For years, we have booked voice-over jobs together. So much of that is because we possess a genuine chemistry. However, it’s also our ability to commit to our characters and have the moxie to jump off the page, to do improvisation. That’s right, stray a bit from what’s written. We’re not talking about changing the writer’s good words. We are speaking of the in-betweens, buttons, and subtle nuances that our characters would say. If we stuck to the words on the page, they would sound too robotic and stilted, and you know it’s all about being the average Joe. But the average Joe does not speak concisely. Our youngest kid repeats things three times before he actually gets to the point. He’s excited to tell the story, but he’s still formulating his thoughts and buying time in that repetition. It’s quite endearing.
One of the best marathons we ever ran was when we were cross-training with yoga. The more we ran, the more rigid our muscles became. Yoga freed us from that, forcing us to flex our muscles in an entirely different way. Improvisation does the exact same thing. Every piece of copy we get has a place where we can throw in slight nuances that make the piece jump off the page.
This “Moxie” that we mentioned comes with some slight risk-taking and you have to be proficient at it. It’s not about finding the funny. Some of the drollest things that you can add get the biggest laughs. Sometimes funny can fall flat, especially when people are trying to BE funny.
After 30 plus years in the business, we both agree that there are times we have found ourselves getting stale and falling into the same habits. It’s easy to do, especially when we are locked in a booth all day by ourselves with no one to feed off of. So, we further educate ourselves with improvisation classes because there are wise nuggets to be gained from every single person we have had the pleasure of learning from. Shaking things up and learning different techniques is wonderful practice. The training of improvisation is an amazing platform to learn how to stretch your muscles. It teaches you about listening, supporting your fellow performers, and being spontaneous. Since we started with The Second City, we have seen a steady rise in our bookings, our copy feels fresher, and we are more excited to challenge ourselves in becoming our characters. And no exaggeration when we say a good improvisation class is filled with so much love, fun, and laughter that it pours itself into your work and your life.
To learn more about Jessica and George Grant, visit their website here!