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Backstage Experts

How Improv Makes a Better Voiceover Actor

How Improv Makes a Better Voiceover Actor
Photo Source: Shutterstock

We all know the importance of improv for actors—but did you consider that improv can also help you in your voiceover career? Here are six ways improv will make you a better voiceover actor.  Sometimes the importance of the ability to improv is not obvious and others.

  1. Auditioning
    You might be given totally different direction from the casting director than the choices with which you went into the audition. Direction is all about nuances and requires the ability to instantaneously switch out of your choices.
  2. Radio Auditions
    Radio is more personality driven than television, and can allow opportunities to be loose and broad and add your own individual humor. And two-person radio scripts almost always give you room to riff back and forth a couple of times to button off the audition.
  3. Voicing Donuts and Pretzels 
    There are times your voice has to come between other visuals or music in the script. Your voice coming in once between other actions, visuals, or music is called a donut (one hole), and several times is called a pretzel. You have to react very quickly to the last sound or visual prompt, and the director can very well tell you to change your attitude in the words you are fitting into the allotted spaces. You’ll be happy you can only rely on your well-trained improv muscle in these situations.
  4. Animation and Cartoons
    Both are extremely personality driven and move very quickly. The improv muscle in your brain will again allow you to create without judging yourself.
  5. ADR and Looping
    These two venues have many opportunities that are not scripted and you have to come up with conversations quickly to match the feel of the scene in the background of the film or TV show. No one can be considered on an ADR/looping stage who is non-scripted or is not good at improv.

With good improv skills, you can be sure to have better voiceover auditions and bookings!

Terry Berland is an L.A.-based voiceover and on-camera casting director, teacher, co-author of “Breaking Into Commercials,” and a Backstage Expert. For more information check out Berland’s full bio

Check out our voiceover audition listings and watch the video below for more voice advice!

The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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