In Praise of Funny Voices

For many years my focus has been on visual and physical comedy, like that found in old silent movies.  But recently I learned a good lesson about the value of voice in a character.

One evening I went to the Circus Center in San Francisco, to watch a performance of students in their Clown Conservatory.   It is interesting to watch novice comedians, because it is such a contrast to professionals.  The pros have done their acts perhaps thousands of times.  They have everything down, and proceed with a natural ease.  The students are clearly working hard.  In that regard, none of the students stood out.  But one of them did snag my attention.  It was because of her voice.  Her voice was a little funny.  I hardly recall what she said, but the unusual quality along with her delivery and timing helped to separate her from the group.

Here is a little piece of trivia I tell my students who are choosing a clip of dialog to animate to:  the word “personality” comes from “persona”.  The root words are “per” which means through and “sona”  which means sound.  Personality comes through the sound of the character.

For animators involved in dialog exercises, like 10/11 second club stuff, I would recommend putting some serious thought into the voices, perhaps even more than what is being said.  Many dialog exercises use clips from movies, featuring regular actors with regular voices.  It would be worth finding some voices with real character.  We all have to admit that Mel Blanc was a major contributor to the success of Looney Tunes.


Wild Lines: The Art of Voice Acting by CarlStallingEnthusiast

1 thought on “In Praise of Funny Voices

  1. Great observation – any sort of contrast is really useful for character work. I love the Top Cat cartoons for that exact reason – loads of differentiated characters all with great distinct voices and bodies.

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