Don't Be Funny When You Voice -
Be HILARIOUS! And Really Be Heard
By Tom Edwards
Actor, Voice Talent & Comedy Writer
Demos 4 Dummies
“The only thing worse than knowing you are going to be the focus of everyone’s attention is … knowing that you are NOT going to be the focus of everyone’s attention.”
So sayeth that guy who wrote “The Importance of Being Earnest Hemmingway.”
After all, it is the voice-over artist’s greatest fear; the terror of knowing that hundreds, perhaps thousands or millions, of people could be listening intently to your every word and possibly deciding that their time would have been better put to watching an apple core biodegrade in the dirt.
As an actor, I have too often watched directors very clearly switch from interest to apple core in a blinding second. Or even worse, that I was in fact the apple core and “why in God’s name did they have to watch me biodegrade on their stage?”
HEARD, NOT HERD
So, to be or not to be ...
To be distinct and beloved to all - especially to your director because he’s the idiot who hired you – here is some advice.
1. Break into voice-overs by being noticed.
I actually don’t know how to do this, but I do know how to break into a house WHILE being noticed.
You take a big sledgehammer and just go Hulk on the back door. It’s a fast "in" but it means grabbing bread, cups and silverware because that’s all you have time to steal before the owner attacks you with his own sledgehammer and the neighbors and the cops show up.
2. Be original.
Well this is really simple. Just think of something who nobody has ever thought of before!
Call yourself “Erstwhile on the corner of 5th and Ableton” and talk in a combination voice of Bugs Bunny and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
If that doesn’t get their attention, just go Hulk on them with a sledgehammer. Better to get their attention than NOT to get their attention.
3. Make clients remember you.
Make Clients Remember You!!! MAKE CLIENTS REMEMBER YOU!!!!!!
YELLING … sorry ... yelling and constantly reminding the person you worked for quite a while ago that you’re still alive will make them remember why they hired you.
If you go overboard on this, though, they might realize they were an idiot for hiring you and turn you into an apple core. In which case, my best advice is to biodegrade.
4. Spend your time and money wisely.
Buying a client or director a new pair of shoes worth three to five hundred dollars will cause general excitement in them to near sexual heights.
The feet are the pillars to the … upper body, which, oddly enough is where …YES, the voice box is! Tickle their tootsies and you tickle their vocal chords. I’m not making this up. Really, it works.
Also, grab your - or someone else’s - video camera (see #1, how to break into a house), and videotape yourself practicing voice-over pieces and trying really, really hard.
After five minutes stop the camera, put teardrops in your eyes and restart the camera.
Pretend you just had to stop it to compose yourself but started up again after a while of really, really trying. Now cry uncontrollably while practicing your voice-over exercises and voice-over pieces.
Make this recording 30 minutes long, no less, and drop the DVD into all your clients’ mailboxes with a genuine “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” covering on it.
If they don’t watch that, they’re heathens!
5. Get an Agent, cause you’re gonna need one.
You will need someone to be in collusion with, to lie about your abilities to get you in the front door before you resort to Hulking out.
If the Agent doesn’t work, then pretend to be an apple core and wait outside. When the client comes out the back door to go to the garage, tackle him or her and tell them there’s a crazed voice-over artist in the area.
Then take the client inside and lock the door. There. You’re in!
SCHTICK WITH IT
In conclusion, I would like to say that focus, strong goals and tenacity are your best friends in this business (as well as some brilliantly executed lies).
And by the way, the guy who operates the website demos4dummies.com has some funny ideas that might get you noticed by those clients and directors we all so desperately need. For it is better to be noticed than to be biodegrading in front of the whole world. Thank you, and good voicing.
- Erstwhile on the corner of 5th and Ableton
(The voice of Barnold Schwarzenbunny)
Tom Edwards is an actor, voice talent and comedy writer who also runs Demos 4 Dummies, a business that provides voice actors with comedy scripts to apply to their demos. “Comedy is a great way of showing off your personality to producers and directors and just about anybody, really,” he says.