Channel Surfing: Conversations with yourself

Charlotte Kyle
Features Editor

It’s hard to believe we live in a world where an actor can have more than 120 titles listed on IMDb yet they are not considered a “real actor.”
This is the attitude many studios, critics and fans have about voice actors, and it is absolutely ridiculous.
Voice acting is a fundamental part of the entertainment industry. From cartoons to video games, commercials to feature films, voice actors are used more than some people even realize. These actors, however, are not as recognized for their work as they should be.
After watching far too much “Home Movies” and “Futurama” in my free time the past few weeks, I have decided to pay tribute to some of my favorite voice actors. Don’t take this as a definitive list of who is great, however. These are just the names that I tend to remember and recognize over other talented, hard-working individuals.
Tress Macneille stands out from my childhood, as I grew up watching “Tiny Toons” and “Animaniacs.” Macneille was the perfect fit for Babs Bunny, a character whose impressions meant the actress had to do a voice impersonating another voice. The idea of that much multi-tasking scares me.
I never fail to recognize the voice of John Di Maggio. Di Maggio has played some of my favorite characters in the past 15 years. These include the evil Dr. Drakken from “Kim Possible,” ” Jake the dog on “Adventure Time” and, of course, Bender from “Futurama.”
Tara Strong makes the list for roles such as Bubbles from “Powerpuff Girls,”?Timmy Turner on “Fairly Oddparents” and Truffles on “Chowder.” It amazes me that the same person who does the sweet, innocent Bubbles can produce the obnoxiously loud Truffles.
Honorable mentions are left for H. Jon Benjamin and Brendon Small of “Home Movies,” as both are incredibly talented at playing multiple roles. Conversations on that show are often between the same voice actor and I?never realize it. Small’s work on “Metalocalypse” is a whole different level of impressive.
The king of the multiple characters title, however, goes to Billy West. He probably defined my childhood cartoon experiences without me knowing. He was both Ren and Stimpy, both Roger Klotz and Doug Funnie.
Do you realize how many conversations I?watched during my Nickelodeon programming schedule without knowing it was just one guy? I’m guessing a lot. To be perfectly honest I?didn’t even realize he voiced these characters until recently.
My favorite roles of his, however, are on “Futurama”?where he portrays Philip J. Fry, Professor Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg and Zapp Brannigan. These characters all have distinctly different voices and for him to be able to transform his voice in this manner is truly amazing.
This list, of course, does not include the hundreds of “additional voices” that actors provide to save producers money.
When you think of voice actors, these are only some of the people you should think about and recognize. If your favorite voice actor is Cameron Diaz in “Shrek” or any other celebrity in a Dreamworks flick? You just don’t get it.
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