…and become a better Storyteller!
Got a kid? No? Get a kid.
Ever read a story to a child? They’re merciless critics. Merciless. They scrutinize you and size you up and down for a coffin before you even flip open the first page. With their beautiful baby blue eyes and adorable cheeks, they look up at you with watering eyes, pleading to you in all their untainted innocence: “Will you fulfill all my hopes and dreams in this telling? Or will you smush them to ooze and I’ll ultimately need to kill you with a sippy cup?” No pressure.
Think you have what it takes to be a natural storyteller? Pfffft. You don’t – unless of course you’ve ever been privileged to engage in….. *cue trumpets* Storytime!!!!! Do you have a kiddo? Two? Three? A flock? Ever babysat? Ever babysat a flock? Now that’s just downright weird. But you’ll be ok: just make sure and bring your shepherd’s crook and you’re fine. Otherwise, make like Michael Jackson and Bleat It.
Who are the great storytellers of children’s tales? Easy. Picture Will Ferrell in Elf talking about how he went through the Magical Candy Cane forest: “I passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then I walked through the Lincoln Tunnel.”
Picture Peter Falk in The Princess Bride, and how he held Fred Savage spellbound: “Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind. The end.”
Picture Marilyn Manson in “This is the New Sh*t”: “Are you motherf*cking ready…for the new sh*t….”
Hmm. Let’s strike that last one and just go with the first two examples for now.
The point being that in voiceovers, we all have to be effective storytellers, and you haven’t become one unless you’ve passed through the fire and brimstone of testing….with Bedtime Stories 101.
Bedtime Stories 101
If you claim to be a Voiceover Artist but don’t know how to really wow someone, to hold them spellbound, then you’re not a voiceover artist. Wow us. As Elaine Craig Voice Casting recently posted, “Choose a delivery that makes us feel like you know something that we don’t.” And “The most compelling reads let the listener hear – and feel – the actual message; not just the voice.” What great quotes! I especially love that first one.
Picture the sidelong glance at the child while delivering something with eyes wide open, filled with wonder. The ooohs….the ahhhh’s…the suspense…the magic…the mystery! The enormously deflating feeling when your preschooler says you’re doing it wrong and then goes and has mommy do it instead, because she’s not a voiceover artist and you suck, Dada. Ahhh! Such tender affirmation. You think you’re a good Voiceover artist? Try reading this stuff to a kid. Unless you’re prepared to insert random gasps and “Oh My Goodness!”es every five seconds, I’d resign now and turn in your mic and your badge, because if not, a storyteller you are not. I hear there are fry cook positions opening up. A bit greasier job, but Gasp! Oh my goodness! Such delicious fries.
Sure, I’ve covered this before, but it’s my blog and not yours. So I’ll cover it again. My preschooler won’t let me do voiceovers. I swear, no matter how hard I try, I am NOT….ENN OH TEE NOT…allowed to engage in any British voice whilst reading him A Froggy Fable. It is forbidden, don’t you know? Oh what malevolence is unleashed within the walls of our home when I do try. I’ve learned it’s safer just to sleep next door. The neighbors are starting to demand rent and I don’t understand why they’re so unreasonable. The police seem to always side with them too. But I keep doing it, so I’m writing this blog on pencil and paper and hoping that my secretary will post it properly to the website since I’m not allowed internet access in jail. They told me I’ll be out of here by 2083 with good time. Fingers crossed.
It’s a hard and fast requirement in Bedtime Stories 101 to do the story THAT THE CHILD WANTS and in the voice THAT THE CHILD WANTS and at the time THAT THE CHILD WANTS IT. Why do I use caps? BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THE CHILD TALKS. You might observe that I pepper my blogs with stories about my demanding preschooler. GET USED TO IT!!!! Bubby wants what Bubby wants, how and when Bubby wants it, and I must simply pray to the God of Patience to encircle me with an impenetrable wall of preschooler-proof zap-shield, which conveniently reverberates back any yelling and amplifies it 26,381 times. TAKE THAT, KID.
A Sound Proposal
Wow. Amazing stuff, and potent to the ears, mind, heart, and soul, those bedtime stories. There is a HUGE list of them in our home, and they’re all waiting to come to life as I sit down in the big chair-that-eats-people and have my kiddo on my lap, complete with blankie, sippy-cup (uh-oh), E.T. doll, and Dada-judgment-mode fully engaged:
- I’m Big Enough
- Llama Llama Red Pajama
- Where the Wild Things Are
- A Froggy Fable
- Lightning McQueen StoryTime
- Dori & Friends
- Wemberly Worried
- Good Night Dinosaur
- Good Night Moon
- Good Night Seattle
- Good Night Ocean
- Good Night Son of Mine Why the #%!& won’t you just go to sleep I’m missing This Is Us (ok I made this one up)
But wait, there’s more!
- The Pokey Little Puppy
- The Shy Little Kitten
- In With a Splash
- The Light in the Attic
- Where the Sidewalk Ends
- The Biggest Thing In The Ocean
- Pout Pout Fish and the Big Big Dark
- The Velveteen Rabbit
- What is Poop?
- The Adventures of Daniel Tiger
- The Snail and the Whale
- Leo the Late Bloomer
- Nibbles: The Dinosaur Guide
- I Love You Forever, I Like You For Always
Now, you know you just said “Oh maaaan…” out of pure nostalgia, having read the name of a book you cherished as a youngling. Please, sir – put the shopping cart down, and slowly back away from Amazon. We all know what you’re ordering.
But you know what I mean. You hold that story near and dear to your heart. Llama Llama Red Pajama IS the Bible to you. It’s precious and sacred. You want and deserve that story to be read perfectly. Kiddos are no different. Just because you’re not fresh-out-of-diapers doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still have the best. Your diaperless clients are the same. Unless of course they’re still in diapers, in which case may I suggest a new line of work for you? You’re clearly giving them diarrhea from your lackluster performance.
So! I have a proposal. I’ve invented a new way to make money. Here it is, and I’ll expect your approval by the morning.
Don’t have kids? No problem. For the bargain price of only $499.95 a day, I’d like to rent out my child to you so that you can improve your performance in the studio. You don’t have to do anything! He’ll just sit and watch you and scrutinize your performance while you sweat profusely. I'd bring a spare change of clothes. And diapers. For you, not him. Wherever you command him to sit, I assure you he’ll be good and cooperative, and he’ll listen and make sure you’re doing a good job. He’s not very demanding. He shall require only:
- three Costco containers of Goldfish crackers
- fifty-two juice boxes
- nineteen fig bars
- twenty boxes of Cheerios
- six hundred and twenty three fruit snack packets
- thirty Annie’s Mac-n-cheese’s (note: NOT Auntie's! *See prior Blog*)
- ninety-seven containers of Kirkland Signature apple juice regulated at precisely 58-degrees and diluted with water, and
- a plentitude of Pixar movies on a large screen somewhere nearby. He doesn’t need the volume up, which would doubtless impact your performance; he’s got all of them memorized anyway.
His name is Brennan, and he will serve you well. Trust me, you’ll want to return him promptly at 8pm, so there’s no overnight stays needed. I shall require a minimum of a 5-day commitment, so that I might finally visit the Spa and hunt small things which will allow me to diffuse the parental rage within.
This is an easy and sound proposal. It is doable, accommodating, specific and a scientifically-proven way to increase their literacy and your performance ability. But also, it's a perfectly logical method of obtaining a child and not ending up in prison. So please – rent my child. Your clients will thank you. By the end of the week, your performance will be impeccable!!! You will reach a brand new level of storytelling, and your delivery will be so immeasurably refined!!! They won’t be able to measure it!!! Uh, yeah...that’s kind of what I meant by ‘immeasurably”. Please try to keep up.
You’ll reach new heights in oratory skills and performing!!! What do you mean, “What does oratory mean?” Come on. Really? What’s wrong with you? Why are you so tired? Have you been renting a kid all week? Get some sleep and START TELLING THE STORIES CORRECTLY!!! And please…no Marilyn Manson. We only allow our kiddo to listen to that on Saturdays when he comes to see me for visiting hours as we touch hands through the glass pane. Jail sucks. Stupid unreasonable neighbors.
HEY! WAIT JUST A S.E.C.!!!
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Seattle Voice Actor & Voiceover Talent for hire
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