Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Cabotin - A Tragic Actor

Cabotin, Ham, Cabotine
To connect Conan Doyle's name to this tat with a possessive apostrophe is a crime


Noun. Feminine cabotine. Plural pronounced same. Early 20th century.
[French = strolling player, perhaps formed as CABOTAGE, from resemblance to vessels travelling from port to port.]

A third-rate or low-class actor.

cabotinage noun the life and behaviour supposedly characteristic of third rate actors. L19

Behind every truly terrible film, behind every wooden line and expressionless face, every forced laugh and synthetic smile, behind all of these is a personal tragedy - the tragedy of a little boy or girl that wanted nothing more than to act, to translate and interpret those lines and emotions to the silver screen, to excite and move audiences, to stir emotions and fire imaginations, and to see their name roll on the closing credits as audiences cheer and clap and marvel at the subtlety of their nuanced performance. But it wasn't to be; it could never be. And for one simple reason: these cabotins suck at acting. Like really, really, really suck. Like they're awful. Like so awful I can italicise, bold-print and underline awful and still be understating the case: they're just awful.

To try and get a perspective on just how woeful these chaps are, they make the likes of Keanu Reeves, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme look three-dimensional - yes, they are just that bad, appearing in such abominations as Ninja Squad and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (see clips), and frequently found late at night, besmirching such cable channels as TCM (which I'm convinced stands for Totally Crap Movies). So the next time you see a cabotin, the next time you point and laugh at their inability to portray anything even close to resembling a human emotion, just remember that little child, that little boy or girl that not so long ago tugged at their mother's skirt and said (in a flat monotone): "Mummy, when I grow up I want to be an actor."

Are you a cabotin or cabotine?

Do you enjoy the "work" of a cabotin?

Who do you consider to be a cabotin?

Do please ham up your comments in a tragically inept manner below. 


  1. That Ninja clip is one of the funniest things I've ever seen. Thanks, Ed.
    You can tell usually tell a cabotin by the background music the desperate director has plastered all over the place to try to disguise the fact that his leading man has the hair-raising charisma of a slightly mouldy suet pudding. In a queue for a public convenience. In Hove.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Sally. But as you're laughing, do remember that child : o )

  2. The Sherlock Holmes movie looks GLORIOUS!!!! What doesn't it have?!

    1. ... talent, plot, drama, *any* redeeming features, *anything* to do with Conan Doyle or Sherlock Holmes.

    2. Like dinosaurs. And flying robot-dragons. Awesome!

  3. Please, please, tell me you've heard of The Room!


    You have to watch the whole movie. It's so unbelievably bad that it gets special screenings around the US.

    "You're tearing me apaaaaaaart Lisaaa!"

    1. What? No, Evi - you just don't get it. That's the exact *opposite* of what I'm talking about. When that guy said that line, "You're tearing me apaaaart, Lisaaaa!" ... wow ... it was like I was really inside his head, inside his heart ... his acting took those words and transferred them from his heart to mine. Just for that one moment on screen, it was as if we were one soul, sharing one pain ...

  4. I'll give those actors one thing - they are entertaining.
    Maybe not the way they want, but I was amused!

    1. In truth, I've probably watched that ninja video more times than any other vid I've linked on Lexicolatry.

      It's just so intense!

      (and I love how they have 'Ninja' written on their headbands - just in case there's any ambiguity as to what they are)