Friday, November 30, 2012
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.