When I first started learning about voice over, many…ahem..many moons ago, I had just finished studying theatre at a conservatory in New York City. I had a lot of acting tools, but little experience in acting — onstage or behind the mic.
I loved comedy and would go see shows at Upright Citizen’s Brigade, a popular improv theatre started by Amy Poehler, amongst others. Totally enthralled, I watched as actors, totally unscripted, improvised scenes on stage. I developed crushes on a couple of actors just because they made me laugh so hard I considered wearing diapers to their next show. And I enjoyed it so much I started taking classes there myself.
It was nerve wracking at first. We would do improv exercises and say whatever came to mind, encouraged to take creative risks. Sometimes, I would make other students laugh, and many times, I would not. The joke that flew into my head and out of my mouth crashed and burned like an 80 year old drunk pigeon from the sky. I was a little embarrassed when it happened, but then gradually became less so. The fun of taking creative risks was worth the failed attempts. It freed me up and let me focus on the discovery part of acting and not trying to control the delivery. The freedom to fail has been one of the greatest gifts to me as a voice actor.
Fast forward to today, and I use improv with my copy. Whether it is a commercial or an explainer video. I can take a look at it and improv around the copy, adding my own words or jokes. The more I do it, the more interesting or unexpected acting choices pop out of the cake for me, covered in icing and without shame.
I don’t keep the improv in the final audition or job anyway, unless I know the casting director or client loves and wants a little improv. I just use it to connect to the copy and make the client’s message feel more like it’s my own. Like it’s coming from me and not a piece of paper. It’s another tool to keep it all fresh and interesting for me.
So, if you’ve been mulling over that improv class at your local theatre…maybe give it a go. I’m pretty sure you will survive. You may even thrive! That last improvisation was brought to you by Chuck E. Cheese’s World Wide Day of Play. That’s a thing right?Tags: comedy, funny, improv, voice over
Categorised in: Blog
This post was written by Simone Stevens