I'm not sure how I missed this, but my good friend Barry Funkhouser interviewed me on his podcast nearly a year ago...and I thought you should hear it. I tell some stories about how I first got started doing voices as a kid. The impressions have been a long time comin! Enjoy the conversation.
Recently, I decided to talk about some things that I thought could be helpful for other aspiring voice actors starting their careers in voice-overs, whether it was showing how I approach auditions, or just walking them through how I voice a disclaimer tag for a commercial. So my new goal is, when something comes up that I think would be of any remote benefit or interest to other people desiring to be voice artists, or anyone pursuing voice-over work, I'm going to write it down, and when I'm able, make a video about it. Here are just a couple. This is also a teaching moment for me...a lesson in attempting to be more vulnerable, and show my process, warts and all.
Look, I will tell you, there are LOTS of guys impersonating Trump. Lots. Believe me. And I've been doing my impression since May of 2015. I happen to think it's "Tremendous"(see what I did there?). But recently, the people at TV Insider--namely Dan Clarendon--compiled a list of the top 10 Donald Trump impressionists ranked from best to worst. I came in at #2. Not a bad, finishing second to Alec Baldwin, and just ahead of Darrell Hammond?! I'll take it!
Voice impressions have always seemed to hold people's interest for entertainment. And if you can do good celebrity impressions, they can take you far. I started doing a voice impression of Bill Clinton in 1992, and haven't looked back! Although I have added some age to Clinton's voice, since it has changed over time. Making adjustments to your voice impressions is necessary as time passes. And while Hollywood celebrities are fun to impersonate, I personally believe the Political impressions are the most fun. They get refreshed every 4 years, so there's lots of opportunities to learn new voices, and perfect old ones, based on who's trending in the news. A big thank you to TV Insider for including me on their Donald Trump impressionists List.
I had a nice surprise last week, when Mark Thompson, formerly of Mark & Brian on KLOS and "Mark in the Morning" on 100.3 The Sound in Los Angeles, called me up and asked me if I'd like to join him on his weekly podcast with his lovely wife, Lynda. Without hesitation I said "of course" and we planned for a Friday call(9.13.19) in to M and L Studios.
We began our conversation with President Trump chiming in about the Democratic Presidential Debate that aired the previous night on ABC. Some laughs followed. We covered a couple other topics in the news. Then I did a few other voices. Then Mark talked to me, as ME, which usually happened at the end of our phone bits we used to do on 100.3 The Sound(which we both miss very much). It was great catching up with him, and hearing that familiar laugh of his. He has always been generous to me--with compliments, and giving his airtime to plug my work. I'm forever grateful Mark!
I thank each and every one of you for visiting my website and in some cases, reaching out and hiring me! I hope you're looking forward to 2019 as much as I am. Here's a montage of calls I've done as Trump to various radio stations around the country--and World(Australia). Happy Holidays Everyone! Oh wait, Trump won the war on Christmas...Merry Christmas Everyone!!
Recently I caught a Television ad from the Michigan Lottery that I helped voice last year at this time, and it's making the rounds again here in Michigan--which is a good thing for a voice actor--that means residuals! I provided the voice-over for the Nutcracker and his fellow soldiers(they start after the snowman speaks at :09, and again at :18.5). Here is the ad I'm speaking about. It's promoting their holiday instant games, better known as "scratch-offs". Happy Holidays everyone!
Recently I was selected to be the brand voice for McLaren Health's new advertising campaign, which will be seen and heard throughout the State of Michigan. I am beyond thrilled about this, and I look forward to getting into the studio for the recording sessions! There is one thing I know to be true: The voice-over business is very competitive. And like many other voice actors, there have been times where I have gotten frustrated over how many auditions come along before I've gotten an actual booking. It's human nature to feel that way and to question things. But time and time again I tell myself what my former instructor, Cynthia Songe used to say--"It's Selection, NOT Rejection!" If you continue to stay positive, practice and keep your skills sharp, and audition with intention, good things will eventually show up. The McLaren ads are coming very soon. But I also voiced some demos for McLaren late last year, which may have led to my getting chosen. You can watch the demo spots here:
Watch the actual TV spots below:
These are the TV commercials(:30 & :60 versions)that are currently airing throughout Michigan. It's interesting to see the changes that were made from concept demos to the final theme of the campaign.
After Eminem's a cappella freestyle cipher aired during BET's Hip Hop Awards, it was only a matter of time before Donald Trump responded, right? Last Friday, October 13th, "Trump" called up The Cruz Show on Power 106 in Los Angeles, and clapped back with a rap of his own. Okay, actually it was just my Donald Trump impression on the phone, but after so many twitter wars, we can only imagine what Trump would say to Eminem. Here's how the call went down:
Recently I was selected to voice the TV advertising campaign for Big Boy Restaurants. It's currently airing throughout the state of Michigan. I provided voice-over for two separate :15 commercials. Very upbeat and fun. It's always a good day as a voice actor, when you're able to book a voice job with such an iconic American restaurant business. Here are the 2 spots I mentioned below. They run back-to-back in this video.
I had the great pleasure of pranking a radio host in Australia with my John Travolta voice impression recently. I have been working with Southern Cross Austereo's Triple M 104.9 in Sydney for over a year now, doing Donald Trump call-ins for their morning show, "The Grill Team". Great group of people: Gus Worland, Mark Geyer, Matty Johns, Emma Freedman, and Chris Page. They knew I did other voice impressions besides Trump, so they asked if I would call and pretend to do a real phone interview with Gus as John Travolta. "JT" was recently in the news for deciding to retire his personal Boeing 707 passenger jet, and donate it to the Sydney area museum of the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society. You can watch the video below to see and hear how it all went down.
Update: Travolta Prank 2.0!
So, my friends Torg & Elliott at QFM-96, a Show in Columbus that I frequently call up with my Trump impression, heard the Travolta prank I did in Australia, and thought that would be the perfect voice impression to prank their news woman, Kristie Kemper. As you'll see, we definitely turned up the awkwardness level a lot. She has talked about watching the Leah Remini doc series on Scientology in the past, and since Travolta was in Ohio shooting a movie there, and the John Gotti movie in Cincinatti, it was the perfect reason to have him on, and then confront her about watching the tv show that bashes Scientology. Here's how that phone prank went down:
President Trump celebrated his 71st birthday this week, on the same day it was reported that he is being investigated for possible Obstruction of Justice. Tough to enjoy your cake with all that going on. I had several opportunities to do my Donald Trump voice impression on the radio. Here are just a couple of them: The Mitch Albom Show on 760 WJR in Detroit, and The Steve Cochran Show on Chicago's Very Own, 720 WGN:
While we don't know the answer to that question for sure, the people at Jungle Jim's Bar & Eatery in Newfoundland, Canada would like to think so. They had me do the voiceover for their TV and Radio campaign. I voiced a guy who sounded similar to our 45th President. "Make Wing Night Great Again" was the heart of the promotion.
I wish we lived closer, because I need an excuse to try the wings, along with the deep-fried pickles...not to mention the 34oz. "Normie" Molson beer they serve there. More like "Make My Belly Great Again"! Sounds delicious. If you're ever up in St. John's or in the Maritimes, look them up. They are tremendous. Believe me.
When you do voice impressions for a living, you kind of know going in that the chances meeting, or even speaking to the people you impersonate are highly unlikely, rare at best. But I have to say I've had some memorable experiences on my journey doing celebrity voice impressions. My time in radio has afforded me some great opportunities to not only meet famous people, but carry on conversations with them, sometimes as them or the people related to or who work with them.
There was the time I spoke with longtime Tonight Show sidekick Ed McMahon as Johnny Carson:
The time I spoke to Regis Philbin as Regis:
The time I spoke to Casey Kasem as Scooby Doo:
More recently I talked to Hillary Clinton as Donald Trump & her husband, Bill Clinton. They are rare opportunities, but when they happen, they're magical. They are moments on the air that I'll always cherish.
Today I added to the collection of those moments, when I was offered a chance to surprise former Late Show with David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer, using my voice impressions of Dave, and Paul himself. Check it out:
President Donald Trump is spending a fourth consecutive weekend at his Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida. The "Winter White House" continues to serve as his weekend Presidential Post, to the dismay of West Palm Beach residents. Some reports say that Trump's Mar-a-Lago visits are costing taxpayers millions of dollars. I can't really do much about it, other than create a parody song in honor of Mar-a-Lago. Have you seen it yet? I invite you to watch, have a laugh, and share with your friends: