The Fun People in TV

It’s usually not worth trying to convince people that television jobs aren’t nearly as glamorous as they think. There’s inevitably a comment from an accountant who wants to convince me that my job really is more fun than theirs. What I would say, though, is that among the people I work with, I think some of the most fun people are the voice talent.

This comes up because during this morning’s commute, I was thinking about Tim Champeaux. Tim is a voice guy. Hmm. Is that like calling a Domestic Engineer a Housewife? Let me rephrase. Tim is a Professional Voice Actor based in New Joysey who saved my ass yesterday after I made a stupid mistake during my recording session. Now, being nice doesn’t necessarily qualify as being “fun people.” I do work with all sorts of niceeeeeee people. Fun is a different story.

Going back 20+ years, my introduction to voice talent was the inimitable Dana Hersey. Dana started every session the same way. He cleared his throat and said, “F_ck me, here we go.” To this day, I expect every voice session to begin the same way. I also learned the beauty of audio booth and headphones during a session with Dana, although credit for his would have to go to Eddie Hettstrom who was running the audio board that day. Dana was on the phone in the booth when the phone rang. Dana still had one half of the headset on an ear while the phone was on his other ear, when Eddie started whispering lewd things into a mic that only Dana could hear. I miss those days. LOL. Few people have ever made me laugh as hard as Dana– and Eddie on that day.

Ok, so maybe that story does help the accountant’s argument.

As I drove in today, I was thinking about how much fun the other voice talent I’ve worked with over the years has been. Tim Champeaux, lord of the NJ suburbs, amazing musician who performs in NYC and for TV soundtracks and promos. I laugh my ass off as we talk about being Jewish and his gift to look at it with humor from the outside. Jim Cutler, he of the Bingo fame! And his wife, she of the “OMG, not more Bingo, please, please Howard, I’m beggin’ ya!”

And then there’s Nick Coady, British voice of authority by day, pub crawling motorcycler by night. I worked with Nick almost daily during the 2008 election as I produced American election promos for an international audience. When the now-infamous “lipstick on a pig” scandal broke out, Nick mentioned he’d never heard such a saying “over there.” I don’t know what you would do with that information but Nick and  decided to teach each other some of the foul language of our native dialects! It seems clusterf__k is also an unfamiliar term in the motherland and I deemed it too critical to go unused in the UK. Nick and I frequently interrupted a perfectly good voice track by laughing at the sound of the other using “bolleks” or “clusterf__k” during our sessions. Nick is famously conservative but found great surprise when I told him his viewpoints sounded like John McCain, a man whose views he’d always though were quite in contrast to his own.

And I must not forget to mention Dave Kelly, also from the UK. He would be the man formerly known as Dave Wartnaby, and now presently re-known as Dave Wartnaby. Long, hysterical chats about the bars, booze and brauds of London and then the shocking departure for Africa to follow one. Braud, not bar.

I don’t know where this idea comes from– but a few voice talent I’ve worked with have expressed that they just like being normal, every day people…no attitudes, no pretension, etc. I’m not sure if they have their own picture of themselves or their peers that voice talent is the opposite of that. I have to say, I’ve really never found that to be the case. Each has been incredible niceeeeeee, and every one, good for many laughs. Brad Davidorf, Meg Lavigne, Steve Stone, Kay Bess, Brad Abel, Dave Bethel in the UK, Mark Williams in Baltimore…all have been generous, genuine, ass-saving and the people I think I enjoy laughing with the most.

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