The Voice-Over Panel was, without a doubt, one of the more unique panels of RI Comic Con 2013. At the time of the event’s start, Larry Kenney (Thundercats, Count Chocula) Phil LaMarr (Futurama, Family Guy) still working his way up to the hall. Rather than delay the event, the announcer began introducing the actors that were ready to go.
One after another, Jeremy Shada (Adventure Time, ParaNorman), Zack Shada (Wizards of Waverly Place, Batman: The Brave and the Bold), Alan Oppenheimer(Masters Of The Universe, Transformers), and Dana Snyder (Code Monkeys, Aqua Teen Hunger Force) made their way to the table at the front of the room. As they waited for Kenney and LaMarr to arrive, the group fielded questions from the announcer, which ranged from the mundane to the absolutely absurd. To try to preserve the feeling and humor of the panel, we’ve transcribed the Question and Answer portions of the panel.
Alan Oppenheimer: I’m sorry, what?
Dana Snyder: You should sit further away from us, if at all possible, too. You’re not quite far away enough! (audience laughs)
Announcer: My first question is “What came first? Doing impressions for you, or creating your own voices?”
Dana Snyder: Was that a question for me?
Announcer: It’s for everybody! But I’m looking at you!
Dana Snyder: Well why are you looking at me?! Well, okay, like in an impression sense?
Announcer: No, when you were starting out.
Dana Snyder: Well, when I was little, I used to get out of being in trouble in elementary trouble because I would do, I was like however old you are when you’re little kid. Whatever you are, I don’t know. Five, what are you in elementary school? Six years old, or something? Well my principal William Morer at Sierra la Claybert1 Elementary School. I would get out of trouble because I would do, I had a John Wayne impersonation and a W.C. Fields impersonation and, here’s the twist, also a Mae West impersonation. Each of the impersonations were only one line, and I would do them. And then he would, like, bring me up to his office, and hten laugh and send me back to class for whatever I was in trouble for in the first place. So impressions! (audience laughs)
Jeremy Shada: Ah, well, I mean, for the most part Finn’s pretty close to my normal voice, so I guess I just kind of started doing that. But I mean, the impressions thing and whatnot comes farther down the line. For instance, “HWOO!” You know, (audience laughs) that stuff happens way later on. I like doing impressions of fellow voice cast-mates, too. Like, for instance, Tom Kenney and the Ice King. (impersonates Tom Kenny) Gunter, what’re ya doing?! (audience laughs)
Alan Oppenheimer: You know, I started doing impr-, excuse me, that’s an early impression! I started doing impressions when I was very young. I could do Bogart and Jack Benny, and ah, (impersonates Humphrey Bogart) Bogart, he was kind of like that, you know? (Impersonates Jack Benny) And Jack Benny, I did, too! Ah, complete with the take! (Resumes Normal Speech) But then I got into cartoons later on in life, and when Skeletor was created, he was not a comic villain at all. He was just a straight villain, but I have a hard time doing villainy without some humor. So I did it the first time, and ad-libbed some humor, and then they began to write it, and Skeletor turned out to be a comedic villain. (Crowd Applauds)
Dana Snyder: (looks at three attendees leaving the room) Those three guys think they’re being applauded for leaving! (Audience laughs) Give ’em applause anyway, for getting out of here. Yeah, I see you guys! Don’t sneak out of here! (Audience laughs) Oh gosh, you can stand up, don’t worry. Okay, leave. Go away. Alright. Gettin’ real in this panel!
Zachary Shada: Well for me, I guess, yeah! (Female Audience Members Cheer) My brother was my biggest fan, it’s great! Yeah, when I started, I used to love doing impersonations. Honestly, one of the biggst ones that I loved doing impersonations for was Lord of the Rings. (Females cheer) Let’s see. (Impersonates Gandalf) Ah, Legolas, give the man… You shall not pass! (Females cheer, audience applauds)
Jeremy Shada: Way to steal the panel there, Zack! Jeez!
Zachary Shada: And I’ve been doing voice over ever since!
Announcer: At which point for all of you did you realize you could actually do this as a career?
Zachary Shada: Well, I never made money doing Lord of the Rings impersonations, So… (laughs) Ah, yeah, when I started doing auditions, and I don’t know! Once I got a job, I was like “Oh, I actually make money doing this,” even though my parents were like “taht’s a stupid profession!” (Audience laughs)
Dana Snyder: Yeah, I guess once you get your first paycheck, that kind of makes it a lot nicer! “Oh, I get paid for this!”
Alan Oppenheimer:: I’d like to interject something here, what you were saying. One of my first auditions was at Hanna-Barbera for Scooby Doo. And my wife drove me over there becasue I had a knee operation. And she sat there, and Joe Barbera said “well this is a talking dog. Can you do that?” And I was (impersonaties Scooby) Well I guess I can! (Resumes normal speech) And she drove me home, and she said “is this what you do for a living?!” (Audience laughs)
Announcer: So, when you guys are taking on a role, when you’re developing a role, do you go in there, to your audition with a character you’ve already developed? Or do you get feedback from the producers and develop the character at that point? Or is it a combination of both?
Jeremy Shada: It really depends!
Jeremy Shada: (Off-Mic) Some characters, you develop over time. As you play them more and more, and they kind of get more and more levels to them, and they really grow. (On-Mic) Oh, sorry! They grow over time, and some of them, from the start, you just kind of know what’s going on with them.
Announcer: Like Dana, I read that you received a phone call, and you were Master Shake after that.
Dana Snyder: I, I what? I have terrible hearing in here!
Announcer: I read that you had received a phone call, and by the end of the conversation you had become Master Shake.
Dana Snyder: Oh! Whoever wrote that was a liar! (laughs, Audience laughs) I auditioned, no, I auditioned! Over the phone, I called them on the phone! And then they somehow erased it before they- wow! Ironic that at a voice-over panel, two of us at least do not know how to ue the mic! (Audience laughs)
Jeremy Shada: You’re not the only one!
Dana Snyder: Yeah! This table – our table section here, we’re, ah… but yeah! They erased it, and I had to call back again the next day, and do it all over again. And then they erased it again. This is how Adult Swim works, though! You understand, there’s a lot of that stuff! You know, string and duct tape holding everything together. Especially back then! Now it’s like, you know, they’ve got Hollywood-type shows, with Superstars, but. What was the question, now? (audience laughs) Yeah! Now, I called, yes, I called the phone, the phone called me, and I got the part!
Announcer: Well, Zack. You were the original voice of Finn (Female audience cheers), and Jeremy took it over for the series.
Announcer: Well, it’s two more guests!
Dana Snyder: It just got more interesting, folks, ’cause that guy in the green hat is walking in right now! Yeah, that guy! (Audience cheers)
Announcer: (Inaudible) He’s best known for his work on Thundercats as the voice of Lion-O! Viewers everywehre know him as the voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird and Count Chocula, Mr. Larry Kenney! (Audience cheers) He’s had his head blown off by John Travolta in Pulp Fiction! Played Cowboy Curtis in the PeeWee Herman Show on Broadway. Was a member of the Mad TV ensemble for years. He’s guest-starred on dozens of TV shows, and has voiced dozens of instantly recognizable characters and celebrities. He’s Hermes from Futurama, (Audience cheers) Static from Static Shock, and Samurai Jack himself, Mr. Phil LaMarr! (Audience cheers and applauds)
Announcer: Okay, we have just one little thing. We’re lucky, we have just enough time!
Phil LaMarr: What did we miss?
Dana Snyzer: Nothing, apparently! (Audience laughs) This is it. We’re just looking to see how silent we can be in this room for a while! Yes! What’re you filming on, back there?! (points to member in the back) You’ve got a HD Flatscreen TV or something? Stand up! Let me see that! Hold that up! It’s like your closed-circuit security camera or something?! (Audience laughs) You know, they’ve got cameras on phones now, too! Great resolution, like 720p HD. Oh! Phil’s Mic isn’t working. I’ll just talk abou Computer Guy again a little bit! So, ah, did you get a Dell? (Audience laughs) Are you streaming?
The transcript ends here, The panel shifts over to a scripted table read of Seinfeld episode The Chinese Restaurant. The roles were filled as follows:
- Jerry: Jeremy Shada as Finn from Adventure Time
- George: Phil LaMarr as Hermes from Seinfeld
- Kramer: Dana Snyder as Master Shake from Aqua Teen Hunger Force
- Elaine: Alan Oppenheimer as Skeletor from Masters of the Universe
- Miscellaneous Cast Fileed By Zachary Shada and Larry Kenney:, playing various roles
We’ve transcribed the brief Q&A session that followed.
Phil LaMarr: On What?
Announcer: Did anybody understand that question?
Audience 1: Creator’s rights! You know, ethical treatment of comic book creators, like Jack Kirby and stuff.
Phil LaMarr: Creator’s Rights?
Audience 1: Yeah!
Phil LaMarr: (Impersonates Lincoln) I believe all who create should have a right to create, and a right to profit from what they create!
Audience 1: And also, can you tell us about the Simpsons-Futurama cross-over, like, how they’re gonna do it, because Simpsons and Futurama are in different universes and stuff!
Phil LaMarr: Um, they’re not! they’re not in different universes. They’re just in different points in time.
Dana Snyder: Sort of like the Flintstones and the Jetsons!
Another audience member pipes up, asking what the question was
Phil LaMarr: Oh! He was asking about, apparently, it’s his panel! (Audience laughs) So he’s asking about the Simpsons-Futurama cross-over which we just recorded. That’s going to be an episode of the Simpsons probably next season. No, but it’s a time travel episode! There’s no cross-dimensionality.
Audience 1: Yeah, but-
Dana Snyder: Stand up there, Rusty! Oh! Venture Brothers, right?
Audience 2: I have two questions: Do you know anything about the Aqua Teen that’s coming up soon, or the Venture Brothers Season 6:
Dana Snyder: Sure, I’ll tell you about all the shows! There’s explosions, excitement, The Venture Brothers, they’re robots. Ah, spoiler alert, it all takes place on Venus, it’s not on Earth! And, ah, the whole next season of Venture Brothers will be live action, starring George Clooney and Tim Curry as the two Venture brothers (audience laughs) and, wait a minute, wait a minute! C’mon! He can’t hear me! The streaming guy’s not gonna pick up this important answer! Yeah, I dunno who else is playing. The doctor is being played by Senator Barbara Boxer, and that’s the spoiler!
Announcer: How about any other questions from this side of the room, maybe? Her in the Yellow!
Audience 3: This one is for Jeremy Shada. You said that you were a lot like Finn, but what qualities do you think do you think that you guys are different from each other?
Jeremy Shada: Um, Finn is very adventurous, and I am not.
Dana Snyder: Oh, wait, you want to hear the question, right? She said, I’ll talk for her! (Imitates, audience starts laughing) Hey! Jeremy Shada! You’re a lot like Finn, but what are you really like him, and I love you, and want to get married, and have your babies!
Dana Snyder: It’s uncanny! It’s uncanny.
Jeremy Shada: It’s amazing!
Phil LaMarr: It’s like a young French Revolina!
Jeremy Shada: Finn is very adventurous, I am very not adventurous! Kind of a bumfest, I know! Finn loves 0meatloaf, I hate meatloaf.
Announcer: Alright, we’re going to give out two questions, and the people who ask those questions are each going to get a signed script. So..
Dana Snyder: Oh yeah! Do that.. that guy! Mario! Yeah, Mario!
Jeremy Shada: Uh oh!
Announcer: That’s it. I think we’ll go with Lion-O! Now, the question has to be good!
Dana Snyder: Oh, Lion-O!
Jeremy Shada: Oh, wow!
Larry Kenney:: Kid, can I interrupt one sec? If you really want people to notice you, have Cheetara stand up with you! (Audience applauds)
Dana Snyder: PS! She’s a nurse in the ER at Allentown, Pennsylvania! Oh, a doctor! Wow! Woo! ER and trauma, just like my mom was in!
Audience 3: (inaudible)
Announcer: I believe the question was “what do you do between gigs?”
Phil LaMarr: Look for more gigs!
Jeremy Shada: So true!
Announcer: Okay, another questions?
Dana Snyder: Going to Haven Brothers after this one.
Announcer: You know, I’m going to let Phil LaMarr pick one!
Phil LaMarr: It better be good! I put myself on the line for you!
Phil LaMarr: I don’t know! If I could do all of my characters, like, in one week, then it might be possible to pick one. But the thing is they all came at different points in my career, at different times. SOmetimes the show was amazing, sometimes the cast was amazing, sometimes neither but the part was great. It’s really, really hard. I mean-
Audience 4: I really liked your morality in Samurai Jack! I loved you in it!
Phil LaMarr: Samurai Jack was a fantastic show! (Audience cheers) I said twelve words in four years!
Larry Kenney:: Phil, can I tell them my favorite character of yours? White Guy #1 In Family Guy! I don’t know why, it’s just, just..!
Dana Snyder: Pinkie! Yeah, yeah, that’s right! Oh yeah, sorry!
Audience 5: (Nervous laugh, inaudible)
Dana Snyder: Don’t worry, I’ll repeat her question in the exact way she asked.
Audience 5: (Inaudible question, punctuated by nervous laugh)
Dana Snyder: Wait one minute… you’re next! I swear! But don’t ell anyone!
Larry Kenney:: If anyone has a question, ask it!
Dana Snyder: Yeah, let’s do this! Yell ’em out, everyone ask their quesiton right now! 1 2 3 go!
(cacaphony from the audience)
Announcer: Alright, we have time literally for about two more questions.
Phil LaMarr: The question was for Zack: How did you get into music? Go!
Zachary Shada: Okay, so when I was about nine years old, I wanted to be a musician. And I just wnet form there. I started playing guitar, I started trying to do piano, none of them very well. So I decided to sing, and i was tone deaf, but I practiced for a long time, and I got good at it. And then I started writing songs and producing, and I’e been doing it ever since.
Dana Snyder: That’s all you have to do?!
Jeremy Shada: There you go, people! If you’re tone deaf, you can sing, too! (laughs)
Dana Snyder: Alright, Pinkie’s next! Pink shirt! That’s right, stand up!
Audience 6: Jeremy, can you do your best Finn impression?
Jeremy Shada: My best Finn impression?! So should I do an impression of myself doing Finn, or should I just be Finn? I’m confused! (audience laughs)
Phil LaMarr: Just do the impression!
Jeremy Shada: Alright, here we go! (Impersonates himself, playing Finn) Oh my Glob!
Phil LaMarr: Man, I’m not buying it! I’m not buying it!
Audience 7: For all of you guys, what is favorite line, any character you’ve ever done? Just pick a line?
Dana Snyder: What the young is a salmon flyin’ into?1
Jeremy Shada: Slamacow!
Alan Oppenheimer:: Hey, that’s mine, too! Slamacow! (Audience laughs)
Phil LaMarr: My Manwich!
Larry Kenney:: THunder! Thunder! Thunder! Thundercats HOOOO!
Zachary Shada: I said “lift off” like thirty times in the movie Space Chimps, so maybe it’s that! Lift off!
Announcer: Alright, last question! THe gentleman with a beard and moustache!
Dana Snyder: Everybody in this room has a beard-moustache! (Audience laughs) Four people who don’t have a beard-moustache! That’s a goatee, by the way, or a Van Dyke!
(The panelists agree it’s a Van Dyke)
Audience 8: Do you have agents, and do you basically do what they tell you to be, or just, like, get work yourself?
Phil LaMarr: It’s crucial to have an agent!
Jeremy Shada: Yeah!
Phil LaMarr: Yeah!
Jeremy Shada: Yeah!
Larry Kenney:: I think we do about ten percent better with an agent! (Audience laughs, panelists join in)
Zachary Shada: Yeah, without agents, I don’t htink I would have gotten any jobs!
Dana Snyder: Yeah! We wouldn’t know about ’em, really, I guess!
Announcer: CraigsList, I guess?
Phil LaMarr: Most of the animation, they go to the agents looking for the actors. They’ll rarely pick a person off the street because they don’t know! Like, you just get a tape! You don’t know how long that person worked on those two minutes. It’s like “I spent three years to make two minutes! And that’s how long it’ll take to make that cartoon! Take me three years!” Nobody really wants that.
Alan Oppenheimer:: “To do my excited puppy voice, I must dress up like an excited puppy, and run around before I do it!” (Audience laughs)
Jeremy Shada: He’s a method actor!
Phil LaMarr: That’s right! I once herad, there was an engineer telling me a story. They, some Russian money had come in for an animated feature, and they wanted Sharon Stone to do a voice. And Sharon Stone had a speech, and at one point in the speech, her character does a twirl. And Sharon needed to twirl, so they needed to mic the studio. In the round! So they could record her line, mind you, she’s not twirling through the entire speech! There’s one twirl in the speech!
Dana Snyder: Wow!
Jeremy Shada: That’s amazing!
Larry Kenney:: I wonder how much money that scene…
Announcer: Unfotunately, We’re out of time. These, all of these gentlemen are at their individual tables this weekend. Please go see them!
1: This may be a mis-hearing. If you know the actual name of this organization, please don’t hesitate to let us know!