Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Making faces

Making faces is part of my job description. It's also something I've done since I was very small. My mother and her sisters passed on a particularly nice frog face (somewhere I have a picture of the four of them as adults making this face). The face above is one I use for the baby in The ghost with the one black eye. I tried out a couple of versions, checking with audiences on which looked better. This one was most popular. I often check the facial expressions in my stories in the mirror. I also still just make faces for the heck of it.

On Monday, we had a family gathering in Maine to bury my father's ashes (he died fifteen months ago). After the ceremony, and after the bishop and minister had left, there were twelve of us hanging around Mom's apartment: six siblings, three in-laws, a niece, a nephew and Mom. We meandered onto the subject of making faces, most likely because my 21-year-old nephew was showing some of his best. He has a good repertoire of facial contortion. When he was younger, he wasn't allowed to sit at dinner where he could see his reflection, because he would make faces throughout the meal. Once I saw him making faces in the bathroom mirror. "Job skill, Willie, job skill," I said.

On Sunday, I gave a concert at the retirement community where Mom lives. The last story I told was The twist-mouth family, which requires facial elasticity. It's fun for me to watch the audience twisting their mouths as they listen to the story. This was one of my father's favorite stories, in part for that reason.

I thought everybody grew up practicing faces in the mirror. Turns out not to be true. Did you?


Tim said...

Of course I practiced in the mirror. How else can you evaluate and refine your funny faces as a kid?

Also was invaluable to teach myself the Mr. Spock eyebrow raise at the age of 11.

My four-year-old almost has it down.

Never considered it a job skill, although I hope that my face's elasticity helped with the whole acting career.

Double takes and spit takes, those are job skills for me!

Never used a mirror for those. Just work from audience feedback.

Anonymous said...

Hee, hee... yes and still do!