Tuesday, September 27, 2005

 

Sketch Comedy in Russia

I got home about 2 hours ago after spending about 10 and a half hours acting in a Russian sketch comedy show called Filiet or at least it sounds like that. The scene was about a Russian grandmother called Baba Nurie who would marry Chinese men so that they could get their green cards for 1000 rubles ($35). They could pay extra to consimate the marriage. I and a polyglot from Cameroon played employees of the Guiness Book of World Records who wanted to record her record setting 1000th marriage. Another polyglot from Kyrgyzstan played the latest Chinese husband.

It was a lot of fun. We started the day at a dacha about 20 km. from Moscow. We spent half the day outside riding on a horse driven wagon shooting lines and various angles approaching the dacha. The Russian actor who played the wagon driver was so good he fooled me into thinking he was just a hired hand who was taking care of the horse. The second half of the day was shot inside with Baba Nurie and her Chinese husband serving us borsch while she described her scheme and the fact she had a beautiful granddaughter who wanted to go to London.

The humor was very stereotypical. I had performed in one other scene for this show and it involved some Russians who lived in America going on a picnic and imbibing and then being brutalized by a New York City police officer. I played the police officer. The idea being that America is such a stuffy, unfun place that if you open a bottle of vodka outside you will be arrested. Ok, this is pretty close to the truth. The scene we shot today had the Englishmen as being shocked by the primitive conditions of rural Russia, overly polite, and befuddled. The Chinese man was subserviant and constantly smiling. The Russian woman was clever and a survivor. I don't begrudge Russians choosing to highlight the positive in the Russian characters on their TV shows. Of the few Russian sitcoms I have watched and understood there are no weak, stupid men which is quite a difference from the U.S. I just wish they were a little more enlightened in their characterizations of other nationalities. Oh well, it is comedy and somebody had to get hurt. Maybe they will discover husband bashing.

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