Posts Tagged ‘satire’

The author as a live cartoon character

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Sometimes I get to do things I enjoy for money. While I do a certain amount of voice overs in a comfy studio, last week I was asked to do some live voice for animated characters at an international conference held in the Brussels Conference Center.

This was the deal. Conferences have speakers. Between speakers there’s not much snap, or great segue, no keep awake punches. The conference’s communications guy wanted some snap and got the idea of having satirical figures introducing speakers, delivering boring conference information, and suchlike. I had a contact, Tanya Arler , who got my name in the bag, and after a conversation, I landed the gig, as did Tanya.

During the morning, I played one of the two hecklers from The Muppet Show called Statler and Waldorf. I was Waldorf, the big-jaw one. muppets
Then in the afternoon, I played the Dalai Lama using a high-pitched Chinese accent that would never ever fly in the USA as being totally un-PC. Europe is less contaminated by such niceties. Satire has a bigger bite and stronger tradition in these various necks of the EU woods (what’s the old saying in the USA theater? “Satire is what closes on opening night”).Vincent Eaton as the Dalai Lama cartoon + Arnie cartoon This photo was taken off the monitor that showed what audience saw on the auditorium screen.

The performer who did the other voice sitting next to me was Olivier Schalbroeck a Belgian improv pro and we had a lot of fun sparking off each other and messing with the script. He played the other muppet and Arnie.

Here’s the technicalities. Software was used that, as I spoke into the microphone, the mouth of the character moved and the audience heard it simultaneously and, if all went well, they were entertained and laughed. For various facial movements, two techies, one per character, had joysticks and could make the eyebrows, cheeks, hairline and lots more move. Techies watching monitors & cartoon set-up Here you see the techies with 1) a joystick, 2) a screen for the characters, 3) bottom screen of the audience, and 4) camera shot of the stage.) It’s compact, workable and a bit flying by the seat of one’s pants.

Ideally one has a single director in such events. But we got three, which is always a generally awful idea. First the Communications Guy organizing the conference came in early and told us to add things to the script and interact with the audience and mock the speakers, and be daring, try things, shake it up. After we got going in the morning, our producer who put this all together, Dimitri Oosterlynck of Magicworlds, wore a headset and squatted next to us listening to suggestions/commands coming from the head booth telling us, bit by bit, not to interact with the audience so much, then skip the interacting with the conference speakers unless they did so first, not to be so “aggressive” and in short, by the afternoon, don’t be daring or shake it up. Dimitri tried to guide us as well, more gently, screening us from the client. But with three directors, three directions, and then us two talented meatballs, Olivier and me, trying to tiptoe gigantically between them and pleasing everyone and getting blander and more beige as the day wore on.

Here’s a photo I took off the monitor showing the excited looking audience seated in the conference center of Brussels.Audience in monitor waiting for Vincent Eaton to perform as cartoon character

Here’s the stage (photo off monitor again) where the cartoon characters would appear on the right when we were “on”. Stage screen

We were asked to write, then re-write the script according to what was being said by a speaker. This photo is a shot of the desk/table I sat at. script table of Vincent EatonThere are two microphones: one for making the mouth of the character move, the other to be heard in the hall. There’s the folder of the event. Pages of the script. A yellow marker, to mark My Words so I would say them and not my partner’s. A pen to add jokes and scratch out jokes and rewrite again and then wait for someone to direct me after I had said it and ell me not to be so daring, or quite so long, the next time.

Overall, it was a success, I was told. The Talent just had to be in permanent creative adjustment mode from morning to late afternoon. And it was a great energy suck. Five minutes of action, 30 or 60 or 90 minutes of wait around while a speech was made or panel discussion went on. Repeat for nine hours.

Business & Identity – a story on finding yourself through business

Friday, January 15th, 2010

How to findThis week I offered a somewhat serious side to business, called The Job Interview. Today, a more humorous (or still somewhat serious?) story about a man who wants to find himself in business.

This story to read here is from my How To Find Yourself humor book. It is called Business & Identity. Or how to find yourself through business.

We’re just trying to keep the universe in balance here….


About my Reader Testimonial video for my “How To Find Yourself” Book

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Weird Muttering Motor Scooter guy gives book the thumbs up

Here’s the link to the video:

Recently I put out a “Teaser” video, as they say in the industry. That video was meant to tease you into wanting to see (or can’t-wait-to-see) this video. Now you how how great creative minds work in the promotional world.

Except I found when editing that there’s just way too much good material that didn’t fit. So this video is one in a line of more videos coming your way. All right, just call me a one big unending tease.

The idea is to have some fun doing this. Amuse viewers giving of their time & attention. And if someone somewhere down the road purchases my creative little nugget, so much the better.

For the time being, it’s just fun spreading the word.

The idea behind this video is: when some videos on book launches came my way online, I’d look (I fancied up this activity by calling it research). There’s lots of mostly earnest videos out there. Videos that work hard to brand and market and “share” in the name of selling. They made my eyes go ouch. I recall one, obviously held at some swank New York launch party, where people were herded into some corner of some bar with music and launch-party merriment going on off-screen. One after another extolled the virtues of some book about being the best thing on publishing “in years”. And “this book breaks down the barriers…” And, “a defining moment in–” — can’t write anymore of this. My keyboard gags.

Right then I said, I have to make me one of those testimonials video thingies. But turn it right on its head. As it deserves. And since my book is about a bunch of so-called made-up experts delivering their self-help wisdom and weird silliness, this Testimonial Video should do just that. (Italics & bold are my ideas of blog Hollywood lights flashing through the night sky.)

Then I asked 24 people to volunteer for this. 20 stood tall. Three others showed initial eagerness but died by the wayside. Another was in a distant country.

And it was because of this, the actors and friends giving so happily and fully to my ideas and what-the-fuck-try-this directions, that I decided to write & direct another play for March 2010.

Thanks for reading this, and hey, leave your damn messages right below here. This is a blog. Yell at me. I’ll yell back. (Or Add Comment at the YouTube link.)

Here (again) is the link…in case you’re too lazy to go back to the beginning of this blog. If you like it, there’s more videos to come. If you don’t like it, well, then I’ll cry myself to sleep. And wake refreshed.

Link to video

Oh–book’s cover, i.e. brand-market-share.

How to find yourself (or a reasonable facsimile) - cover