Friday, November 30, 2012

If You Ever See Me Coming Down Your Chimney, I'd Like Chocolate Chip Cookies And Milk, Please



My hair used to be red; bright orange, really, but that distinction doesn't matter so much now that most of it is gone. Anyway, what remains has become lighter and lighter as the years have passed. It is now a mix of blondish gray with definite traces of white.

Ever since I realized that it would one day be nothing but the color of freshly fallen snow, I've had a desire to be Santa Claus. I figure why not put the white hair to good use making children happy? Once I've reached the point where both my beard and the surviving hair on my scalp are totally sans pigment, I'll eat myself fifty pounds jollier, buy a fur-trimmed red suit, and get a posse of elves.

Meanwhile, I had some practice for my future avocation. I was the voice-over of Santa Claus yesterday.

I don't talk about my work too often here because most of it is rather mundane. The voicing I do is generally low profile stuff. You'll hear me on the telephone, mostly. If you get put on hold, you might hear me telling you something about the company you're calling. If you hear a melifluous baritone telling you to press one for this, or press two for that, it could be me. I'm the guy in the recorded message telling you the latest rates at your bank or when the next showing of some movie will be happening at your local cinema. But today was different. Today I was Santa.

The script was all of five lines. There was a "Ho-Ho-Ho!", then I mentioned elves, I asked kids if they'd been good this year, and I asked them what they wanted for Christmas. I think it will be used on a phone service where kids can call in and record their lists.

The thing is, it wasn't as simple as I thought. I figured I'd go into the studio, knock it off in one take, two at the most, and be spectacularly happy with the result. Instead, I listened back and felt the inflection was a bit off. I went back in and did a couple more takes. The pacing was all wrong. Back in. The timbre was too much like a used car salesman instead of a fat old man who gives out toys. I attacked the mic once more. Nothing sounded right. I went back and did Ho-Ho-Ho from my gut, from my sinuses, from the back of my throat, in a basso profundo, in a baritone, in a tenor, with a warble, while smiling, while laughing, while physically holding my belly as though it were a tub full of jelly, anything to try and achieve the general merry tone I thought it should have. I listened back and heard takes that sounded like Mister Ed saying, "Merrrrrry Christmas, Wilbur!"

I spent over an hour in the booth reading those five lines.

The thing is, somewhere in the far corner of my subconscious I had what the Santa Clauses of my childhood sounded like. No matter what I did to read the lines, all I could hear was me and not Santa. By the end, I had to pass it on to another producer for editing because I just couldn't tell if what I was doing was any good at all. I had totally lost confidence in my ability to judge my own work. She took the voluminous files I handed her, pared them down, and sent the client the best takes.

So, I'm Santa, somewhere, on some phone system. Holidayriffic!

I'd give you some of the outtakes to listen to, but I'm not sure where my stuff will be playing, for whom it will play, or anything of the other particulars, so I don't want to take the chance that my good work will be undone if the slip-ups and curses were to circulate anywhere. The last thing I'd want would be for some kid to be thinking of me as Santa and then stumble upon a recording of me saying, "Ho-Ho-Hooooh-What-The-F$%@!". And I can't give you the good final take, either, because it's the property of our client.

(If I find out where it's playing, I'll let you know.)

Here's the next best thing. I came across this magnificently funny video on YouTube that pretty much sums up the same experience I just went through. Enjoy!






Yup. That's EXACTLY how I felt by the end of my time in the booth. If I never play Santa again, this experience will be the reason why.

Soon, with more better stocking stuffers.


39 comments:

Sandy Kessler said...

I want to see Pointy

Mariann said...

That is too cool! I want to call you up when you find out what your number will be. :)

Mariann said...

Poor flustered Santa. ROFL

haphazardlife said...

Dear Santa, you know that car? Can it fit in a sleigh?

Ami said...

Thanks for making me smile this morning as I head out the door to work. :) I'm visualizing someone in a sound booth gesticulating and trying 100 different ways to avoid sounding like Chester the Molester or Joe the Corner Grocer. ::Snicker::

My dad (72) plays Santa every year for a holiday charity bazaar. I don't think he has practiced the ho ho ho thing. :)

I have a photo from last year of my mother sitting on Santa's lap.

Cricket said...

That vid was (bad word) hilarious... I so get it, too.

Michelle H. said...

Video won't load for me. Could you drop me the URL so I can go there for a look?

So our jolly Suldog got to be jolly Santa. The world is now complete. (Well, I'll hope you'll win the next powerball- then the world will truly be complete)

Michelle H. said...

Never mind about the URL. It finally loaded (stupid slow broadband!)

Craig said...

Some years ago, at the Christmas Eve kids' Mass, someone had the bright idea of having me dress up as Santa ('cuz, you know, I have certain, uh, portly tendencies, and I have a beard, even if it isn't white yet), and leave some gifts for Baby Jesus in the manger, and then I sang something-or-other (I honestly don't remember what; I think I've repressed the memory).

After Mass, I had to go home and wash all the cheesiness off myself. . .

joeh said...

Trying to figure out what Santa sounds like with a Boston accent.

Suldog said...

Craig - They has SANTA deliver gifts to Jesus at Mass? That sounds like an episode of South Park.

JoeH - I'm afraid you'll have to keep wondering. The reason I'm an announcer is because I've trained myself to NOT have a Boston accent.

Craig said...

Well, it was at least an egregious mixing of metaphors. . . Or, you know, something like that. . .

Chris@Knucklehead! said...

Joe H, probably something like, "I've pocked the sleigh on da roof and now I'll fill ya staw-kings with holiday chee-ah."

Anyway, the concept of Sully Claus is mildly disturbing, but I'm sure you'd be a great Jolly Old Elf.

And Elf Posse? Great name for a rock band.

Pearl said...

Very nice, Sully!!

Pearl

Craig said...

@Knucklehead - Would that be closer to 'pahked', or 'pawked'?

And, you know - Elves, Insane Clowns. . . (*balancing hands*)

lime said...

ok, loving knucklehead's dubbing of you as sully claus. and that video was a stitch.

in other holiday news, my darling daughter gave me a beautiful poinsettia and i am already feeling very bad for it as my particular brand of horticultural incompetence is already making it suffer. i doubt it will have the long life your beloved pointy had. i t's tragic really.

Suldog said...

Lime - The best tip I can give concerning keeping a poinsettia alive is to NOT overwater it. They contract root rot that way, and once it sets in it is pretty much irreversible. Make sure the pot it's in drains well. Wait until the soil dries before giving it more water.

Uncle Skip, said...

I had a thought.
Then I read Knucklehead's comment.
Yup, Sully Claus and the Elf Posse.
Heck, that could be a good name for a softball team...

Buck said...

That vid needed a strategically-placed F@$K in it. Or two. But it WAS funny.

In re: the accumulation of light blonde hair in old age. I skipped the winter beard for the last two years out of vanity but decided to put it on this year, hoping it would come in all white... err, light blonde. Alas, my chin STILL has a healthy crop of red. I need to figger out how to get that to the top o' my head. And NO "Just For Men" jokes, if you please.

GreenJello said...

Not even one little uploaded HoHoHo for us to listen to? Pretty please?

Suldog said...

GreenJello - Nah. The only way it would sound like anything would be to either put the outtakes there or the entire finished production. I can't do either because of the reasons I listed in the piece.

Really, though, if I can find out where it's playing, I'll let everyone know ASAP.

Stephen Hayes said...

I may never say Ho...Ho...Ho...again. Pretty funny though.

Jenny Woolf said...

I laughed out loud at that clip, and I don't usually laugh out loud. Wonderful!

It reminds me a bit of the Orange cinema adverts. the aim is to get people to turn their phones off during the show. Slogan: "Don't let a mobile phone ruin your movie"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOslvxWfKu8

Thanks for this post. It cheered me up!

Jackie said...

Poor Santa...I loved his first ones...his smile...and felt so bad for him that he had to keep on trying when I thought it was perfectly wonderful at first.
I, too, laughed out loud throughout the video...expecting Santa to throw off the earphones and just "fa get about it" before it was over.
I can't wait for the links to where yours is playing...expecting another smile, of course.
(Didn't realize that one could train oneself to not have a Bostonian voice. Don't think I could do it with my South Jawja accent. It would take a lot of training for one to not know where I'm from . (Pardon that ending preposition.) ) :))

Uncle Skip, said...

I had another thought... but it's gone, too.

I gotta just comment before I read other comments.

I wanna see that Joan Ofark movie about the cheerleaders.

Suldog said...

Jenny - That's great stuff. Thanks for the funny!

Jackie - For Bostonians, mostly just a matter of remembering to keep the "R" sounds where they belong and also not put them where they don't belong. There are other small nuances, but that's the main thing. I still revert to my natural speech patterns once in a while (playing ball or whatever) but when announcing NEVER (not NEVVAH).

Hilary said...

I'm sure you've more than earned your milk and cookies. And I think you'd make a great Santa.

Barbara said...

That was hilarious! Poor Santa - and poor you! If you ever find out where you're playing, please let us know!

The Broad said...

"Sully Claus and the Elf Posse" is the best evah! That clip of dear Santa is priceless. It's not only the 'ho, ho, ho's' that get ever more dire -- it's the deterioration of his demeanour (or is that 'demeanah' that is riveting to behold! Hope you come up with a clip of your honourable self doing the honours...

SueAnn Lommler said...

Hey...I want a Lexus, a diamond ring, Fendi cologne...and...and...and!!
See? You are him for sure
Merry Christmas Santa...chocolate chip?
Hugs
SueAnn

messymimi said...

If i find you coming down the chimney, i'll leave fruitcake instead of cookies.

Also, if you ever do find yourself with a white beard and looking even the littlest bit like Santa, watch out for small children in public places. They will be eying you, wondering if you really are him, so give them a smile and a wink. One older gentleman i knew who had the white beard and hair overheard a little girl, a few days after Christmas, tell her mom that Santa had just ignored her, and realized these kids really thought he was the man, incognito, watching out for next year.

Maggie May said...

What a picky lot!!!!!! Taking the fun right out of Christmas.

Bet you make the perfect Santa. Come down our chimney any time you want!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Suldog said...

Mimi - I'd like to think that the last thing I would ever do is disappoint a child in a situation like that. If I ever grow the white beard, I'll even stop cursing in public :-)

King of New York Hacks said...

Hysterical, lots of HO HO Ho 's here in NYC LOL

Lora said...

Ha! Awesome.

Karen said...

Haha... that was funny.

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Kat said...

Okay, I'm crying. That video was so flippin funny. Poor Santa. I love how his coat is open at the end and you can see his long underwear. HAHAHA!

It must be intimidating to play the big guy. Pressure!!! I bet you did beautifully. I wish we could hear it!
Now every time I'm on hold I'm gonna think you're talking to me. ;)

Jeni said...

I'd have to agree with Maggie Mae -very picky lot there! And, if that had been me (thankfully, my voice hasn't dropped to quite that deep a tone -not yet, anyway) I definitely would have done more than shoot confused and irritated looks at those giving the directions! Probably would have given them a little salute.