The “Me Show”
Bringing your own show
Every established voice actor I can think of eventually develops what is essentially their own portable “trunk show” that they always have at hand and ready to use.
I call this your “Me Show.”
It’s sort of a personal bag of tricks, a sense of style, a persona, if you will, that adds up to an actor’s “show energy,” charm and unique appeal. A seasoned performer uses this to establish their presence in the whole collaborative mix at a session or audition. It helps keep things rolling along in between takes. I believe it’s an essential part of what gets you hired and rehired, too.
It’s sort of the frame to the painting that is your talent, in addition to your actual work.
This “Me Show” is what you bring to the studio in addition to your recorded vocal acting performance that gets edited and submitted. It is the rest of the package that is uniquely yours that you use to draw people to you, assert your creative power, build a sense of connection and establish trust, and most importantly, make the session more productive and fun.
It’s like a kind of fuel you bring to help power the session, sort of your own version of “star power.”
It’s different for everyone: Some captivate the room like they’re doing a standup act. Some energize a session with off-the-cuff impressions or song parody. Others are constantly putting out a weird but funny therapy show. Some bring their “sexy,” their crazy, or their cool “show.” Some are outrageous. Some are understated or stealth and just support. Some are wildly over the top and take lead. Each actor brings who they uniquely are to the session. It’s an authentic version of you that you cast for assisting with this audition.
Bringing your own little “side show” to the studio is actually part of your job, in my opinion. As you become more experienced, you hopefully develop enough self awareness to gauge and adjust the “volume” of your own version of this.
Now, you can overdo this. Unfortunately, some voice actors bring a “show” with them that detracts, confuses or puts off others (though they may not realize this). Their “set” may be too negative or needy or just needs dialing down. These performers will not get called back or work, despite their acting talents.
Why? Because they are not just hiring your work- they are also hiring you. A session is maybe, say, 20% actual acting work and 80% you and everyone else doing what you all do in between takes. You chat, joke, throw out ideas and otherwise engage. They are hiring that part of you in addition to your actual acting work.
Less experienced performers may be too tentative and bring little or nothing to the session other than a sense of wanting to please. It’s not good enough. Some fail to realize that their Me Show (or lack of one) is actually what keeps them from getting more work. Or any work at all.
Understand, this is not something forced or contrived, your “Me Show” is actually you being yourself, having fun with that, being present in your own way and bringing others along with that.
It’s important to remember that this “Me Show” must serve the audition or session, not just your personal need to be liked or feel secure. It should help marshall collaborative energy and support the group effort that is “The Audition” or “The Gig.”
The trick is to know the difference between keeping the energy up in the room (which is a good thing) and taking over the gig with self-indulgence, showing off, or excessive goofing around that strains patience of others or undermines confidence on the other side of the glass (which is bad).
You are certainly hired for your acting skill, but also for your personality, your charm, your “Show,” or whatever you want to call your ability to liven things up a bit. A “dead room” is not helpful for making something everyone feels good about.
Each gig or series requires a different mix of “Me Show” fun and focused professionalism from the ensemble. It’s work + play. Some gigs are appropriately raucous (some inappropriately raucous!) and some are necessarily tame, but they all deliver the goods, hopefully in way that is fun than all feel good about.
You want to all walk away saying to yourself, “That was great! A gas! We got it done and had such a blast!”
You find your “Me Show” by “paying your dues” over years or decades of finding your version of being an actor. Personally, I found improv, stand up and children’s theater the most helpful in gaining my own intuitive sense for gauging this, since you probably want to adjust it for each audition or gig to some extent.
In a world where talent is baseline, your “Me Show” could well be the thing that maximizes your career’s longevity. It is up to you to use your seasoned performer’s antennae and quickly size up the room (on both sides of the glass) to set the right tone of your own “Me Show.”
To sum up: Be aware that you must bring more to the session than just the performance they record– from the time you walk in to the time you leave, you are bringing a show that is uniquely and genuinely you.
See my “Whom Do You Bring to the Room” page for yet another take on this.