my left becomes confused and has me as the character depicted by Ewan McGregor in the movie. So, she thinks I am the dad in real life. The actual man who along with his family survived the deadly 2004 tsunami. And rather than correcting her and explaining that I am in fact just the dad of an actor from the movie, I decide that a better ploy might be to play along.
I cannot adequately explain this. In my strange head, I decide that this will save her any embarrassment for her confusion. But as it would transpire, it would cause me excruciating pain as I tried to recount just how I managed to cheat death. Flailing is the best way to describe this and showing her errant scars on my arms was a low that still haunts me.
And then to the beautiful island of Phi Phi, Thailand for a Holland family holiday over Christmas – as you do – but only if you happen to be loaded.
The Holland family were in Thailand for the filming of The Impossible – and rather than decamp home to England for the Xmas break, instead, I booked a week in Phi Phi for a holiday well beyond our usual price range. The hotel was packed with wealthy Europeans. Germans and Swedes. You know, professionals. Men with proper jobs. Bankers, not comedians. All excessively tall with skinny blonde wives and two kids – a boy and girl. We were the only English family and with our four boys, in my strange head, I decide that this made me the resort’s Alpha Male.
Until I realised that our booking included a mandatory all-you-can-eat banquet – for a snip at £600 (a lot of money now, but completely crippling then) – so this Silver Back (self-anointed) sought out the hotel manager to explain our unusual circumstances for being there and why we might be excused from the banquet.
“I’m not a city banker. I’m a stand-up comic. And not in theatres anymore. No, I’m back in the pubs.”
The manager was doubtful. He explained that it was all clearly stated in the contract that I had ticked!
I looked at him oddly. Seriously. Do I look like the sort of bloke who reads contracts?
He explained that we can’t duck out but maybe a concession can be granted – whereupon I said something that still makes me shudder.
“And we’re all really small by the way. We don’t eat much.”
A saving is won – but at great cost. What cost dignity? I should have just paid up.
This is a good snapshot of Eclipsed.
A story of a kid who never bagged himself a single speaking part in a school play but somehow finds himself appearing in movies. This is an interesting tale of itself but set against the tribulations of a highly irregular and quirky dad, Eclipsed is a funny insight into family life. An ordinary family but one amidst the frays of the craziest and most alluring business of them all.