Voice impressions: It’s all in the delivery

Posted: 06/14/2013 in FLOO-G Goofs Off
Tags: , ,

I describe myself on my Twitter bio as a mediocre voice impressionist.

I’m good enough at it to make people laugh, but I’m at no point where I could be a professional voice actor – though maybe a coach might tell me otherwise if I ever met one.

I can do Krusty the Clown’s trademark laugh OK but can’t get his speaking voice right.

Nonetheless, I have a few that are winners.

My construction boss cracks up at my impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger: “GO! RUN! Get to za choppa!”

Just last week, an old classmate from journalism school I met up with giggled at my impression of an impression: 1980s-era Eddie Murphy impersonating Bill Cosby in his classic stand-up film, Raw: “I would like to talk to yooooou… aboooout some of the thiiiings… that yooooou do in your SHOW.”

And one thrash metal guitarist I know (presumably jokingly) wrote on my Facebook that he would follow my impression of Metallica frontman James Hetfield if I ever took it on tour: “YEAH! YEA-HAH! YEAH! SogimmefuegimmefiagimmethawhichIdesiahhh OOOOOOOOO YEA-HEEHHH.”

Still, I think of impressions as a pretty low form of comedy most of the time – it’s a cheap and easy laugh you can get out of people without putting much effort into writing original jokes. I remember watching episodes of Last Comic Standing and people who resorted to Schwarzenegger impressions during auditions wouldn’t make it further.

But hey, if it makes your buddies laugh when you’re out drinking and there’s enough liquid courage flowing through your veins, then why not have some fun with it?

Seldom do I hear an absolute, spot-on, indistinguishable-from-the-real-person impression from even the most successful of comedians. What matters is the delivery; have a reason to do it.

For example, unless you don’t mind awkward stares, you wouldn’t bring it out of nowhere. Wait for some conversations like discussing favourite movie scenes and those sorts of topics.

And when you do your impression – and it really does help – visualize the character you’re impersonating in your mind. It is acting, after all, so try to be that person.

Start by repeating some of your favourite lines from their respective film or TV show. Pay particular attention to how certain syllables of the character’s words are delivered.

Just one word of caution for you lushes out there – don’t fall into the trap of thinking you sound better when you’ve been knocking back a few, odds are you don’t or just sound the same with a slight slur.

Your vocal range and tone is unique, so try sticking to characters within that range. Doing high-pitched squeal-ish voices seem to make my throat hurt after a while.

If you have a few voice impressions that you can pull off quite well, leave me a comment, I’d like to hear from you.

Here are a few more of mine I can somewhat pull off.

• Yogi Bear: “A-hey-hey. What do we got here in this pic-a-nic basket?”
• Mario: “It’s-a me, Mario!”
• Smeagul/Gollum: “Preciousssss…”
• Hank Hill: “Bwaaaaaaahhh!”
• Lieutenant Dan Taylor: “They gave YOU… an imbecile; a moron who goes on television… and makes a fool out of himself… in front of the whole damn COUNTRY… the Congressional Medal of Honor…”
• Don Pardo: “It’s Saturday Night Liiiiiive!”
• Vito Corleone: “I’ll make you an offer that you won’t refuse.”
• Comic Book Guy: “Worst. Episode. Ever.”
• Duff Man: “Duff Man cannot breathe. OOOOOOH NO!”
• A 1980s-era California surfer guy: “Gnarly, dude.”
• Metallica’s Lars Ulrich: “Hey, Flug. F**kin’ what kind of bulls**t f**kin’ impression of Hetfield was that, huh?”

WATCH: The Man of 101 Voices, 101 More Voices and 101 More…er Voices (it’s all the same guy).

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