Freudian Slips: Commercial Break

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Location: Irony, New Jersey, United States

Life takes us many places. It's a box of chocolates and a Hansel and Gretal trail of candy wrappers. I have filmed as an actor in The Happening, Invincible, The Lovely Bones, The Bounty Hunter, The Greek American, Bazookas, Limitless, TV's Its Always Sunny in Philly, Outlaw, New York, The Warrior, The Nail, Game Change, Cold Case, & commercial work includes The Philadelphia Eagles, Septa, Coors, Turbo Tax & Carnival Cruises. Freudian Slips spotlights irony in short story format.

August 17, 2006

Commercial Break

- Joe Tornatore in action.

The following is a paid commercial endorsement.

Last month, my casting company invited fifty background actors onto a closed set to audition for a commercial. For shits and giggles, I accepted the invitation and auditioned with no prior experience or expectations. I understand that standing behind a camera and having judgment passed is not everyone’s idea of a good time. It surely is neither my forte nor career choice. If I had something tangible to lose, maybe this audition would have been intimidating to me.

A steady procession of wannabe actors filtered in and out of the waiting room carrying their acting portfolios and pearly whites. When my turn arrived, an assistant used an erasable marker to scrawl my name on a giant cue card. As she handed me the cue card, my groping fingers smudged off the last syllable of my last name before the ink dried. So what was left of Joe Torna followed his escort into a small conference room. I stood on a mark answering questions into a rolling camera with simultaneous television playback capability to head honchos of a production company. My part ended after about seven minutes.

Weeks later, a telephone call placed to my home informed me that I “won the audition.” Forrest Gumping my way through life got a continuance. On the day of the shoot, I reported to an azalea garden in the park behind the Philadelphia art museum. At the picturesque backdrop, two crews fashioned different sets with a small makeup station situated in between the two places of business. One set shot B roll without sound and the other set displayed the makings of an outdoor movie set. I am not a slow learner but when you tell me I won an audition I don’t expect to find other actors on my set. In reality, a handful of other actors made the final cut for the commercial but sharing the pressure to perform only relaxed me more. Little did I know, juggling actors would become the order of the day.

Handshakes certified the introduction of cast and crew. A pen is plunged into my hand and I sign the straightforward contract on the dot. After the lovely makeup girl finished setting my hair and powder puffing my face, I moved to the next station to get sound miked. I struck up a conversation with another idle actor, who I recognized from the movie set of Invincible. Deep in my pant’s pocket, my cell phone rang to a prophetic X-Files ring tone. I lacked the gumption to answer it because it felt inappropriate to take a cell phone call on the set while being paid handsomely by the hour. Besides, the actor in my company offered distraction by engaging me in conversation about the first time he met actor Mark Wahlberg. After three rings, my incoming call was history. A minute later, a cell phone rang only it was not mine.

“So Wahlberg comes over to me and….I better take this.” interrupted the actor. “I am expecting an important call.”

When I heard the actor's end of the phone conversation, irony acted for itself. He replied with glee to his caller. “Yeah, I can do that commercial!" he beamed. "Okay, I’ll check my email tonight for specifics. Thanks.”

As if were replica actors, his cell phone returned to a pants pocket. Then he sheepishly informed me of the irony I should come to expect in my life. “I just got in on the Center Ice commercial. It’s shooting tomorrow.”

I countered, “Hey, what a coincidence. I got an invitation to do that commercial. I expressed interest but never heard back. Wait a minute.” I reached deep into my pocket and retrieved my cell phone. The caller ID revealed that my most recent call came from my casting company. I speed dialed them right back. The oddity of landing a spot on a television commercial while filming a television commercial still swirled in my head.

“It’s Joe Tornatore, returning your call. I suspect you called about the Center Ice commercial and let me just say that I can do it. Sign me up. Where do I report?”

“I’m sorry, Joe. Bad timing. I just filled your role literally a minute ago.”

“Did you fill it with an actor named Chuck?”

“Yeah why?”

“Chuck is standing right here in front of me. At least today, we are doing a commercial together.”

Freudian Slips might call that a commercial break.



Blogger PaxRomano said...

I just love the coincidental phone calls (ah the power of Marky Mark)...but more than this, watching your showbiz career unfurl is tonic for the soul!

And now, a stage name, "Joe Torna". I like it, it's got pizaz, it'll look great in lights, and it will not be mispronounced on Academy Award night by Halle Berry!


12:20 PM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

To think I got my name from a smear campaign, I dunno.

4:48 PM  
Blogger Merci said...

Hey, can I get your autograph now? It might be worth more if it I got during your pre-fame days!

12:25 AM  
Blogger Merci said...

Oops. Make that, "...if I got it...,"

12:26 AM  
Blogger Maja said...

Aw crikey, what a terrible coincidence!

5:05 AM  
Blogger Joe Tornatore said...

check any back page sign off sheet of client files and head for copy machine without further ado.

that is show biz in a commercial break. glad you are back. so what is up now that you quit the circus?

10:46 AM  

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