Classic Voice-Over Anecdote: The Endless One-Liner

Recall that I’m not just a voice agent, I’m also still an occasional voice talent too.  On that note, here is the first in what I hope will be a regular feature – The Classic Voice-Over Anecdote.  Just short tales of the trade that amuse and/or boggle the mind.   Here’s one to launch the series:

THE ENDLESS ONE-LINER

In my early days of doing voice work in Toronto, I was hired by a local radio show host to voice a one line intro to her weekly radio program. She was paying me $200 to say:

*”The Toronto Report, with Leslie White, brought to you by Sony of Canada.”

I was too new to the business to realize that when you only have one line to read – and it contains the name of the person who is hiring and directing you- there is no way you’re getting out of the booth after only 2 or 3 takes.

I did 3 or 4 takes right away and then Leslie began her expert direction.  It went as follows:

“I need you to slow it down.”

2 takes

“Can you pause between ‘you’ and ‘by Sony of Canada’?”

2 takes

“I want you to put more emphasis on the sponsor’s name.”

3 takes

“Okay, this time…try it with less emphasis on the word ‘by’ ”

2 takes

“You’re starting too soft on The Toronto Report.  It needs to be bolder.”

2 takes

“Let’s just practice saying The Toronto Report”.

5 takes

“I’d like a take where you pause more after Report.”

3 takes

“You’re not putting enough emphasis on my name, Leslie White.”

3 takes

“You’re emphasizing White more than Leslie.”

75 takes later.  She finally says “okay” and then talks to the engineer behind the glass. I can’t hear any of it of course because she’s not pressing the talkback button.  After another 5 minutes of me sitting in the booth alone in silence, with my script and glass of water, I am finally released for the day.  We meet outside the booth.

RK:  Are you sure you got what you wanted? 

(Note: This was not so much the pathetic ass-kissing attempt that it appears to be but rather somewhat masochistic curiosity about what she will say, as I concluded by the existence of 75 takes, that she likely did NOT get what she wanted.)

LW:  I’m not sure we got what I wanted.  This experience has taught me that I should hold auditions next time.

Weeks later, I received a note from her that said my recordings were “unusable” but she did want to give me $50 for my troubles.  I was on the phone within minutes, reminding her that a deal was a deal, I gave her everything she asked for, and by the way, her radio show was lame.  Alright, I didn’t actually say the last part but I did get her to send the remaining $150, despite much irritation on her part.

Possible lessons from this tale:

1)A deal is a deal.

2)Sony Canada probably didn’t sponsor her show for long (just a guess).

3)There are advantages to doing long form narration!

If you have a Classic Voice-Over Anecdote, feel free to e-mail me: roger@voiceovercanada.ca

I may post it in a future blog entry.

*This was not the real name of the woman or the show.  I actually just googled her this minute and the show is actually still going strong, it would appear.  Maybe she does her own intro now.

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