I just love me some crazy scripts and nonsensical grammar
Happy Labor Day! Since we're celebrating a national day off of work, let's talk about how much work it can sometimes be to do...uh...work!
You know those scripts. The ones that don’t make any sense. Riddled with errors. The ones that appear to have been written by a third-grader whose cells were fused with a sloth that has been fed only large quantities of rum and forced to watch Jerry Springer on a loop.
As a voice talent, I record a lot of scripts. I’m speeding right along, and then I hit that sudden roadblock like a giant Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup. You know the roadblock I’m talking about. The one that stops you dead in your tracks because it makes about as much sense as a meditation tape recorded by Gilbert Gottfried and Sam Kinison. It’s the dreaded punctuation error. Or the grammatical error. Or the spelling error. Whatever it is, it’s the proverbial mistake for the proverbial brake.
Man I hate those script-stoppers. I hate them just as much as those online services that use “no reply” emails. Oh, so you can email me but I can’t email you back? What was I thinking: that sounds perfectly fair. I mean conversation is a one-way street, am I right? Whoops! Sorry, don’t answer that…no replies allowed.
So what do we do? Do we stop and email them to ask for clarification? Do we record both just to make sure we have all possible outcomes in the bag? Do we scream at the top of our lungs and then purge all anger through a good round of Kumbaya?
I’ve written before about receiving strange writings that don’t make sense. If you haven’t read that blog yet, do so now. Prepare to achieve a higher level of consciousness in so doing.
Lack of clarity runs through the entire voiceover spectrum. Here are some classic examples:
- Direction on scripts: “Cool and edgy, but conversational and straight-laced”. “Over the moon excited in a sort of relaxed and mellow way.” “Youthful, but with a decades-old, wise, learnéd feel.” “Natural, but forced.” “Just like Morgan Freeman, with a splash of Scarlett Johansson.” To that we all collectively say in our most mature voice: HEH?!?!?
- Directed sessions: “Do it just like you did in your audition, except totally different.” I am not kidding. I actually received this direction once, and I wish I had brought my tennis rackets just so that I would have something to hurl at them.
- Scripts that appear to have been proofread by a gerbil
- Scripts that do not appear to have been proofread at all
- Scripts that have the word gerbil in them, because gerbil is a funny word like “nougat”
- Scripts about nougat-eating gerbils who play ukuleles. Oh heck, this is just a lot of argle-bargle.
Honestly? Lots of things don’t make sense in voiceovers. Like why I, a 47-year-old white-Latino baritone male continue to receive audition notices for high-pitched 12-year-old overweight Jamaican girls with a lisp. But hey! They NAILED the overweight part, and I call that a solid match.
The most concerning error-prone scripts are the ones that come from my E-Learning development clients. You know: the ones who teach people how to properly write and speak and function? Yeah, those ones. I cannot help but be afraid for the human race, and for those who will be instructed by such learning material when those who wrote it were clearly stoned out of their gourd. God help us all. One time I narrated an audiobook by a teacher who teaches, and it was so perforated with errors that when I emerged from my studio, my face looked like that warm mix of beef chunk stew meets electrocution. I remember praying for the students who would be in receipt of such teaching, asking the Good Lord to please give them cranial strength to stave off this new threat of substandard education. Rather than narrate such content again, I think I’ll just request to be crucified.
Give me a moment as I pop in my Sam Kinison relaxation tape…
I read English goodly…but no goodly same as read you
I guess we could write a strongly-worded letter to the script writers and request that they pay more attention before such craziness is foisted upon our planet. Because…please…we’ve already been besieged by viruses and murder hornets. I think this approach could work! They would nod their head, recognize our desire for improvement with genuine appreciation, note our concerns, and then have someone read the letter slowly and carefully to them, substituting big words with small ones since apparently their own education stopped when they graduated from sippy-cups.
But it’s not their fault. The English language is WAY too hard. At this point, since there’s nothing better than a good callback – which is another way of saying “I had no time to write a completely new blog this week and am therefore resorting to recycling old material which I’m sure you’ll find utterly fascinating and life-changing” – let me remind you of some reasons why we should cut those poor guys some slack. Now throw up a Hunger Games Mockingjay salute for all the poor souls who have sadly perished trying to learn our crazy language.
- Why is it pronounced naked, and yet it’s baked? What if you got baked naked? I think you should have something baked nakedly. All of this of course while drinking a hot sake, which is spelled like naked and baked and is pronounced nothing like either.
- Every single “c” in Pacific Ocean is said differently. Those poor souls.
- How does “pony bologna” rhyme, and yet Sean Bean doesn’t?
- Why does Shawn yawn, but Shaun doesn’t yaun, and neither does Sean yean?
- Rules to learning English: Their OUR know rules.
- Can you imagine looking at the word “yacht” and not just giving up? Those poor souls.
- There is NO way “colonel” sounds like kernel. And yet if you’re addressing someone in the military why does it sound like you’re talking to popcorn?
- Queue. Five letters. But you only pronounce the first letter. *head explodes*
- Why is it trough, but yet it’s rough, and also it’s slough or through, when in fact it’s actually dough…but really it’s plough? So do you plough through the dough slough roughly in the trough? Those poor souls.
- Said is pronounced said. But wait. Laid is pronounced like paid. But uh-oh: here comes bread which is NOT to be pronounced like bead, which is not pronounced like lead, not to be confused with lead.
- I get it now. English is easy. Because it’s womb which sounds like boom. And yet bomb isn’t ALSO pronounced like boom. Makes perfect sense.
- English is hard enough (which doesn’t sound like trough, remember!), and yet we force new students to learn “all the good faith that I had had, had no effect whatsoever”. Those poor souls.
- Minute and minute are spelled the exact same.
- I’m not content with this content.
- I object to that object.
- Excuse me but there’s no excuse for this
- Someone should wind up this blog and throw it into the wind
- It sucks when I read read as read and not read, so I have to re-read read as read so that I can read read correctly and it can make sense (cents? SCENTS?!?!?)
- Finally, on a related note, if Yoko Ono married Sonny Bono, would she be Yoko Ono Bono? Or if Olivia Newton married Elton John then divorced him to marry Wayne Newton and then divorced him to remarry Elton John, would she be Olivia Newton-John Newton-John?
- *jumps off of bridge in frantic desperation*
So as you can see, it’s not the client’s fault. Does their script writing make you want to harm small animals? So what! We have one job here, people!
We should stick out our chest, read that error-riddled script, and march proudly on. This is what we do, darnit! This is our calling! We soldier through such messes, wipe ourselves off, send those recordings, and then steel ourselves for yet another barrage of our senses, hoping to God that they pleeeeeeeeease know that “y-o-u-’-r-e” means “you are", and “y-o-u-r” means YOUR!
Butt your right – who am I kidding. Their’s no weigh they will gett this won dowhn patt.
NOTE: This blog is purely for commentary / educational 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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