FOR THE HELL OF IT April 17, 2017
by Johnny Heller
3RD ANNUAL SPLENDIFEROUS NARRATOR WORKSHOP COACH INTROS
To make sure it’s easy to find all the rude things I said about the coaches this year, I thought it best to put them all in one place. Here. Except I can’t figure out how to add the memes so no memes for you!
SEAN ALLEN PRATT
And now I begin introducing the coaches for the 2017 Splendiferous Workshop. As you may know, you should not consider a single thing I say about the coaches to be true. I stand by nothing at all and post these intros only for entertainment purposes. You can find out real stuff about the coaches by researching them – which is a habit you need to get into anyway.
Since he couldn’t come to last year’s workshop, I feel just fine taking what I wrote about Sean Allen Pratt last year and reposting it like it was brand new. (it’s really brand old but when you make stuff up, dates are unimportant)
Ladles and Jellyspoons, Mr. Sean Allen Pratt.
Sean Pratt comes from a long line of Pratts. The original Pratt was Anson Prat of Bunburying England who invented Bird Watching by seeing a large bird and shouting – “Oy! Look at that!” Which everyone did and now it’s a national pastime — which is all one really needs to know about England.
Anson Prat also added an additional “T” to the Prat family name as the word – without the extra “t” – means a persons buttocks and he grew tired of hearing townsfolk gossip about Mrs. Prat’s Prat – saying “Niiiiice prat on that Prat -eh? Oy! A bird!!….”
The word Prat also means a total idiot – a complete dolt. Sadly the addition of a single letter can do little to change one’s mental makeup. To this day, one rarely hears – “what a good idea Professor Pratt!” “Here’s an amazing new theory promulgated by Dr. Pratt.” or “By God! That’s brilliant Pratt!”
Sean owes his very existence to his great great great Grandfather – Col. Benjamin Pratt of the Colonial Army who was caught and sentenced to death by the British for wearing “I hate the King” buttons on his tunic. Pratt was set before a firing squad and was asked if he had a last request. Pratt did. “I request that you not execute and instead let me go.” And so, not wanting to refuse a last request, they did just that and Pratt returned to the American forces and went on to foster a large clan of Pratts.
The Pratts eventually settled in Oklahoma where they carried on their predecessor’s gift of pointing out the obvious – and became professional tornado watchers. A thankless and low paying task, tornado watchers spend hours staring out the windows of their homes to see if a funnel cloud is in the sky. When they spot one, they shout out – “Hey!” and then they go back to cooking meth.
Sean Allen Pratt, like most deranged serial killers, goes by 3 names. To date, he has not killed anyone but it’s only just lunch time so who knows what the day will bring. Sean began his career as an apprentice wrangler in a traveling flea circus. He lost the gig when the entire cast of the show left the train he had wrangled them on and, instead, leaped on a passing Labrador.
One day while watching television, he became annoyed at the 36th commercial in a row featuring the voice of Donald Sutherland and decided to do something about it. He made a commercial voice demo and was told he sounded much too much like Donald Sutherland and that he was much too tall to do commercials (Sean is 6 feet 12 inches tall — nearly 8 feet if my math is right). He sent a note to Donald Sutherland who was kind enough to write back. Mr Sutherland said: “Piss off. Pratt. There’ only room for one tall white guy in this business and that’s me. Go do audio books or something.” And so Sean did.
Interestingly, he found that no one was concerned with his great height. Nor was any mention made of his enormous head.
The audio book producers seemed only to care if he was any good. And by gum – he was! Sean is an award winning narrator with 900 titles or so (many are actually just pamphlets he recorded on his iphone) to his credit and he is a trusted and extremely popular coach and we are damn lucky to have him join us! I am very pleased to welcome him and I look forward to his insights.
And now – Amy Rubinate!
Amy Rubinate is known to many as an actress of great skill, a narrator of unequaled excellence, a producer of brilliant audiobooks — but to others – a select group of others – she is known as “Lady R” – an international hit woman and book-club gang enforcer.
Rubinate started her odyssey as a thug for hire in the 1st grade when her fellow students would give her their lunch money if she would push 3rd graders off the swing set. After a short time, she would push everyone off the swing set regardless of payment or educational level attained.
“Hey! Why did you push me off the swing?” her classmates would cry.
“You know the sound your body made just now when you hit the ground? The ‘splat’ sound?”, responded Rubinate. “I love that sound! …and I love pushing people. Both things. Absolutely love them.”
This love of sound and fury propelled Rubinate to study voice and how to use it to annoy people to the point where they would say something rude and then she could – in good conscience – punch them out.
“Arrooooooooooo!” she would frequently yodel.
“Shaddap!” an irked listener would shout.
“Thwack” said Amy’s lightning fast jab.
“Oof,” said her critic.
“Sploof/splat/thwomp” came the noise from their inevitable fall to ground.
“I love freakin’ love this!” Amy said with glee and just a dollop of relish and a hint of mustard.
Amy soon realized that to support her habit of pushing people around, she would have to make some money not pushing them around. So, she tried to get work teaching singing. She would pound out a note on the piano and demand that the student hit it. If they didn’t, she would hit them. (We generally refer to this method of teaching by force as “Catholic Schooling”)
Surprisingly – for Amy – and happily for everyone else, it turned out that Rubinate had a lovely voice. She was more than just an evil she demon with a penchant for lashing out (We generally refer to this type of person as “Kellyanne Conway”)
As chance would have it, one of her students happened to have an audiobook – Scott Brick does the Greatest Hits of Simon P Vance; or PJ Ochlan and Jeffrey Kafer in a dual narrator production of the Erotic Adventures of the Hardy Boys: Episode One – The Oil Wrestling Caper – or something.
At any rate, Amy quickly realized that this was a job she could do! She had a gorgeous voice and she would be able to work alone and not harm anyone while she worked. And it was a job that would allow her plenty of spare time to go to various corporation team-building retreats and trick people by not catching them when they did the trust exercises.
Since making the decision to go into audiobook narration, Amy has become a much sought after performer and a producer with her own audiobook company (that she rules, of course, with an iron fist…which I think is a title of a Kafer book). At any rate, in all honesty, Amy is a sweetheart who is passionate about the actors’ craft. She is a consummate pro and a wonderful coach. I am delighted she will be joining us and you will be as well – except for J Rodney Turner – who I paid Amy to push down.
And now – Andi Arndt!
Andi Arndt is thought by many people to be the nicest person in the universe. You would think that this would tell you all you need to know about Andi, but it is far more revealing about the people who think that. Clearly, they don’t know many people, don’t know the true Andi Arndt and have zero understanding of the universe.
Andi Arndt isn’t even her real name. It’s actually Gladys Zomblotsky. She grew up on farm in a small town near Intercourse, PA called AlmostThere, PA. (some very interesting high school cheers in AlmostThere…)
The Zomblotskys had an average size farm and every day as far back as the town records go, the family would fan out and till the soil. They worked very hard, building fences and making stables and painting the barn and ploughing the land. But they had a very meager income for all their labor as none of them considered planting seeds first or getting some animals to live in the barn.
It was young Gladys who proposed they get an actual cow to milk and some hens to lay eggs as the dog was getting irritated and whatever the cat was dropping did not taste like breakfast. Her parents realized then and there that Gladys was different and needed to be treated as such. They told her that she could be anything she wanted to be.
“Can I be a Princess?”, Gladys asked.
“You already are!” her parents said, smiling.
“No! You moronic thick-headed asshats! What the hell? I want to be an F-ing real damn Princess! And then I wanna move up to Queen and rule the whole F-ing kingdom! Christ! What the F is the matter with you numbnuts!?” said Gladys.
“Oh,” said her parents. “Then no. You can’t be a Princess. We aren’t royalty.”
“You guys suck,” said Gladys. And she decided that if she couldn’t be a real Princess she sure as hell could be win some crowns on her own. She had a beautiful voice – having spent her childhood singing rude sailing ditties and shouting foul limericks to passersby and various bits of vegetation as the mood struck her. For miles around folks knew her as Gladys – the little girl with lovely voice and the potty mouth. “Potty Mouth Gladys” they called her. She called them “low-life shit kicking ass lickers” and other interesting combos.
Her desire to wear a crown started Gladys’s very long career in the pageant game. First she won the “Miss AlmostThere but Not Quite – ah! Now I’m There!” Crown in the local beauty pageant. Then Gladys won the Miss Pennsylvania Mumblety-Peg Beauty and Talent Show. After that victory, Gladys was ready for the big time – the Miss Groundhog Day Monster Truck Rally Yodeling and Yelling Curse Words Pageant. For this event, she needed something more than a remarkable ability to swear really loudly. She needed a new name. Being clever, as noted earlier, she decided that if someone googled loud foul mouthed beauties, hundreds of names would come up. To be noticed first, she decided the letter “A” would come in handy – thinking much the way people who name their company “Aardvark…whatever” think. So – she picked Aardvark Zomblotsky.
And she won the pageant. Miss Aardvark Zomboltsky was now the reigning champ of the Groundhog Day…. yada…. yada…Pageant and she fully expected high paying offers for the loveliest sounding swear words ever would come pouring in.
But they didn’t. One day, while out tossing knives at various things, Aardvark listened to an audiobook about two people expressing their mutual admiration by donning leather outfits and rutting in a vat of olive oil. And she realized that this was her calling. Not the rutting – but telling the story. The book had it all – a nice voice, hundreds of swear words and some seriously nasty sex. It was as though she had written it herself. Another name change was in order since Aardvark Zomblotsky would never sell as the name of a serious voice actor. And so, Andi Arndt was born.
She went to acting school to learn the craft and she found out that she could do well in roles even if there wasn’t swearing involved. It was a revelation. Since then Andi has been offering wonderful audio stories – innocent and incredibly filthy. She did Frozen for F’s sake!! There’s like no swearing in there at all! F-ing Frozen!
She has found her place in the audiobook world and is highly sought after as a narrator and as a coach. While she still likes to go home to the farm for the holidays and practice outrageous swear word pairings while yelling at her family, I am delighted that she has agreed to come to the workshop to swear at us.
She is a wonderful person and you will love her. (And she really is amazingly nice…I don’t think I’ve ever heard her swear ever. She might when she sees this though.)
And now, Carol Monda.
Carol Monda learned early in life that she had a special gift. Her voice was pure silk. The very sound of it caused people to stop what they were doing and consider doing something entirely different. In short, Carol Monda spoke and people got randy.
At first Carol didn’t understand what was happening. She only knew she rarely got what she wanted.
“Mommy? Daddy? Can I have some breakfast?” she would ask.
“What’s that?” her parents would say as they began to drool. “Hummmannnaa, hummannaa, hummmaanna…”
“Eggs? Some cereal. A little milk?” Carol would ask.
“Milk!!!????? Holy Crap – be right back!” her parents would say and then they would return 15 or 20 minutes later looking all sweaty and disheveled.
“Hmmm,” Carol thought. “What the hell…?”
Once Carol cottoned to what was happening, she spoke less frequently – finding it far safer to point and gesture and many assumed she was a few bricks short of a full load. But she wasn’t. She was fully loaded and she knew it. She also knew that she was inextricably drawn to sexual innuendo and simply couldn’t have a conversation that didn’t head in that direction.
Her parents and the authorities tried to hide Carol – sending her away to various religious orders where vows of silence were taken. But it was always the same – Carol would bump into someone or drop a cup and say something like “oops!” or “excuse me,” and people would hear her start going: “whhhhoooop whoooo whoooooohooooooo!” and other exultations and she would be sent home.
After graduating Catholic University with a degree in pointing at Ecclesiastical things, Carol got a job with the local police as a 911 Operator. The job did not last for her as many calls went like this:
“911?? There’s an emergency!” a caller would cry.
“What can you tell me about the nature of the emergency?” Monda crooned.
“Well…it’s. It’s a fire.”
“Is it a hot fire?”
“What? Yeah. It’s hot. It’s real hot.”
“Where’s the fire exactly, sugar?” Monda asked.
“In my pants! In my pants! NO! 3rd! 3rd and Broad Street!”
“Okay hot pants. You just stay right there and I will send the fire department to put out that nasty hot fire.”
“Oh my god. Yeah. Do that. Send the fire truck.”
“I’m doin’ it. I’m doin’ it right now.”
“They will be right there with their big hoses and they will have their way with that fire and that will be that. How can I thank you for callin’ this in?”
“Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh! Gotta go! Bye!”
Well this wouldn’t do. Carol had to find an occupation requiring complete silence or one that would use her skills to the utmost. She tried the silent jobs first – librarian, bomb squad detonation team, research assistant, ditch digger, nun – they all had significant drawbacks. The greatest being that Carol Monda was a born to tell stories – to hold audiences enthralled, enraptured and titillated. She especially liked to say “titillated”. She had always wanted to be an actor but feared that her gift would condemn her to pornography or Fox News.
Finally, she discovered audiobooks. A world of literature that required a special voice, a skill set – a world that needed Carol Monda. Carol started in children’s and YA titles and they sold like hot cakes – “Once upon a time – “from Carol Monda was all a kid needed to hear to come of age. She eventually expanded her repertoire to include adult fiction and non-fiction and, of course, romance and erotica.
Monda scoffed at the idea of using a different name for erotica work – turning down offers to record as Moana Longtime, Feela Mythigh and Boobs McBooby.
She is justifiably proud of her skills and today enjoys a reputation as the one of the finest audiobook talents in the industry. She worked on stage and in film and coaches with me at Edge Studio. She’s a giant in the field. a brilliant coach and man oh man – what a voice! I’m delighted to welcome to the workshop – my friend and a great actor – Carol Monda!
And now to introduce another fine coach for 2017 – Hillary Huber!
Hillary Huber has long been recognized as being Hillary Huber …which is a nice change as earlier in her career she was frequently mistaken for Moms Mabley.
Hillary began her voice over career by spending the majority of her youth yelling at people. She was thrice voted “Most Likely To Never Shut Up” as well as the “Little girl we’d most like to bludgeon”.
Hillary got bitten by the acting bug at a young age…and by that I mean that Jim Backus actually bit her at a Mr. Magoo Convention because she would not stop yelling “You’re not Mr. Magoo! You’re Thurston Howell the Third – Dammit!!”
Hillary got started in show business the hard way – entering talent and beauty contests across the nation and actually winning the Miss Walmart of Wichita Title with her bravura performance as Screaming Lady MacBeth and Her Amazing Poodle – Piddles.
Hillary finally scored a job in craft services on a Snuff Film where her principal duty was to order one less meal every day of filming. Debra Deyan finally discovered her one day while Hillary was walking around Tarzana keeping her instrument tuned by yodeling at squirrels and yelling at passing motorists. Deyan noted that this was a very vocal girl and gave her a job reading dirty novellas in an otherwise quiet sound studio. Huber proved so adept at saying “throbbing” without giggling that she soon got work in other genres and today she is considered one of the finest female narrators in the business.
We are lucky to have her with us – as she has told me countless times. Please join me in a rousing Facebook Welcome to the lovely, talented and really sweet Hillary Huber!
…more to come!
And now Mr. Jeffrey Kafer
Jeffrey Kafer began his life, as many do, as a baby. But unlike other babies – young Kafer never ever cried. He never complained. He never had anything but a smile on his face.
This came as a shock to the Kafer clan as they expected the lad to follow in the family business – testing the patience of hospitality industry applicants by being incredibly demanding and annoying. The business is still in operation – Professional Grumblers, Complainers and Beraters, Inc. If an applicant could survive a “Kafering” he/she was put on the fast track to running their own shoddy hotel that you can see from the highway but can’t possibly figure out how to get to.
As Kafer grew into a young man, he never lost his cheery disposition and the family began to believe that he was an alien or perhaps a Democrat. He was frequently mistaken for a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness or a musical theater student. While his dream was to one day become a professional brake pad installer, he made ends meet as a door-to-door door salesman.
It was not a good job. Most calls went like this:
Kafer: “Hello! Is the lady or gentleman of the house available?”
Prospect: “I’m one.”
Kafer: “One what?”
Prospect: “A lady or gentleman of the house. Whatcha’ want?”
Kafer: “Have you considered the advantages of a really nice door?”
Prospect: “Like the one you knocked on?”
Kafer: “Yes! Exactly!”
Prospect: “If you knocked on it, numbnuts, it works so why would I need a new one?”
Kafer: “(fumbling) “Well …Ours open and close with little effort or sound!”
Prospect: “They close good?”
Kafer: “Indeed they do!”
Prospect: “Better than this?” The door closes.
(minutes pass. Then hours.)
After some months of futile sales calls, even the cock-eyed optimist began to darken. One rainy day a prospect slammed the door on Kafer’s foot – destroying his new hush puppies, his big toe and his new “Hello Kitty” socks. Standing in a pool of toe blood while the rain cascaded down, Kafer had something of a reverse epiphany. He knocked loudly at the door that had only moments before been closed to him.
“Whaddya want now? You didn’t get the message the first time?”, said the homeowner.
“I got it alright,” replied Kafer. “Now you get this! I don’t like blood in my shoes! I don’t like doors slammed in my face! I don’t like you!” And he punctuated each statement by sopping up foot blood with his handkerchief and wiping it against the homeowners’ face. “Now here’s what’s gonna happen. If you had one of my doors, I wouldn’t have to come around here to sell you one – cuz you’d already have it. So, you’re gonna buy a door to replace this one – “and he began unscrewing the door with his handy battery powered screwdriver – “and you’re gonna want a new backdoor cuz I’m gonna rip that to pieces as soon as we’re finished here and – you friendly with the neighbors?”
“ummm. Yes…” stammered the terrified prospect.
“Good. You tell them they should get some new doors too. I’ll be expecting your order for doors – lots of freakin doors by Monday. If I don’t hear from you, I’ll be back. Who knows? By then I may have expanded to windows.”
And with that – in that moment – the cheery, rose-colored-glasses, glass-is-half-full Jeffrey Kafer was gone and the new snarky, gray-colored-glasses, my glass-is-empty-as-shit-you-two-bit knuckle-dragging-piece-of-gerbil-crap Jeffrey Kafer was born.
And man, was he successful! His family welcomed him back with almost open arms and new found suspicion for his motives. He was one of them!
It wasn’t long before Jeffrey put his hard ball tactics to work in the audiobook world – getting work from Debra Deyan by threatening to jump into her pool without washing off his sunblock oil; from Paul Alan Ruben by staring angrily at him at APA mixers and from Amy Rubinate by showing up at her Sunday School classes and threatening to read passages from “BDSM Brontosaurus Hijinks” – illustrated by Norman Rockwell instead of the King James Bible.
Today Jeffrey Kafer stands along – naturally – as one of the preeminent audiobook business consultants whose advice can truly change your life for the better. Even though the above story is completely true, he remains one of my dearest friends – which explains a great deal about my need for weekly therapy sessions.
PAUL ALAN RUBEN
And now – Mr. Paul Alan Ruben.
Paul has always been drawn to the sea – he grew up in a water front apartment complex. And by water front, I mean that winos used to regularly pee on his front porch. At an early age, Ruben set off to sail the seas. Of course, he was only 10 and had no ship but he did know of a small lake and of a leaky row boat. He and his friends would don pirate outfits and row to the middle of the lake and force each other to walk the plank.
Sadly, Paul was too much the realist to be of much use in the games the boys played. They would imagine great sea monsters and battles and booty. Paul would wrestle with the existential questions raised by the use of imagination as a tool of play as opposed to the pragmatic maxim proffered by Charles Sanders Peirce which would have it that imagination was a mere opiate and a distraction from the elemental truths that there were no monsters, no ships, no booty and, indeed, no pirates at all but merely a troop of ill-behaved boys foolishly fighting against the simple truth of Nietzsche’s nihilism and Camus’ theories of existential absurdism.
The other lads wore proper pirate hats and boots but Paul made do with a yarmulke worn at a rakish angle and a fake beard made from his father’s real beard – shaved off while the old man slept. “Aaaaaaarrr!” the lads would shout.
“OOOOooooooooyyy!” Paul would add.
“Land ho!” said one lad.
“Well of course there’s land ho,” Paul would say. “This is a lake. There’s land all around us.”
“There may be treasure ashore!” the lads would shout.
“I sincerely doubt that,” Paul would add. “We just came from there and it is nothing. It is all nothing. We came from nothing and to nothing we shall surely return.”
The boys looked at each other and wordlessly tossed Paul overboard.
While paddling aimlessly it occurred to Ruben that the only sure action worthy of man was to study the human condition as an actor. That to act was the only calling that made sense and that only as an actor could man be other than himself and truly learn the meaning of life. It also occurred to him that he had lost his yarmulke.
Paul immersed himself in the study of theater and of acting – paying particular attention to the work of Foghorn Leghorn, Elmo Lincoln and Sidney Toler. Later he would write the definitive work on Jerry Mathers as a modern-day Aeschylus and posited that the theater would be a better place had Ibsen gone into the ice cream business instead the playwriting game.
Ruben supported himself during this period of intense study – known as his Dali Days – by selling abstract pot holders door to door and doing one-man shows with his uncanny impersonation of Durwood Kirby arguing Existentialism: “Durwood Kant Camus – Can You?”
Not long after getting his Equity card in children’s theater – interestingly playing Captain Hook the Pirate (although he still shouted “Oooooooyyyy!” instead of “Aaaaaarrrrrr!” Paul was asked to direct.
He began with odd takes on well known shows – How to Succeed in Business from an Alan Ginsberg perspective; Jesus Christ Superstar – from the Pharisees’ point of view and Bent -the Musical.
Paul began a career directing audiobooks when he realized that no one liked the plays he directed. His most positive critical review came from his Uncle Hi who said of his Machiavellian King and I – “feh” – which left Paul seeking a different art form to use to annoy audiences. He found that working with a single actor on a single audiobook could be quite fulfilling if the actor never became aware how much Paul truly hated him.
He constantly tried to get actors to play only the emotion in a given scene. “What is happening here?” he would shout. “You’re talking about a tree! A tree? Does a tree have feelings? No! Only you have feelings! You can only play your feelings about the tree not the tree’s feelings about you – unless the tree is a talking feeling tree in which case it isn’t a tree! Which would take a helluva lot of chutzpah! What kind of a tree talks??!! What am I? A Shmendrik? Who are you – suddenly a maven?! Mr. Know it all Tree Actor! Oy! The tsuris! My God! Just play the scene!!!”
Indeed, it is Paul’s uncanny way of treating the actor like a something one accidently stepped in that has led to his success. Actors enjoy hearing things in only two ways:
1. In words they don’t understand. (Paul has 5 PHDs – all in various dead languages and, of course, English Lit)
2. In Yiddish.
As Paul has said many times: “It’s always mishegas with actors… because you know – as a people – they’re a little nuts. But you gotta have actors or the audiences would get bored. The way I deal with them if they aren’t doing a good job on a long book, is I turn the volume down in my earphones and listen to the Greatest Hits of Herman’s Hermits. Wonderful music.”
And the meaning of life? “Always carry a Bromo – cuz you never know.”
We are honored to have my dear friend and one of the finest acting coaches in the land return to the workshop. Paul Alan Ruben. A fine man. An excellent sandwich.
And now – PJ Ochlan.
If I were not to confess to a feeling of dread, of concern, of fear – I would be guilty of dishonesty. Therefore, I readily admit that it was with a decidedly slow gait that I approached the large well-tended mansion in Tarzana – deep in the wilderness of suburban Los Angeles.
I had been summoned by a cryptic message on my FaceBook page. A simple one word message that could not be misunderstood. One word:
I tried to ignore the directive and waited almost a week without responding only to find another message – “Don’t be a dick. I have need of you.” There was no choice for me. I had to travel west to the realm of PJ Ochlan.
A thorough study of the man left me with more questions than answers. There is no record of the Ochlan family in any research facility in the world– only a series of mentions of PJ Ochlan himself. Mentions that stretch across centuries. Could it be that this man, this legend – was immortal? And if so, what had he traded for that longevity. Was he yet a man?
What I did learn was sparse but of interest. His full name is Pajamas Ochlan – and he was rarely seen in public save in the evening hours and only in his accustomed costume of a red silk smoking jacket, a cravat and black silk pajamas. He was always surrounded by 3 hounds and many called him PJ – “3 Dog” – Ochlan …but never to his face.
The night of my visit, the moon was full and when I knocked upon his door I was greeted by the sound of his 3 hounds – one howl each and each in perfect pitch an octave higher than the previous howl. Most strange.
The door opened and in the dim light within, PJ Ochlan greeted me by smiling a mirthless smile and handing me a chilled Manhattan – a drink he excelled at making and delighted in serving.
He motioned to a chair and said – “I need you to hear this. I believe you have a good ear.”
“Just the one?” I offered – hoping to keep the conversation light.
“Yes. Your left. Listen. And do not speak. Dolt.”
3 Dog read for a full 5 minutes – some sort of espionage tale featuring Eastern European thugs plotting a political murder.
“What did you think? Were the characters convincing?”
“Oh yes. Very,” I replied.
“Good. That is what I needed.”
“That’s it? I flew to LA for this? What the hell?
“I wanted two other things and I have them as well.”
“One- to see if you would come when summoned. You did. Two – I needed to hear you speak as I have to play a character much like you.”
“Like me? A high energy comedic type?”
“A douche,” he said.
“Oh. …lemme ask you something – are you a vampire?”
“Cuz it seems that you – wait. What???”
“I am a vampire. I live here because I needed to be in a place where my oddities would be considered common place and I would not be questioned.”
“Why didn’t you move to Florida then?”
“I said ‘oddities’ – not bat shit crazy. LA suits me. Will you keep my secret?”
“That I’m a vampire!”
“Everybody knows that! Dude – I know you can’t see yourself in a mirror but – really – you look exactly like a vampire. I mean you couldn’t look more like a vampire if you tried! Weird robe and cravat, you’ve got 3 scary hounds…the only unvampire thing about you is your name – Pajamas. And how come you can come out in the daytime?”
“We can go out in the daytime. I don’t know who started that sun thing.”
“And is that a sandwich you’re eating? I thought you only drank blood!”
“What? Oooh. Ick! Gross! Is that what a vampire is? A night crawling blood sucker? I thought that was an agent. Maybe I’m not a vampire. What do you call a guy who’s a really good actor, a great coach and is in high demand and people respect but who is a little weird?”
“No! Me! I am whatever that is.”
“So, you’re not immortal?”
“Only my work is.”
“Nice one!” I said and then I asked the question – “Wanna come coach at my Splendiferous Workshop in May?”
“What will it cost me?”
“Gimme another Manhattan, quit dressing like Hugh Hefner, turn on some lights and it’s a deal.”
“Done,” said Pajamas.
And so it is! PJ Ochlan will be joining us at the workshop and you will be able to see him in the daylight – proving that he is a human…or at least humanish. He’s a wonderful actor and a great coach and he’s not a vampire. You’ll be delighted!
And now- my friend Simon P Vance.
When one thinks of Simon Vance, and I can’t imagine why one would, but should one, for some reason, actually think of him, a number of adjectives should spring to mind: British, UKish, Londony, and Cross-the-pondish.
His real name is not Simon Vance. It’s actually Brockton Throgmorton Cumquat III. He has two older brothers -also named Brockton Throgmorton Cumquat III as his parents – Brockton and Elderberry Throgmorton Cumquat of Derbyshire on Bun Burying – decided that coming up with a name for one child was quite enough and they certainly couldn’t be expected to do it three times. Indeed, even having slept together the three times to get the children in the first place was asking a bit much – had one asked and of course, one wouldn’t.
The young Brockton had high hopes of a career in the military – perhaps in the Queens Own Fusiliers working as a mule tanner. Sadly, the few remaining mules in the service were already well tanned and there was no need for such skills. Instead Brockton found work at a local riding club where he pretended to be an exceptionally tame horse. The job was not too demanding. And the after ride rub downs were quite wonderful. One day the young lady in his saddle found him so tame – in fact he rarely moved at all and only occasionally ate proffered apples – that she decided to listen to an audiobook whilst astride and Brockton was entranced by the medium.
“What are you listening to?” he asked.
“Holy shit! My horse is talking!” said the young lady – who leapt off and ran away in a monstrously unBritish display of emotion.
“You forgot your–! Oh well. I’ll give it a listen myself,” said Brockton and so he did and a wondrous new world opened up to him.
Brockton fell in love with audiobooks and knew immediately that he wanted to narrate them. So, he sought out one of the top narrators in the business – Scott Brick – to learn about the craft. Brockton flew to LA and met Brick in Brick’s secret Bat cave studio. Brick was dressed in Batman pajamas and held a flashlight under his face to create an eerie feeling.
“Nice pajamas,” Brockton said.
“Silence!” said BatBrick. “Did you bring the money?”
Brockton passed over some loot.
“Very good. This will cover the first hour,” said BatBrick. “I’m going to make this simple for you because you don’t seem particularly bright.”
“Well spotted!” Brockton said.
Take this book and read the first word. Brockton did so. Then he looked up to BatBrick.
“Out loud. Dipstick.”
“Oh. Right. Sorry…. ‘It’”
“And the next word,” ordered BatBrick.
“Next word – “
Brick motioned Brockton to continue.
“’best’; ‘of’, ‘times’…”
This went on for an hour and then Brick said, “One hour. You want to pay for another?”
“No! I’m just reading one word at a time! How am I learning anything? Are you telling me audiobook narrating is reading one word after another?”
“Yep.” Brick said. “If you’re British that’s all you need to do. Just read the words in the order they’re written and you’re good to go. And what else did you learn?”
“Apparently to read slowly…hey! We get paid by the hour don’t we!?”
“Now you’ve got it! Oh! And change your name.”
“To what?” asked Simon.
“I think Lance Arseface is nice…no! Simon Vance!”
“Alright! I like the Arseface one!” shouted Brockton.
“No! The Vance one!”
And the legend was born. You can see how far Simon has come in his career by listening to his first audiobook. Note how he reads the first word and then follows it up with the second and then the third and continues that process right through to the end! Magnificent!
This BatBrick method has led Simon to surpass Brick and even me in terms of number of awards won and number of babes in his fan club. If you visit Simon’s house and that’s not likely as he doesn’t like people much and doesn’t tell people where he lives, you’ll see that his giant office writing desk is missing two legs and is held up with great stacks of Earphone Awards. His driveway is lit by Audie Trophies with candles in them. He is considered one of the finest narrators in the industry and he will be the first to tell you that he really is!
But, of course, I am not being honest. The truth is that Simon has a great deal to share with us and that he is a generous good soul who cares deeply about this craft and is always willing to help those who seek his brilliant counsel. He really is a magnificent actor and a topflight narrator. I am honored to call him my friend. My own Brockton Throgmorton Cumquat III.
Ladies and Gentlemen – it’s time for another exciting round of Meet Your Coach! Today – Mr. Scott Brick!
Like many simple people, Scott Brick owes his family name to the original occupation of his ancestors. Scott hails from a long line of brick layers. His great great great great grandfather (and his father – the not nearly as great great great great great grandfather) were all brick layers. All day long they’d lay brick.
Scott himself started his work life as a brick layer but quickly tired of the activity as the bricks never reciprocated.
He dallied for a short while with phone sex but he could never find the phone that he felt “that way” about.
Most people who meet Scott come away from the encounter feeling touched by him. This is because of his habit of groping people at every opportunity.
Scott started in the entertainment game with his mentor and friend Patrick Howard Fraley. Fraley and Scott would set up shop outside the Scientology Headquarters on Hollywood Blvd to catch the escapees with their quirky act – Fraley on the accordian and Scott tap dancing barefoot on a piece of aluminum siding while singing the greatest hits of 101 Strings. Eventually the aluminum would heat up and scald Scott’s feet and he would augment his vocals with heartfelt cries of anguish that brought in the big bucks. Sadly the act ended when Scott saved enough for a pair of shoes and Fraley went on to voice cartoon characters while Scott traveled the countryside offering to do hair and makeup at high schools and community theaters that were doing Cyrano de Bergerac (he only had one skill at the time and that was making Cyrano noses.)
One day, while wandering Woodland Hills singing “NOSES! NOSES! GET YOUR LONG NOSES”, Dan Musselman – who has never hired me that I recall – heard him and thought – “I wonder if that guy would shut up if I gave him a narrating gig…”
It turned out he would.
Since being discovered selling noses, Scott Brick has churned out some 17,000 bazillion and 3 audio books and some of them are actually okay.
Critics have been nearly unanimous in declaring: “this was an audiobook.”
Scott has won many awards – mostly for being tallest in a given group or most likely to buy lunch or 2nd runner up Mr. Congeniality – but still — an award is almost always nice as it can always be used to tie you to a crime scene.
Seriously though – Scott Brick is to audiobooks what Phil Collins is to music — old and failry unintersting. But, man. did he make a lot of loot in his prime.
Scott has won every award an audiobook actor can win. Most importantly, and I mean this, he has won the admiration and respect of the entire audiobook industry for his talent, his body of work, his priceless coaching and mentorship and – most importanly – his wisdom in partnering the incomparable Tess Masters.
Scott Brick – one of my best friends —-which should tell you all you need to know about my situation.