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Ask Futurama Star Billy West About...? 199

Posted by Roblimo
from the is-this-really-happening-or-just-being-staged dept.
In case you haven't heard, Futurama is coming back — in like 2008, so don't go channel-flipping in hope quite yet. This is the first interview Billy West (who voices Fry, Prof. Farnsworth, Zapp Brannigan, Zoidberg, and other Futurama characters) has done since the announcement. Realize, too, that Billy has also been the voices of Ren and Stimpy and hundreds of other animated characters over the years, and old-school Howard Stern fans will remember that part of his career, too. Ask Billy about anything you like; we'll send him 10 top-moderated questions (and maybe he'll answer a few extra ones of his choice, too). We expect to post his answers Wednesday, the day after Freedom Day's 21st Century predecessor, the 4th of July (which, sadly, is not known for nude hot tub parties). Meanwhile, to tide you over, here's a little MP3 voice montage Billy did in his home studio just for Slashdot.
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Ask Futurama Star Billy West About...?

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:02PM (#15628768) Journal
    I can think of a lot of things I'd like to ask him. Pick which ever one seems best.

    First I'll state my question in the form of a question: What do you think it is that gives Futurama such a unique kind of humor? Do you think that only a small part of the population finds Futurama funny?

    More specifically, I enjoy the humor in Futurama. Maybe it's because I'm a nerd and appreciate the N-NP references or maybe it's because I read a lot and I like obscure references (or perhaps even the two are inherently married). What I can't seem to understand is why I like Futurama so much.

    You do a great job on the voices and the writing is pretty good. But every so often there will just be these little "intellectual" jokes left and right that just make me laugh every time I see them. Some shows try to be scientific and just dribble the facts down the leg of their pants. It annoys me to no end. Futurama seems to manage to make fun of itself and in the process keep me entertained.

    I don't want to sound like a snob but I wonder if Futurama suffers from being too genre or personality specific. Does it target only graduate level people with its nerdy humor?
    --
    I'd also like to ask a second question: Do you select what shows you work on by their quality?

    You've been in a lot of my favorite shows as a voice actor ever since I was a kid. I've also noticed that from your IMDB entry [imdb.com] that you really stick to some genuinely funny shows. There are some where I've never found the shows funny but that's just me. I've always wondered if you only like to do shows that you yourself find funny. Do you think that many people in your business do this? I mean, assuming you're not starving and dying for work.
    --
    Third question: Why do you think Futurama was cancelled?
    --
    Fourth Question: What were your favorite voices you've done? What were your most hated?
    --
    Fifth Question: When you're approached to do a voice for a show, how is the type of voice (sound, texture, pitch, etc) determined? Is there a line of people ready to do their interpretation of a character? Do you come up with your own idea based on the character's personality and then sit there refining it with the show's creators/writers? What does this process entail? Do you think of someone you know with the same personality and mimic their voice as a base for the character? If not, where do you get your ideas from?
    --
    Sixth Question: What made you want to do voice acting as a profession? It must not be very glamorous if the only way a fan could recognize you is by your voice, why'd you choose it?
    --
    Seventh Question: What exercises (if any) do you use to warm up your voice when you perform? Is it just something you're naturally good at or do you go through daily techniques and practicing like a musician or singer?
    --
    Eighth Question: Have you ever used computer enhancements for your voices? Does this ever occur?
    • Leave something for the rest of us to aks. Sheesh!

      [Dear Grammar/Spelling Nazis: the above misspelling is intentional and is keeping in the spirit of the article.]
    • by Ithika (703697) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:14PM (#15628868) Homepage

      I'm a nerd and appreciate the N-NP references

      Each to their own I suppose. I appreciated the P-NP references.

    • Dude, you're doing it all wrong. You don't put all your good dope in one single post. You gotta spread it out. You've got eight questions? That means you can get eight separately up-modded posts if you play your cards right. It pains me to see someone waste an opportunity to milk their ideas for all the karma/recognition they can get. You've obviously never been a post-doc and been under pressure to churn out N papers each year... :)

      GMD

    • Save Me From Myself (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Hate to respond to my own post but I'd like a few of my questions omitted after reading The Billy West FAQ [billywest.com] (as mentioned in a later post in this thread [slashdot.org]).

      I would like to omit the fourth question or at least the first half of it as he answers on his FAQ:

      Of all the characters you've played, which one is your favorite?
      Fry on Futurama and Stimpson J. Cat.

      And he kind of answers my sixth question:

      Did you always want to be a voice actor, or is it something you just fell into?
      As a child I was a

    • I don't want to sound like a snob but I wonder if Futurama suffers from being too genre or personality specific. Does it target only graduate level people with its nerdy humor?

      I've heard/seen such references to Futurama before, and I can only wonder, what the heck are you talking about?

      I love Futurama; I laugh at Futurama; I'm exciting there will be more Futurama. But I would never describe Futurama as "intellectual" or "graduate level" humor.

      Due to the setting--1000 years in the future--Futurama has

      • eldavojohn, if that's his real name, is refering to things discussed here [sciencenews.org], and, wait . . . OMG, by George, right here! [slashdot.org]. Read the articles reported on so kindly by /. and you'll understand which humor he's refering to. Funny (to me at least, I'm sure not you), your post rather answers his own question well.

        PS - don't call people idiots, sir. That's really really mean.
        • I guess some heads (and brows) are in different places than others.

          Yes, there is a lot of actual science and math thrown into Futurama scripts. But that fact doesn't negate my comments. Simply put, it's not the science and math that make the show funny. Actually, Yocto Yotta's links remind me how unfunny smart people can be. There's nothing wrong with being smart, but smart in-and-of-itself does not a joke make.

          For example, they did the actual calculations to compute Fry's bank account balance afte

          • The intellectual humor is more then just science and math.
            Great literature is referenced, history, religion. It is ripe with it.
            Then there is the language puzzle, and the time travel to save the universe for ongoing thought.
  • by Manip (656104) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:05PM (#15628790)
    Do you have copyright permission to use the Futurama theme in that sound recording you made? ... And are you scared of the RIAA?
    • Billy was sent that by Lrrr from Omicron Persei 8 while Lrrr and Nd-Nd were waiting to watch
      another episode of Single White Female Lawyer. You will need to take it
      up with Lrrr and tell Lrrr he's possibly violating Earth's circa 2k copyright laws.
      Lrrr will be glad to help you sort it all out, hes understanding and compassionate.
      If you hear him wanting harvest any of your horns though I would probably drop your
      query and hide.

    • by toastyman (23954) <toasty@dragondata.com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:14PM (#15629532) Homepage
      Just so this doesn't become a whole sub-topic of its own... I'm the guy who suggested to Billy that he do an interview on Slashdot, and hooked him up with Roblimo.

      Billy and I had some doubts if you guys would believe it was really him answering the questions or not. So, I got him to call me, record his voice through some Asterisk fun over our T1 PRI, and quickly edited what he did into something that didn't have as many noticeable dropouts or crackles since he had to call me on a cell phone due to the very short notice. (This is why the audio quality is so bad.) I whipped it up, added a few second of the theme, and gave it to Roblimo. So, don't blame Billy for the use of the theme song.

      However, I believe this would fall under fair use. And even if it didn't, I think it's unlikely that the company that owns the rights to the theme (which I really doubt is an RIAA member) would go after someone for using a few seconds of a song in connection of directly promoting the show when one of the cast members is directly involved.

      Good question, but nothing to do with Billy I'm afraid. :)
  • Ren and Stimpy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302)
    > Realize, too, that Billy has also been the voices of Ren and Stimpy

    When the studio fired the show's creator, sure. That was when it sucked. Hardly his finest hour.
    • Billy was always the voice of Stimpy. He began voicing Ren when John Kricfalusi was fired. Not that you didn't know that, but your post didn't make that clear.
    • Do you have cats, and do they use Gritty Kitty brand litter?
    • Re:Ren and Stimpy (Score:4, Informative)

      by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:32PM (#15629027)
      When the studio fired the show's creator, sure. That was when it sucked. Hardly his finest hour.

      You obviously didn't see the infamous Son Of Stimpy episode which played some role in the decision to fire the creator. I've never in my life seen a sorrier piece of animation than that episode. The episode was created only to stick it to Nickelodeon. Anyone who thinks this episode has any merit at all is quite blunty an idiot. Had I been an executive at Nickelodeon at the time and seen this episode, I not only would have fired creator John Kricfalusi for it, I would have tried to sue him to recover the costs of making it.

      For those unfamilair with Ren And Stimpy you can consider this episode to be the forerunner of Mr. Handy on South Park , but made as devoid of humor and entertainment as possible.
      • You obviously didn't see the infamous Son Of Stimpy episode which played some role in the decision to fire the creator. I've never in my life seen a sorrier piece of animation than that episode. The episode was created only to stick it to Nickelodeon. Anyone who thinks this episode has any merit at all is quite blunty an idiot. Had I been an executive at Nickelodeon at the time and seen this episode, I not only would have fired creator John Kricfalusi for it, I would have tried to sue him to recover the c
  • freedom freedom freedom oy! Patriot's day is when they run the Boston marathon. freedom freedom freedom oy!
  • Getting in the Biz (Score:4, Interesting)

    by The Iconoclast (24795) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:08PM (#15628806)
    I've always been good at doing goofy voices and what not. I was a real hit with my younger cousins and kids I babysat, and it has always been a secret dream of mine to get my name in the "With the voices of" section of a cartoon, if only once. How does one break into voiceacting? Do you have any advice for an aspiring voice actor?
    • Well, you can always try through the Activision contest [marvelulti...liance.com] to be the voice of Sub-Mariner.

      Another route might to be contact local production companies that do TV and Radio voiceover ads for products. Maybe do a short demo CD of your talents? I know even for a few 30-second radio spots you can make a couple of hundred dollars.

    • by Hogwash McFly (678207) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:22PM (#15628932)
      From Billy West's FAQ:

      What advice do you have for someone trying to get into voice acting?
      "Have a recording studio do a professional demo tape of straight reads and character voices. They usually have all the stuff for you work with on your demo. Always consider critiques of your performances. You take the demo and try to get an interview with a commercial talent agency for them to listen to. Try everywhere. I started in radio and got a job doing VO's in 1980 after the star of the morning show heard it. I worked for free at first and then it turned into a paying part-time job. Try stations to see if any of the shows need a good voice person. Radio shows are most likely to use a person that can do political figures or celebrities. They mostly rely on their on-air talent to read the straight stuff or let the production director do it. It's a good idea to think about re-locating to where the industry is, namely New York or LA, even though it's frightening.

      When I left my hometown there were a few guys that called me after they heard me in a cartoon or saw me on TV or in a commercial doing voices. "Wow man, what's it like to have a job like that? Must be nothin' but tits and ice cream!" All I said was "Hey, I took the risks you guys never did. You got married too early and had kids and got steady jobs and took the safe path of least resistance. I had the balls to get in in a business of 90unemployment and bet on myself. I did real well but there were no guarantees of even a small success. I was a gunslinger that wouldn't listen to advice and got lucky. But so could you."
  • Your projects (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AiY (175830) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:09PM (#15628814) Homepage
    I saw something a few months back about a project you were trying to get off the ground called "Billy Bastard - Amateur Human Being". It sounded like a great premise and promised me something better than most television. Any updates? Air dates? General info?
  • by ak_hepcat (468765) <leif@den[ ].net ['ali' in gap]> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:10PM (#15628826) Homepage Journal
    Who are some of your favorite voice actors to work with, obviously not limited to just the Futurama cast,
    and what are your favorite moments or stories with them?
    • by dr_dank (472072) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:57PM (#15629324) Homepage Journal
      This leads to a bigger question: does Billy actually get to work with his castmates? Especially on an ensamble show like the Simpsons, its extremely common to have voice actors record their bits at different studios or at different times of day.

      When the cast of the Simpsons did "Inside the Actors Studio" a couple of years ago, they joked that that was one of the few times in the run of the series that the cast was all in the same room together at the same time.
      • Yes, voice actors seldom record at the same time. For specially timed interchanges, such as an argument or other passionate / heated dialog, they'll do it at the same time sometimes, but other than that... they're all in the vocal booth one at a time, just reading lines.

        Voice acting and real acting are extremely similar in concept. The execution is nothing close though...


      • This leads to a bigger question: does Billy actually get to work with his castmates?

        Interesting that you bring up 'other castmates'. When Futurama was first developed, several other voice actors had created the sound of the different characters' voices. Then they went on strike demanding larger salaries. The producers found Billy West was versatile enough to imitate the other actors' voices for the characters, so they fired the other voice actors and hired Billy West. They had Billy and one of the other
  • by RyanFenton (230700) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:12PM (#15628852)
    As a voice actor, what level of input do you prefer when chosing between jobs? Do you prefer to fully understand the universe you project a character into with as much information as your clients can provide, or do you prefer to focus on just what you need to know?

    How much of a role do you like to play in shaping the worlds you play a part in?

    Similarly, what level of informational feedback do you think is appropriate from producers?

    Ryan Fenton
  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:15PM (#15628877)
    Leela or Amy?
  • by grub (11606)

    Like really? Like that'd be like cool when it like returns...
  • by I_Jonny_I (978584) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:16PM (#15628883)
    not that I knew who the voice guy for all my favorite cartoon characters was. But really, you must get some mad pussy with your Zoidberg voice.
  • by at-b (31918) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:17PM (#15628890) Homepage
    Good news, everyone!

    If you read Billy West's FAQ before asking a question, you won't repeat things that he's been asked before, and make us all look like a bunch of uneducated monkeys without cooling hats!

    And that wouldn't be good news at all!

    http://www.billywest.com/index4.htm [billywest.com] is where you find his FAQ. I've already seen a post moderated to 5 that asked questions answered there.

  • Someone posted this clip on YouTube of a Futurama promo for Al Gores new movie [youtube.com]. Great stuff

    I didn't know this but Al Gores daughter, Kristin Gore [imdb.com] is a writer for Futurama. Fun trivia for the day!

  • by Lev13than (581686) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:20PM (#15628913) Homepage
    In a cage match of you vs. Hank Azaria, who would win? How about your characters vs. Hank's characters? What if it was in jello instead of a cage?
  • Who is returning? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:22PM (#15628933)
    Besides the excellent voice talent, who else is coming back for the next run? The writing was great on Futurama, and many people are concerned about the quality of the show if the writers don't return. Will most of the original writers be returning?
  • New Series: Writers (Score:5, Interesting)

    by justinstreufert (459931) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:24PM (#15628945) Homepage
    Billy --

    We've heard a lot about the original voice actors who are returning to Futurama. This is great, and I believe it is absolutely essential to the success of the new season. However, what about the other staff? Are the writers of the Fox episodes returning for the new season? Is there anyone who isn't coming back to the show who you'll miss?

    Thanks! Can't wait for the new season!! Can I be cryogenically frozen until 2008?
  • Phil Hartman (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oliver Defacszio (550941) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:24PM (#15628947)
    Hey there, Thanks for doing this interview. The character of Zapp Brannigan was apparently created specifically for Phil Hartman, and the style of voice that you use for this character has a ton of similarities to how Hartman performed his Simpsons character voices. Did you purposely take on Hartman's swaggery vocal style as a tribute or something, or is it just what suited the Brannigan character the best? Thanks again.
    • From the Zap Brannigan [wikipedia.org] entry:
      On the Futurama DVD commentary, Groening reveals that Zapp's character and mannerisms were established in Billy West's original audition for the character, and any similarity to Phil Hartman or his other well known cartoon characters (Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure), is simply coincidence.
      • by Thad Boyd (880932) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:09PM (#15629474) Homepage

        Via TV Squad [tvsquad.com]:

        JK: Did Zapp Brannigan change much? Because I saw the first episode he was in and it sounded pretty much like how he sounded later.

        BW: Did he change? Um, I don't know, I try to keep it pretty consistent. Phil Hartman was supposed to do that character, and I was imitating Phil Hartman. I knew Phil Hartman; when I came to work with him on some commercials and stuff out here in Hollywood, we both had this real fascination and love for these big, old-time dumb announcers. You know, the guys who have their balls in a wheelbarrow and think that every word is so precious that it's hard to give birth to it, like everything comes out in four syllables instead of one. Guys who think far and away that of everything else in this universe, he loves his voice. So that's what was going on with him. He's modeled after a couple of big dumb announcers I knew.

        Fry was named after Phil. Phillip Fry.

        Somebody go correct the Wikipedia entry.
    • Re:Phil Hartman (Score:3, Interesting)

      Speaking of Phil Hartman, Have The Simpsons producers approached you about voicing Troy McClure, or conversely have you approached them? Phil's death, while tragic, should not be the end of Troy McClure any more than (say) Yeardley Smith's death (heaven forbid!) would mean the end of Lisa Simpson. Put another way Would you voice Troy McClure if The Simpsons producers offered you the role?
      • Phil's death, while tragic, should not be the end of Troy McClure any more than (say) Yeardley Smith's death (heaven forbid!) would mean the end of Lisa Simpson.

        Blasphemy! Long Live the irreplacable Yeardley Smith. (The world needs the wisdom of Herman's Head now, more than ever!)

  • by 88NoSoup4U88 (721233) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:25PM (#15628957) Homepage
    What other cartoon do you really enjoy? And what cartoon (either classic, or still being made) would you like to do voices for? And of course, why?

    And keep up the good work.
  • Hello Billy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by palad1 (571416) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:25PM (#15628962)
    Can I axe you a couple of questions ?

    Did you get a chance to listen to any international version of Futurama, and what did you think of the performance of the voice actors?

    Which brings me to the following question: Did you ever do voiceovers for a foreign production, say, a turkish sitcom , and if so, what kind were the challenges you were faced with?

    Cheers,
    Palad1,
    Foreigner
  • "Pirates" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheRequiem13 (978749) <therequiem@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:25PM (#15628963)
    How you you (not your eomployers) feel about consumers downloading episodes of Futurama and watching them on their personal computers or portable media player of choice?
    In particular, I mean those that pay for cable TV, but don't enjoy being bombarded with ads interupting the shows every 5 minutes, and find major network schedules highly restrictive.
  • Voice alterations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MagicDude (727944) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:26PM (#15628966)
    How do you (and other voice actors) go about fine tuning the voices you use? The voice of the professor in the first few episodes of futurama is somewhat different than the voice that the professor had for most of the series. I imagine there was similar tweaking of other characters as well, but they aren't as noticiable to an untrained listner such as I. How do you decide what kind of tweaking is needed in the voices as a series progresses? Is it personal preference, or are you directed to change the voice based on viewer feedback?
    • It's interesting -- you have the same thing with the Simpsons, the Flintstones, Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig. It always seems to take a half-season to full season (or the equivalent number of cinema shorts) to settle down.

      In fact, you see the same thing on live-action shows also, where the actors need a season to find the right style of speech. That show where Leela had two eyes and was married to a shoe salesman comes to mind.

      • No kidding. Remember the pilot of Star Trek TNG?

        Giordi LaForge: "Hooo-eee!"

        Fortunately they fine-turned that little quirk out of the character immediately.
  • Check out his messageboard and ask him anything you like, especially since the chance that your question will be picked as one of those ten is very unlikely?
  • Have you ever personally traveled back in time and had sex with your grandmother?

    If so, how was it?
  • Voices (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Robotron23 (832528) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:27PM (#15628979) Homepage
    I have a relatively simple, but vital question for Billy:

    Way back when Futurama began in 1999, did the creators and producers specify fairly specifically how they wanted your various parts to sound? Or did you maintain a relative degree of autonomy when coming up with all the great voices we know and love?

    Can't wait for the new episodes; if they are nearly as good as the 3rd and 4th seasons we'll all be grateful. The simple, sardonic humor and geek references can draw on so many new phenomena of the past three years. Let's hope the cynicism is utterly dispeled and that Futurama hasn't even thought about the shark, let alone jumped it as some persons say.
  • by MechaShiva (872964) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:27PM (#15628981)
    When you say you recorded that mp3 in your studio, did you mean answering machine?
  • Writing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by captnitro (160231) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:28PM (#15628986)
    Do/did you ever get to work with the writers on material, or improvise something on your own that makes it into the show? It seems like separating the inherent humor of many of the voices (Zoidberg comes to mind) and the way they speak, and the written material itself, would be hard.
  • by roryrhorerton (977993) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:28PM (#15628987) Homepage
    Having been taken off the air and brought back years later, do you fear a decline in quality in new episodes of Futurama? (A condition known as Family Guy Syndrome?) Is it better to end a series while it is still fresh, or to risk a decline is quality in order to bring something to the fans that still has life in it? (That's not two questions, that's one question in two parts)
  • The Web (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ThePolkapunk (826529) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:30PM (#15629007) Homepage
    You're one of the few actors I know of with a web site that includes the actor's involvment. How import do you think this has been in your career and continued fame? Do you think this will become important for all successful actors to have?

    How important do you feel the internet has been in the success of Futurama? I know there are tons references to fan posting's and web sites on the Futurama DVD's. Do you think Futurama episodes online contributed to the continuing success of Futurama after it was cancelled? I'm sure there are plenty of people who weren't significantly exposed to Futurama until the episodes began making their way online...
  • Production Values (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Lave (958216) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:31PM (#15629020)
    One of the first things I noticed with Futurama was the quality of the animation, sound and the whole kit and kaboodle. Clearly it's an expensive show - to what extent was that due to the money being flung at it? Will there be an inssue maintaining this quality?

    P.S. - I don't care if there is - crayon drawings will do if it gets to come back.

    P.P.S. - Slashdot hosting an mp3? Can slashdot slashdot itself?

  • by mothoc (307671) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:34PM (#15629038)
    Do you take requests from people to have you say something in a character's voice? For example, if someone asked you to say, "Good news everyone! We've been hired to deliver this giant mutant octopus to Hentai 9, the schoolgirl planet" in the voice of Professro Farnsworth, would you consider it?
  • by soren42 (700305) * <jNO@SPAMson-kay.com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:35PM (#15629049) Homepage Journal
    So, answer the question Tress always avoids...

    Does being a famous, well-known, prolific voice actor get you the kudos, bennies, fame, and fortune being a live-action (TV/Movie) actor does?

    You've worked with many, know many (I'm certain), and probably have a lot of exposure to the Hollywood "scene" - and no doubt have an opinion on this. In short, does being Fry get you the babes? :)

    Seriously, that's a little tongue-in-cheek, but do you actually have a similar public life to Katey Sagal? Good - instant recognition, fan mobs, free swag, etc. - and bad - instant recognition, fan mobs, constantly being asked for autographs and free swag, etc.?

    Thanks - love your work, especially the way you bring zoidberg's understated, self-deprecating humor to life with your portrayal. Glad to have you back from syndication!
  • Your voice? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DamienMcKenna (181101) <{moc.annek-cm} {ta} {neimad}> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:37PM (#15629075)
    What does your normal voice sound like? Given that you've done so many different character voices, do you ever get stuck and "forget" what your normal voice is supposed to be? Silly bonus question: if you forgot what your normal voice was supposd to be, which of the many character voices do you think you'd like to have instead?

    Damien
    • He's said on the DVD commmentaries (in his normal voice, of course) that Fry's voice is just his own voice, but a bit higher to make it sound thirty years younger.

  • Leave it at the beep (Score:5, Interesting)

    by El_Smack (267329) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:39PM (#15629098)

    What's the message on your answering machine?
  • (which, sadly, is not known for nude hot tub parties)

    I have had many nude hot tub parties on the 4th. Well, until I got married.
  • by aleksiel (678251)
    Were you born vocally gifted, or did you start out like everyone else and practiced to achieve greatness?
  • by FrenchSilk (847696) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:49PM (#15629214)
    Is there a voice actor bar somewhere in Hollywood where you and guys like Jim Cummings, Mark Hamill, Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria, and Seth McFarlane sit around, tip a few, speak in character, and mock Issac Hayes?
  • Do you think you could get me Leela's communicator number? That purple hair and giant eye make me feel funny in my pants. OK, and the big tits too. Of course I'd need to find a way to was the Zapp Branigan stank off her first.
  • Sirius (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dr_dank (472072) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:51PM (#15629241) Homepage Journal
    Has Howard Stern or any other representative of Sirius Satellite radio approached you about doing a show there?

  • It's a kind of weird situation:
    you wanted Futurama to be back
    the audience wanted Futurama to be back

    Yet there is a finite number of TV channels and 24hours per day... so even a profitable show can be voted of screen it there are some more profitable shows... You did consider a DVD release which I think is still on track, but should the opportunity have arisen, would you have considered:

    - airing on the internet

    - not being financed by a classical production compan
  • by futuretaikonaut (772613) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:12PM (#15629519)
    I am interested in learning about the writing process of a typical Futurama episode. Given the obscure nature of some of the more geek-prone jokes (e.g. "Announcer: ...and horse X finishes in a quantum finish! Farnworth: No fair! You changed the outcome by measuring it!"), it would seem that the writers of the show were more inclined to make inside jokes for geeks than for a more mainstream audience. Was it difficult to find a balance between the two audiences? Where there producers who allowed you such leeway? What would you suggest for artists and writers who want to create things that appeal to niche audiences and yet can still be accessible to the masses?
  • Mr. West...

    Loved your slashdot reel.

    Please answer our questions in an MP3 using your favorite character voices :)
  • by Gudlyf (544445) <gudlyf@nOSPAm.realistek.com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:26PM (#15629674) Homepage Journal
    <shameless plug>
    We did the last interview [tvsquad.com] before the announcement over on TV Squad. :) He was very cool enough to do an intro for one of our podcasts [tvsquad.com], too, complete with most of his voices. You know, to hold you over and stuff.
    </shameless plug>
  • Home Studio? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ickypoo (568859) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:30PM (#15629722)
    Billy,

    Given the sound quality of that montage, it would appear that your 'home studio' is actually the voice mail on your cell phone.

    But seriously. I just watched the documentary "My Date With Drew", and was treated to a nice little segment with an appearance by (I believe) voiceover artist George Del Hoyo. We get to see his home studio: a computer, a microphone, some preamps and compressors. What *is* your home studio like? Do you record at home often, or in roundtables with other actors? What microphone do you find suits your voice best? Do you have a favorite piece of recording equipment?
  • Billy, Do you retain ownership of the voice characterizations you create or does that go to your employer?
  • What do you do on your spare time? If you play video games, what are your favourites?
  • I'm sure you have a professional opinion on which animated shows are done better, but are there any you don't work on but especially enjoy? Part Duex: I read an interview with Trey Parker where he got extremely insulted when the interviewer compared South Park to Family Guy. Apparently he felt Family Guy was essentially a hack (even before the new episodes). Is there a lot of that my-cartoon-is-better-than-yours in the voice acting biz?
  • In the earliest episodes Bender's alcoholism was portrayed as a vice rather than the necessary fuel for his power cells and Leela was portrayed as an alien rather than a mutant. The general feel of the episodes make me feel that these are two examples of unplanned morphing of the scenario - at what point was alcohol changed from vice to energy for Bender and when was it decided that Leela was to be a mutant rather than alien? What other unplanned morphs were thrown into the mix?
  • So, does the Honey Nut Cheerios bee have any deep, dark secrets he'd like to get out in the open? Anything to do with the fact that honey bee drones are all female?

Man must shape his tools lest they shape him. -- Arthur R. Miller

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