(And not eat your relatives)
Caution: I am not a scholar. Or a scientist. Or a theologian. Or a doctor. Or a psychologist. Or psychiatrist. Or an advisor of any kind. In fact, I may not have any real solid answers for you, but at least we'll laugh together along our path to oblivion.
“A nice pickle we’ve landed ourselves in, Mr. Frodo.”
Surely by now you’ve read The Lord of the Rings. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s the twenty-seventh chapter in the utterly interminable and chronologically punishing “Twilight” series. I’m joking. It’s a standalone, triumphant magna carta, the penultimate work of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the quintessential work of fantasy fiction, second only to the grand oeuvre of fantasy fiction: my suddenly being able to cook up an exquisitely delicious meal for my wife. Insert uproarious laughter here.
If you truly haven’t read it yet, or haven’t even heard of it, the firing squad is just down the hall and to your left. If there happens to be a waiting list there, you've received a reprieve. So go home and read it, and then come back in three years, eight months, twenty-one days, eleven hours, thirty-six minutes and ninety-eight seconds, and we’ll talk, as that’s how long it takes to complete it. Then, down the hall and to your left...
However – if you have read it, you’ll be familiar with the fact that Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee are setting out for Mount Doom after the Council of Elrond, and Sam mutters the above phrase in disappointment.
It’s truly a pickle, and I don’t mean those bread-and-butter chips that go so well with Vegemite sandwiches. (Tip of the hat to Men at Work). It’s the kind of dill and dire situation that you become stuck in as the acid from the pickle slowly eats you away. You’ve got to wriggle out somehow! In order to survive the pandemic as a voiceover artist, you must find ways to survive. You’ve also got to eat. Hint: Pickles will do. Friends and relatives will not, unless they’re from Uruguay and you’re stuck in the Andes. This is why I always bring salt packets with me wherever I go.
It’s a bizarre world now. When our loved ones leave home, we ask “Got your keys? Got your phone? Got your mask?” Very pickle-like. But such is our lot, Mr. Frodo. Such is our lot. Oh well. Someday we'll look back on all of this...and plow into a parked car.
Survival of the Fittest...Voice Talent?
In this current crazy world, we’re in a pickle of our own. Take this woman, for example, straight out of I Am Legend. Yes, you saw her do exactly what she did, and that was not the work of CGI. Click the link. You won't believe it. I'll wait.
See? This coronavirus thingy (maybe you’ve heard of it) isn’t going anywhere, and it's making us all crazy. It’s like Rick Moranis’ character “Louis” from Ghostbusters. No matter how quietly Sigourney Weaver’s character “Dana” steps lightly down the hall to secretly shuffle past his apartment, he is always there, ready to burst out and sweetly annoy her. And while Louis is innocent and lovable, the coronavirus is anything but. It sticks around and keeps coming back, just like the IRS, and Girl Scout cookie hawkers. They keep coming back to plot my financial and fitness demise. I'll take eight boxes of Samoas with a side of audit, please.
As a Voiceover Artist, you must find a way to rise above the pandemonium, and successfully hawk your own cookies out there in cyberspace. What are your cookies? Why, Chocolate Chip Voiceovers, of course. Or Oatmeal Voiceovers. Or Molasses Voiceovers. Or SnickerdoodleVoiceovers! Or my personal favorite… Voiceover Samoas! Whatever you fancy, you must find a way to survive and continue providing paid services.
First, let’s discuss what performing voiceovers as a survival method does NOT include:
- Jumping on Fiverr and advertising your services at 13,926,178% off.
- Holing yourself up in your studio, sucking your thumb and whimpering “Find a happy place…find a happy place.”
- Joining Amway in desperation.
- Offering free voiceovers in exchange for food.
- Offering free food in exchange for voiceovers.
- Selling your VO gear on eBay to raise money for food to offer in exchange for voiceovers.
- Making a run for the hills, or moving to one of these places to escape Covid-19.
- Branching out into podcasting or DJ'ing or singing, because apparently those with microphones can seemingly do everything.
Now that we've dispensed with absolute 100% pure unadulterated insanity, here’s what performing voiceovers for survival DOES include, in all sincerity!
- Not undervaluing yourself. By this I mean not undervaluing yourself. There will be a quiz later.
- Maintaining a high level of quality and professionalism. By this I mean purging your studio of any and all voiceover equipment that is manufactured in plastic and is stamped with the name “Tonka.”
- Continuing to market to interested leads. By this I mean even telemarketing.
- Praying. A lot. By this I mean a lot of praying.
- Auditioning more. By this I mean auditioning more.
- Marketing more. By this I mean increasing the amount of people you annoy per day.
- Auditioning even more than the last time you read “Auditioning more.”
- Marketing even more than the last time you read “Marketing more.”
- Continuing to invest in your fellow voice talent. Encouraging them. Driving them forward with a cattle-prod and encouraging phrases like John Worsham’s “Have a nice say” or Doug Turkel’s “Don’t make me use my Announcer Voice.” Beating them briskly with Sennheiser 416’s if they resist encouragement. By this I mean sanctioned violence.
- Taking the occasional much-needed break. By this I mean hot baths with Enya. (Or Enya music. Just ask her which she prefers.)
- Planning for the future. By this I mean panning for gold in your local stream since society as a whole will collapse, currency will be meaningless, and you’ll need gold bars to buy rice paddies in order to grow food that you can use to barter for voiceover commercials about Ford trucks which will now be free unless you have gold bars with which to purchase them in which case the salespeople will relent and accept said gold bars because hey a guy’s gotta eat even if its rice grown in rice paddies purchased with gold bars panned from streams since society collapsed. There will be another quiz.
- Reading The Lord of the Rings.
As a voiceover talent, it’s your duty to continue to perform your scripts almost as if nothing happened. Ignorance is bliss! March onward, good soldier, as if the world were not in fact going to hell in a hand basket and the flames licking at your feet. And if they are, I sell Voiceover Aloe Vera at 50% off, purchasable with gold bars.
During the pandemic, I’ve actually had some of my best weeks ever. I’m not kidding! It’s been amazing. Last week I had 24 jobs! In June I missed beating my all time monthly record by only $100. And this week I made over $6000 in income in a single week. As a reward, I purchased $6000 worth of pickles.
"In these uncertain times, we’re all in this together." Yes, we keep hearing that, but it's not really true. Whoever is the most shrewd bad-ass out there is going to survive. After all, it's survival of the fittest.
Can I borrow some Voiceover Toilet Paper please?
I predict that, with the impending renewed shortage of toilet paper, us voiceover artists are going to need to band together. All of you should flee your homes at once before the uprising begins. Come to our place. No really. I am not kidding. We’re moving to a new property with 4 acres. You can join us there, and we can all band together and form one giant SuperVoice! Together, the Autobots shall not defeat us, and we shall ruuuule the galaxy!! Moo-oo-oo-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahhhhhh!!!! Seriously, I think Frank Welker had it right.
And it's going to require patience too. Those great philosophers Guns n' Roses had it right. "Just a little patience," they urge, and it's best we adopt that attitude post-haste, because this pandemic won't resolve itself by tomorrow. We've got to be able to stick it out for the long haul, like we do when our internet goes down and Comcast assures us someone will definitely be out sometime in the next quarter century, on a day and time that will be convenient to pretty much only them. We must wait and be patient.
But here's the truth. There’s no way the coronavirus can get us if we’re all truly united. We’ll form a 300-ish perimeter of shields. Together, we’ll cover the man and woman voice talent to our left. Together, we’ll all feel sorry for the poor chap who is the last one on the right and who has no shield cover and will most surely die. And together, we’ll voice the proverbial “We will always remember him” script in our best Dennis Haysbert voice. But hey, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. Losing one voice talent? Meh. Acceptable loss. The rest of us will survive.
Do we have any brave volunteers to be the guy on the right? Please. Someone step up. It's getting hot and stuffy in this pickle, Mr. Frodo, and you've got me singing this song by The Police.
HEY. WAIT JUST A S.E.C.!
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