It has to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. You are on camera frequently and you have to be visibly responding to what someone else is doing. Yawning is out; napping is out; checking your watch is out. It’s just hard to do well.
I have thought for some time now that Vice President Joe Biden’s performances in appearing to respond to President Obama’s State of the Union speeches were Oscar-worthy. He’s not just happy and approving. He is amused, wry, anxious, hopeful. The emotional palette he uses is extraordinary.
“I have,” as Tom Lehrer says in introducing his satire, ‘The Vatican Rag,’ “a modest example here.”
This one looks like: “Whenever you start talking about presidential succession, I focus intensely. I think I am beginning to get that headache again.”
Here’s the Vice President again. I propose: Ve-e-e-r-y E-e-e-nerestink. This imagines that the Vice President knows Artie Johnson as well as other members of our generation do.
And finally, how about this one? I’m thinking: “It isn’t just anyone who can tell that joke, but you nailed it.” I am encouraged in that interpretation by the droll expression of the face of Speaker of the House, John Boehner. He would not have gotten the joke, I suppose, or would not have thought it was funny. Also, you will notice that Boehner and Biden are leaning away from each other. It’s just a visual artifact, really. Biden, on the left, is leaning to his right and Boehner, on the right, is leaning to his left. Both are trying to find a way to meet in the center. Or not.
One the other hand, Andy Murray’s girlfriend, Kim Sears, is a gifted responder as well. The best I have seen since Joe Biden. Andy Murray did some amazing work in putting Novak Djokovic away in straight sets in the Wimbledon finals, but every time Murray did something amazing, the camera panned over to Kim to see how she was reacting. She, too, needs to be fully and visibly engaged in the event. No yawning, napping, or watch-checking.
Here are some guesses about what she was thinking. I’ll make the pictures bigger because she is a good deal cuter than Joe is. Here are the three pictures I liked best along with my proposals for what might have been going on in her head.
“A drop shot? From behind the baseline? We’ve talked about that several times, you will recall.”
And for the second picture, how about: “Oh. I can wear the blue gown to the victory dinner. That will work. When I wear white, people mistake me for Kate Middleton. Or they did before she got pregnant.”
And for the third one, how about this? “This must be so hard for Novak’s Djokovic’s girlfriend.”
This is the kind of game anyone can play, as you see, so if you have any ideas about what captions to supply to these pictures, don’t let timidity or good taste hold you back.