The Hokey-Pokey Voice Talent


"FICKL" by ♔ Georgie R is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0


Put your Whole Self in, why don't you?



There is no Try

Yoda Fountain at the Presidio, San Francisco

"Yoda Fountain at the Presidio, San Francisco" by sw77 is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


You know him.  You love him.  He is small and green, and frankly, adorable.  I am not talking about Regis Philbin.  I am referring, of course, to grown-up Yoda.  It does discombobulate me some that we now need to clarify between two different Yoda's.  In this instance I am not referring to Grogu, aka Baby Yoda.  Now that there are two, frankly, it steals a bit of the true Jedi Master’s thunder.  But I digress.

Yoda is known for many things.  For example, he is known for having a penchant for riding on Luke Skywalker’s back while Luke is trying to work out in Dagobah, which is very uneven terrain.  He is known for stealing cheese sticks and lamps.  He is known for backward talk. He is known for incredible acrobatic lightsaber skills that are generally atypical behavior exhibited by green muppets.  In short, he should not be allowed to be a Jedi Master due to delinquent behavior.

But Master Yoda is also known for one of the greatest adages to ever hit humanity.  Here again I am not referring to “Dude, you’re gettin’ a Dell”.  I am rather referring to his wise sage axiom:

“Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.

It is a phrase that has adorned coffee mugs, T-Shirts, bumper stickers, and lunch boxes since the days of Peechee folders.  Come on now, all you 80’s peeps, who’s with me?

Like Peechee folders, this maxim brings about great memories.  Unlike Peechee folders, it brings suggestions of disorganization and lack of motivation, because it speaks to those of us who are fickle. Indecisive. Inconsistent. Capricious. Vacillating. Unpredictable. Erratic. Nit-picky. Fussy. Unfaithful. Frivolous. Unreliable. And every other Thesaurus word that Shift-F7 just gave me.  Microsoft, I thank/Shift-F7/acknowledge/recognize/show gratitude to you.

When Yoda said “Try not”, he was urging Luke to stop believing that everything amounted to an attempt.  Instead, he was encouraging him to put his whole self in, not put his whole self out, but put his whole self in.  And moreover, to shake it all about.  He was encouraging Luke to do the Hokey Pokey and turn himself around, because that is what it is all about.

In voiceovers, you must not try.  You must do, or do not.  There is no try.


Toes in the Water

Duck Hokey Pokey

"Duck Hokey Pokey" by shouldbecleaning is licensed under CC BY 2.0


Too many voice talent stick their toes in the river, get a feel for the temperature, and then run squealing from the shore when they find that the situation demands that they acclimate.

I understand this, because if I pour a bath and realize the water is too cold, I instantly become the shocked consistency of magnesium, and scatter away shrieking like a giant girly-man.  Do not judge me.  We have one of those doohickeys (that is the technical name) attached to our water spout that, when marketed to me, made it seem that the color would react to the water temperature and I would therefore know if it was pouring hot or cold.  This was not the case.  When the device is blue, red-hot water the temperature of lava comes out, and when it is red, water that appears to have just melted off of an asteroid in the cold of space comes out.  Such devices are programmed to lie, and facilitate my transforming into a shrieking giant girly-man.

I digress yet again, but what else is new.  Endearing rabbit trails are my specialty.

I am confident you are already aware of this, but the average cost of a cosmetology education runs anywhere from a low $5000 to a chop-all-my-hair-off-or-give-me-a-mohawk-and-call-me-Cindy sky-high $20,000 price tag.

I am not kidding. If only more people knew.  Why you would not pay twenty thousand dollars to make an average of twenty-eight dollars a haircut is simply beyond me, and I think laws should be enacted that would make this part of required education.

In contrast, the average startup costs for a voice talent today is perhaps around $2000.  This includes:

  • A microphone that is not labeled “Tonka
  • Extraneous cables that are not labeled “Mattel
  • Acoustical treatment of your studio space, that is not stamped with “Fisher Price
  • Headphones that do not have “Nerf” foil-stamped on the side
  • Speakers (aka reference monitors) that are not emblazoned with “Lego
  • Software to edit your audio that is not labeled “V-Tech

To be sure, the Hokey Pokey Voice Talent does not like such costs, and will balk at anything over five cents in expenses.  Be that as it may, it still stands as one of the most affordable lines of work to venture into, provided you’re prepared to actually stay in the river.  The river can be swift, and the current can be sudden, but if you’ve taken swimming lessons and you’re prepared to ride that wave, then one day you can bump off the likes of J. Michael Collins and steal all his lobster.  I would not suggest attempting this prematurely, as I am told that he wields power from another world.  The man does not sleep, and has a lobster army encircling his fortress day and night, equipped with rocket-launchers and laser-guided tracking. Use caution.

Hokey-Pokeyers do have a tendency to naysay the demands that any entrepreneurial pursuit may place on them, because ultimately, they are expecting free handouts and unmerited or unearned stair-steps.  I encourage you to shake it all about and see what falls out of your pantlegs, because this approach will surely hamper your upward mobility.

One thing that a Hokey Pokey voice talent does not relish is marketing.  As a freelancer, it behooves you to use words like behooves.  It also behooves you to reach out to prospective clients.  Why, if I did not take the time to reach out to prospective clients, then I would not have received this intriguing response just this morning in my inbox:

Hello!  Thanks to you for reach out.  My rooster is sadly a bit empty at  the moment.  However, be that as it may (which I am fairly certain means “however”), I will be glad to add you to my rooster of voiceover talents.

I am not joking.  As you can imagine, this response excited me, because, to date, I have not been added to any farm animals in any respect.  This exciting prospect should make any Hokey Pokey talent crow with excitement.  ba-dunk...tsssssshhh....


What It's All About


"Commitment" by eschipul is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


So I ask you.  What if the Hokey Pokey truly IS what life is all about?

Do we dance around the flame?  Do we hover at the ledge?  Do we pause after the gun goes off?  Do we vacillate before saying “I do”?  Are we supposed to dip our toes in out all the time?  Or do we jump in with both feet and let the current sweep us away in the grandeur of the flow of accomplishment?

The answer, of course, is “Bottle Caps Candy”, because this is always the answer to any question I am asked.  Here are some examples to demonstrate my usage:


Wife: Honey, what would you like for dinner?

Me: Bottle Caps Candy.

Wife: Do you know where our children are?

Me: Bottle Caps Candy.

Wife: Don't you love me anymore?

Me: Bottle Caps Candy.

Wife: What would you like me to wear for our date night?

Me: Bottle Caps Candy (this one worked out nicely!)

Wife: If you say Bottle Caps Candy again, I'm leaving you.

Me: If you leave me...I will die..........................

......without Bottle Caps Candy.


I appear to be digressing all over the place.

But the answer, of course, is: THERE IS NO TRY.

In order to hit a target, you don’t kind of pull the trigger.

You don’t almost loose the arrow from the string.

You don’t knock ‘em somewhat sleepy.  You knock ‘em dead.

Fellow esteemed Voice Talent, I hope and pray that you fully commit.  That you give it your all.  That you run with great abandon in this fantastic race, and that you reach the finish line.  That you put your whole self in and you shake it all about, which strikes me as a bit of dancing – which you can only do if you let yourself be afflicted by a massively compelling rhythm.

I am not talking about Gangnam Style here. [ Editorial: Yes I am. ]  I am actually talking about the rhythm of a sound voiceover business, which can be yours for the bargain price of under $2000.

Put your whole self in today, and you’ll be cutting voiceovers for more than $28 each in no time.

Hokey Pokey GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY



NOTE: This blog is purely for commentary / educational / entertainment purposes.  I make no money from these blogs; though I do not refuse large cash gifts if it means I can pretend I'm a church.


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Joshua Alexander
Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Artist for hire
[email protected]

30 thoughts on “The Hokey-Pokey Voice Talent”

  1. Shocking that a hairdresser has to pay so much for an education – though also not really. I wanted to study visual arts at a certain place and at the time, it was R75,000 (at that point ~$7500) per year – excluding project, software & hardware costs (which could add another 10th to it)… Obviously, we did not go that route, lol, and no, I’m not talking about the quality of my work, HAHAHA!

    It really does take commitment and really wanting to do it to get yourself over to that desk to do the doin’. Well worth it at over $28 a pop, LOL. 😉

  2. I can attest to the fact that once I really focused and put my entire self into this persuit is when things started to move.

    VO is far too competitive to be something dabbled in with the hope you might “break in.” Nope.

    Just do it.

    Hrm, that last bit sounds familiar. Can’t seem to place it. Oh well.

    Thanks for the insight, Josh!

  3. Oh so True.

    There is no trying (oh I guess you could and waste your time and money)

    Its simply a case of DOING …..

    Thanks for the reminder and insight, Josh .

  4. Josh! The value of this blog cannot be overstated…I had no idea F7 would provide me with all the synonyms I could ever need!!! Who has been keeping this secret with you?

    But semi-seriously, thanks for the continuous foot on my back, which is always needed and much appreciated!

  5. There is no trying in voice over, I’m fully committed to this now I just need to try and balance this between a full time job and voice over And keeping wife happy.

  6. Dude! The Peechee folders!!! I had to look at the reference pics to see the pic of it and remember what it was…but once I saw it I was like OHHH YEAHHHHH!!!! LOL! I’ve definitely seen the differences on my end between going in halfway vs running in at full speed and just plaowing through all the obstacles. Those obstacles will be there, like speed bumps. But if we go in strong we can run those over at full speed with our monster truck tires on, and barely feel them. We can’t come in with fear that will cause us to slow down and maybe even stop at the little speed bumps in our journey! 🙂 Another great blog, my friend!

  7. Is there a Fivrr for cutting people’s hair? I’ll cut people’s hair. But I’m not going to promise much at the $5 level. If you want it to look good, that’ll be $50 and probably six hours of me “fixing things.”

  8. Great post! Taking to heart, my friend! Watched you on the Marc Cashman webinar for the third time today and have reached out to bunch of new people. Thanks for keeping me motivated!

    1. You are motivatedly welcome, my motivated friend! Glad I could help. Just try to not trip over when I looked stupid, which was nearly the entire session and of course through my illustrious flop of a demo. 🙁 OUCH!

  9. I cut my daughter’s hair myself once, when she was about 6. She is now 16 and STILL talks about how dodgy that haircut was.

    It wasn’t even that bad! It was fine! Just wear a hat, child!

    So, lucky I grew up and became a voiceover artist instead of a hairdresser, I guess.

  10. Cock-a-doodle-way-to-go!! On the addition to your fine rooster list, I mean. And on your Bottle Caps endeavors as well!

    Is that a Bottle Cap that you’re using to navigate your whiteboard’s weekly voiceover count, by the way? You know there’s only one right answer to that question, lest ye suffer the wrath (wreath) of Master Sludgeworth.

  11. As I ponder the intentional dance references here, I am taken to a time when ‘Mowing The Lawn’ and ‘The Sprinkler’ were not shunned upon as mere foray’s and (“OMG! Dad! Please! NO!”) moments on the dance floor. Instead, an engaging and captivating sequence of moves meant to utterly hypnotize the targets of our affection.
    Nay! ‘Do’in the Bird’ and ‘Humpty Dancing’ were examples of our prowess! A crescendo of mocking replaced by utter amazement with a culmination of the ‘Flashdance’ water bucket scene!
    This industry we are in is not unlike this at all. We wait on the side lines, the outer limits of the dance floor, waiting to be picked! Or perhaps, floating in and amongst the crowds… hoping our moves will be accepted and we, my new dance partner and I, will beak away from the crowd to dance to our own beat! Yes! Yes, Casey Kasem I do want to experience this! (“Like.. jeenkies man!”)
    The dance floor is VO, and we are all dancers. But you’ll never have a private dance, if you never set foot on the floor! I get it!

    1. Very good, good sir! And I know you’ll know what I’m saying when I say….ZOINKS!!!!! Nice reply. And your knowledge of dance moves has skyrocketed my Paul-Matthews-Respect factor to Level 327.

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