About Me

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Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I am a Montreal-based actor, writer and comedian. When U.S. President John F. Kennedy was shot, I was three days old. I cried all day. My favourite books of all time are Moby Dick by Herman Melville, The Last Temptation by Nikos Kazantzakis and The Ewoks Fun Time Activity Book by Chirpa and Pamploo. I am a member of The Vestibules, On The Spot Improv and The Best Buy Battery Club. Except for the Battery Club, I've been at all this stuff for over 20 years. Enjoy my blog.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"He had on a hat": From Whence The Title Came

As promised, I will explain why I've chosen to call this blog "He had on a hat". Might I add that this is rare glimpse behind the curtain?

Anyone who has ever visited my Facebook page regularly, knows that I revel in a good obscure, cryptic reference. My attitude is either you're in the (usually very small) group of people who might figure it out or you are not. The origin of my wonderfully deliberate obliqueness probably lies in my professional life as a writer and comedian. In that milieu, most of the time I need to do exactly the opposite of obscure. That is to say, lead the reader or the audience carefully through each step so that people understand what the hell I am going on about. In other milieus, not so much.

So listen up, this post's a rartity, gang.

In the dead of of winter some years back,  I had a gig up in Tremblant or some such place with my improv troupe, On The Spot Improv. Whoever had booked us on this gig was on the ball enough to get us put up in this wonderfully huge rustic cottage. Actually, it was more like a cottage bordering on a mansion. The fancy accommodations were no doubt to make up for the fact that we were getting paid next to nothing for the gig.

This cottage/mansion or manttage, if you will, had a huge fireplace, a sauna, pool table, big comfy couches and most coolest of all,  satellite TV. This was back in the day when satellite TV was not as common as it is now mainly because back then a satellite dish took up half your backyard and because the monthly satellite service fees cost about the the equivalent of the annual property taxes for your backyard.

After we had taken advantage of  the sauna, pool table, the huge fireplace and comfy couches, I turned to my attention to the seemingly futuristic technology of the satellite dish.

I spent about 17 hours (subjective time) fiddling with the remote dish controls. Finally, I managed to pick up some cable outlet from the US (this was also back in the day when satellite TV was extremely difficult to operate especially when there was no manual of any kind to found anywhere).

Oh, what luck! We had stumbled upon some unknown network's Charlie's Angels weekend marathon.

Yep, all these incredible surroundings and cutting edge technology amounted to basically the same thing as watching TV off the rabbit ears in my parents basement. Scratch that. I could get more channels off the rabbit ears in my parents basement. Well, at least, Charlie's Angels fit in with the parallels of watching TV in my parent's basement, anyway.

I soon discovered that without all the raging 14 year-old hormones flowing through my body, Charlie's Angels is a really bad show.

Sadly, the episode they were running at the time was not even from the show's Farrah Fawcett peak years or even from the subsequent slightly less stellar but still respectable Cherly Ladd days. No, this episode was from the show's final pitiful last breathes of the Shelley Hack/Tanya Roberts era.

I don't remember much of the plot details probably 'cause it was so long ago, that there were plenty of ironic comments flying around the room at the time and that we had earlier discovered the manttage's well stocked liquor cabinet. All I can tell you is that the angels were trapped on an island in the South Pacific that seemed to look a lot like California. Besides that, all I remember was the the very end of the episode.

For those of you who never suffered from teenage satyriasis or were never an eleven year old girl looking for questionable role models in the late 70's,  let me explain that one of the rich undercurrents of the Charlie's Angels series was the great mystery of who "Charlie" really was and what he looked like. See, Charlie was just a voice coming out of a 1975 Radio Shack speaker phone. The rich voice (provided by actor John Forsythe, later of Dynasty fame) generally spouted out plot exposition for the first three minutes following  the opening credits of each episode. The voice would often appear again at the end the episode to make some kind of clever pun or joke relating to that week's plot (a recurring denouement pattern which I always contended that the shows producers blatantly ripped off from The Flintsontes).

The end of this particular episode took a bold risk and strayed from the usual formula. The angels had stopped whatever the hell it was the villains were up to on the island and, as the episode concludes, Jacqueline Smith is watching a boat sail away. She isn't sure who is on it. The other angels join Smith after the boat has left. Then the angels somehow figure out (did I mention the well stocked liquor cabinet?) that it was actually none other than Charlie himself on the boat!

Shelly Hack and Tanya Robert then excitedly grill Jacqueline Smith (a trouper for still stickin' with the series to this point, I might add) on what Charlie looked like. Smith answers that she only saw the back of his head. So then the other two ask what colour hair he had. Then Jacquelyn Smith dejectedly says,"He had on a hat."

Yes. That is what she said. In those exact words: "He had on a hat".

"He had on a hat"? Really? Did you seriously just say that?  Granted noboby watches Charlie's Angles for the suberb sentence structure or lack of grammatical errors. Still, though, ya gotta wonder how in the name of Aaron Spelling a line like that ever made it onto the air?

I have a pretty good idea. I've been on enough over budget, behind schedule TV shoots in my time to put together a reasonable fascimile of what may have happened on set.

SMITH: He had on a hat.
DIRECTOR: And....cut! Great. Check the gate. Moving on!
SMITH: Um, but I just said "he had on a hat".
(Someone standing next to the director taking notes nods "yes")
SMITH: Can we do another take?
DIRECTOR: Nah, I'm sure I've got you saying it right in a close-up or some of the other shots.
(Person next to director taking notes nods "no" this time)
SMITH: I don't know....if I could just do one more-
DIRECTOR: Okay! Moving on! Next scene, let's go! We're losing the light people!

Those types of actor's nightmare scenarios were still mostly ahead of me at that point in time. So instead of commiserating with Ms.Smith's predicament,  I remember spouting, "What? He had on a hat?! Really? He had on a hat! Oh, man! He had on a Hat?" ad nauseam.

The next morning over breakfast, one of my improv troupe mates asked another troupe member what time he went to bed the night before.

He responded with , "I'm not sure. I feel asleep somewhere around 'He had on a hat'!"....

1 comment:

  1. Good one, Terence! I remember it fondly and still use that quote when trying to describe someone! ha ha.