Doing laps in the LA Fishbowl

Voiceover for Dummies

Sometimes, the absurdities in life can be just delightful.

A few weeks ago, I had a commercial voice-over audition, a rare event, as I mostly do animation. This audition was for a national clothing chain which may or may not have mannequins as their spokespeople. I was reading for an Asian grandfather mannequin, and the audition consisted of one word: “Cable-knits!” (hee hee, that cracks me up right there.) At the recording studio, they informed me that there was to be no accent. I guess the mannequin was born and raised in America. I don’t question why an Asian guy has to read for an Asian mannequin that has no accent, because, really, why bite the (synthetic) hand that feeds you? So I go into the booth and give them about 12 different “Cable-knits!” ranging from the mildly surprised to the near-orgasmic. Some “Cable-knits!” gets a little chuckle sprinkled over the word, some get a warm frown-smile baked right in. Try saying “Cable-knits” 12 times. I’ll wait. 

 Do you really know what you’re saying anymore?
Ah, it was a good day at the office.
This week I get several calls from my agent, checking my availability and semi-putting me on hold for the spot. Excellent! My familiarity with sweater styles has paid off! Yes! Then, yesterday I got another call. The agent tells me, “The client just wants to make sure that it’ll be okay to have no accent. They didn’t hear any, but they just want to make sure.”
Now, this is transportive in so many levels. Okay, so they didn’t hear any accent in the audition, but… they want to be sure I don’t have one? One that they didn’t hear? Hmmm… Perhaps they’re afraid it will suddenly spring out at them, a form of dialect Tourettes. Coiled inside every Asian-American is an inner Mr. Miyagi, just waiting to bust out…

And then, there’s my agent (a friendly fellow) who is impelled (compelled?) to call just to make sure that I’m comfortable not speaking in an accent that I don’t have. I love Los Angeles. I tell him that, while a little New Jersey sometimes slips out from time to time, I think I’ll be okay speaking dialect-free.
Unfortunately, this giddy ride ends here. Later that afternoon, I get released for the spot. Apparently, they decided to go with another guy with less of an accent than the one I don’t have. Or maybe the Asian mannequin didn’t test well, and they couldn’t use me to voice a mannequin who wasn’t Asian. Who would believe that mannequin! It would be absurd!
Ah well. I guess my North American Mannequin dialect needs a little work. I’m off to the mall, then, where I can learn to speak as the locals do…

November 18th, 2010 - Still Life Las Vegas


5 responses to “Voiceover for Dummies”

  1. Doug Wood says:

    Maybe they were talking about your gay accent?

    A thought. A cruel, internalized homophobic thought.

  2. noelalumit says:

    They probably picked up a lisp?

  3. Anonymous says:

    The slight hint of Jackie Chan was inevitable.

  4. Joshua says:

    Hello. I apologize for asking this somewhat unrelated question, but would you happen to have any idea when Kung Fu Panda: Legends Of Awesomeness is going to premiere? I kept hearing that it would premiere this year, but this year is almost over. One of the directors told James Hong that it would premiere in either December or January, but if that were the case, wouldn't Nickelodeon have started promoting the show by now?

    A recent press release stated that the series wouldn't premiere until FALL 2011. I hope that's not true. You work on the series. Do you have any idea which date is closer to the truth?

  5. james says:

    All of you are evil and I do not have a lishp.

    "Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness" has had a lot of premiere dates. We thought it was going to be late summer of this year, then it got pushed to the fall, and the latest word is that it was going to be January. So I'm afraid we're in the dark too. We've done ADR on a bunch of episodes so the eps are ready… my guess is there's some jockeying between Nick and Dreamworks on how best to position the series and the film sequel coming out in May.

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