I recently had the opportunity to exclusively interview Bob Bergen to learn five random facts about himself and what advice he has for those who are interested in voiceover. Check out my interview with Bob below:
Loryn: Who has been your favorite cartoon to voice?
Bob: Definitely the pig. He’s the reason I got into this business in the first place. But my favorite cartoon to watch as a kid was Popeye. And in particular, the black and white Fleischer Popeye cartoons. Brilliant, from the comedy timing to the character designs and voices.
Loryn: What advice do you have for those interested in voiceover?
Bob: Well, it’s called voice “acting” for a reason. There’s no such thing as a good voice. There’s no such thing as a bad voice. There are only good actors and bad actors. So, study acting. Study improv. Become a good actor. The difference between a trained actor and a non-train actor is this: A trained actor makes a choice. A non trained actor makes a guess. You need to be able to make solid choices in your work. I think you are born with talent. You are born an actor, a singer, a painter, etc. The technique gives you the tools to be able to repeat your skills at will consistently. Once your acting skills are honed, then study voiceover. Each genre of vo, commercials, animation, games, promo, narration, etc., requires its own study and demo. Do not make a demo until you are ready. You will know. If there’s the slightest doubt, you are not. And do not rely on a coach to tell you when you are ready. That is your responsibility. You may have the chops but not emotionally confident enough to make the demo and pursue. A demo tells the industry you are as good or better than everyone else already working. Resist studying with anyone who offers a demo after a set number of classes, or a package that comes with a demo upon completion. Rarely is someone demo ready after a set number of classes. Hit the websites of the top voiceover agents in the industry. Atlas, CESD, SBV, DPN, AVO, A3, VOX, etc. Listen to the demos of working and represented actors. Your demos need to be as good or better than those. Strive to be a great actor, not a working actor. Those who are great stand a better chance of working. Do not go into voiceover for the money. It will never feel like enough even when doing well. Don’t financially rely on voiceover prematurely. You risk taking any amount of money just to pay your bills, which lowers standards for all. Don’t quit your day job. Time will come when your vo career overtakes your day job. Save! Save every dime you make in vo while still working the day job. And, save period through your entire career. It adds up, and you will need it during slow times. Study marketing. Agents get 10%, we have to do 90%. Once you have the demos, website, agent, all the tools needed to pursue, always carry yourself as a confident successful actor and never break character. The industry will treat you accordingly.
Loryn: What lesson have you've learned from these characters you voice for?
Bob: Cartoons are for entertainment. Unless Sesame Street or a cartoon/program intended as an educational tool, cartoons are not life lessons and should not be used as a moral compass. They are a fun escape. Kids should rely on their parents for life lessons and just enjoy cartoons. Adults as well!
Loryn: What have you've learned about yourself during the pandemic?
Bob: Well, more something I had to remember than learn, which is gratitude. And, to not take life for granted. Those of us who voice cartoons never worked from home. We’ve auditioned from our home studios for years. But television animation is recorded as often as possible in the studio with an ensemble cast. Features are often recorded more one-on-one, without scene partners. But also in studio. With Covid came the need to upgrade the home studio to broadcast quality. After a relatively small financial investment and a large learning curve, within the first 2 weeks of the pandemic, we were business as usual. VO is the only acting genre that not only kept on keeping on with the pandemic, but it also thrived. We cannot say the same for other acting genres. It took a while for tv and film to start up again. The theater is still dark. I have many New York friends who had gone from a successful long-running Broadway show to a successful long-running Broadway show for years. With the pandemic, they couldn’t even get the typical waiter or bartender job. So, I am beyond grateful that I was able to keep working during this pandemic. In fact, this past year has been one of my busiest.
But to me, gratitude goes far beyond show business. If folks are going to live through a pandemic, now is the time. Over 100 years ago with the last pandemic, people weren’t hoarding toilet paper or finding shelves empty. Much of the country didn’t have indoor plumbing. They didn’t have radio to occupy their time. Today we have this machine I am typing on which has at my fingertips great literature, music, tv/film/videos. I can stay in touch with anyone and everyone via Zoom. I can keep up with the news of the world 24/7. I can learn a new language. During the last pandemic, kids had no Zoom classes to continue their education. Many dropped out. Teachers died. BUT-during the last pandemic they had gratitude. Far more than today. We take things for granted with prosperity. “This too shall pass” refers to the good times as well as the bad. Most only associate it with the bad, which leads to taking the good for granted. Technology has created an on-demand insistence. And anything inconvenient or any adjustment in life and lifestyle brings resentment. I have always seen the glass half full. I have never played the victim. I owe much of this to my parents, who like everyone had challenges. But they also had gratitude. They taught me gratitude and accountability. And they taught happiness is a choice and the value of hard work. With this pandemic came the catalyst to take a deep breath and remember and embrace gratitude.
Loryn: What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
Bob: I am painfully shy.
Stay updated with Bob Bergen: http://www.bobbergen.com/. Be sure to follow Bob on:
IG: @bergen.bob Twitter: @BobBergen
LinkedIn: Bob Bergen
YouTube: Bob Bergen