Read, or enjoy the audio version below...
Are your Voiceovers worthy of an Encore?
Used by permission from jurvetson via Creative Commons
Children Who Are Aerial Are Best
Last week I wrote about launching my sons into the air in our backyard pool. This is my favorite new rigorous exercise short of walking through a spiderweb and being chased by a bee. My son, Brennan, loves being launched through the air, only to emerge, sputtering. And while wiping his eyes free of chlorine and of course all the urine that escaped him as he was propelled 600’ up in the air (I have been exercising, remember), he will gleefully exclaim, “Again! Again!”
When I wrote "Again! Again!" a week ago, I knew I had an instant blog topic. It was as if I was mining for water and I suddenly hit oil. I know this because I am a generally oily individual, having Latin roots. So I know oil when I see it. Please note this down in the Joshua Alexander Fun Facts File: "#37: Very oily Latino who apparently feels the need to mine for water even though a faucet is readily available.”
And you should have suspected I would write about this topic next, because you, dear reader, are apparently just as astute as I am with these things. Let me guess: you ALSO take Epsom salt baths with candles while listening to Kenny G, amiright??? Unless a vagrant has broken in and stolen all of your bath carpets and mats. I know - I hate rug addicts too!
I will see myself out.
Taking My Bow
I am going to revisit one of the most Oscar-winning performances of my entire life.
I once found a book of matches in our junk drawer when I was about 7, which as we all know is The Age of Deception. And, against The Rules, I lit a match, purely out of curiosity. Oh! Also because of the burgeoning arsonist within me. Realizing instantly that I had committed The Thing That Should Not Be Done, I put it out, and tried desperately to wave the smoke away. In an instant, The Sentry was upon me.
I am talking about my mother.
You see, Mother Units are robot sentries who are always present, and come equipped with Smoke Detection and The Hand that Spanks. There would be no escape this time; the smoke still lingered in the air as I saw her veer into view around the corner, nostrils flaring. She raised her blaster and shot a laser fire hole clean through my guilty conscience, asking had I indeed lit a match???
I warmed up my vocal cords, did my plie, cleared my throat, and raised my arms outward in gallant theatricality and said:
“Well, you see Mom…stammer stammer…there must have been a matchstick on the ground...shuffle shuffle...near the matchbook that was...stammer stammer...perfectly aligned with the strike strip, and when I...shuffle shuffle...walked on it, it must have somehow clung to my shoe and...stammer stammer...lit itself as I walked across the matchbook.”
I am not kidding. That was my well-crafted spur-of-the-moment defense, and I would really like my Oscar now please, thank you. It is about 40 years overdue - but it's fine! I promise I won't slap anyone on stage. I then asked to be excused from the interrogation so that I might flee to the Island of Tristan Da Cunha and live there, forever free from robot sentries. I am still here to this day, but am scheduled to return when politics become moral.
It was a performance, albeit a bad one, and I did not in fact receive an encore. I received a spanking. At least, I think I received a spanking. I don't want to talk about it.
When my son surfaces above the waterline in our pool, I get a swimming ovation. My performance was more than satisfactory. In fact, it was so exemplary that I have been asked to repeat it. And, being the strong, loving father that I am who protects his children and would die for them, I prepare to hurl my son across the pool with a mighty love and thunder that would rival Thor‘s. And, in a few moments, Brennan will again resurface and demand that I re-engage this process for as long as there is life in me, sunshine over our pasture, and feistiness coursing through his arteries. Which will be always.
It got me thinking, do my clients want me to do a repeat performance? Have I ever received a standing ovation? Am I worthy of an encore?
Sure, there are those directed sessions where you are called upon to repeat one word 87 times, and then the same word 326 more times “for safety.” You know, because, silly me: I completely forgot to record the first 87 takes. So, sure, let us do another 326 more for safety. I don’t really have to be anywhere until 2056.
But that is not what I mean.
I love Thom Pinto’s coaching directive: “Give a damn.” Three words. It is quite a simple directive, really. Actually care about what you are reading. Give a damn! Have you ever given SUCH a damn where the client wanted you to do it all over again, because it was Just. Too. Good? I am talking just-too-good as in:
- the hot-stone massage that you do not want to end
- the bottom of a carton of sherbet ice cream that comes too soon
- the last day of a tropical vacation
- The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, which, thankfully, has SIX different endings to stave off the inevitable.
But, as with The Lord of the Rings, you can rewind (do people rewind anymore?) and play it all again. Encore. The performances; the soundtrack; the effects; the sweeping panoramas; the epic battles; the iconic lines – all of them are worthy of a standing ovation. Of an encore.
Here is the thing. I assume you have been waiting for the thing, so here is the thing. This is the thing: the root of an encore begins at the audition phase. When I deliver a voiceover audition, I need to utterly believe in what I am reading. Those lines need to come from my heart; my soul; my gut. I want to make such an impression on them that they will have no other choice but to cast me.
Being cast is The Ultimate Encore.
In his book, The Voiceover Startup Guide, Chris Agos describes how voiceover coach Bill Lloyd once said, "auditioning is the job. If you get invited back to actually record, fine. That’s gravy. But auditioning is the job.”
We have to treat each audition as the paid job. Unless you give a damn, your audition will not get you that encore, and you will never hear the sweet sound of “Again! Again!”
Unless of course you spend a sunny Saturday afternoon poolside at the Alexanders of course. But that doesn’t pay much.
Learn this! Ruminate on it! Apply it! And then go home and put on some candles and Kenny G. I am telling you, it does wonders: you get to relax AND light matches…without even getting in trouble! Win-win.
YOU HAVE MADE IT ALL THE WAY TO THE END, AND I SALUTE YOU.
- Like this blog? My children are counting on you to put bread on our table through the purchase of one of my books. Do it for the children.
- If you would prefer not to purchase one of my books but instead hurl large wads of cash at me, please know that I do not refuse such cash gifts if it means I can pretend I am a church
- Check out my whole UNIVERSE of blogs right HERE!
- This is a fourth bullet point.
AND HEY! WAIT JUST A S.E.C.!
- S-UBSCRIBE & S-HARE!: If you enjoyed this blog, please consider subscribing and sharing with friends and family, and encouraging them to subscribe and share. Offer treats for doing so.
- E-NCOURAGE: Go encourage someone else today with a single, simple sentence of affirmation. Tell them, “I like your earrings”, unless of course they are manly men, in which case you should compliment them on the size of their chainsaw.
- C-OMMENT: I want to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below! Comments with lots of “You’re wonderful” or “You’re the best” will receive instant approval and acclaim.