After the fun drawing panel, it was time for the fun voice acting panel. Mr. Evanier also happens to be a cartoon voice director, and he gets a group of voice actors together every year for this panel. This year, the panel included Chuck McCann, James Arnold Taylor, Laraine Newman, Bill Farmer, and two other people whose last names we never caught. While we're enamoured with voice acting in general, we were mostly there to see Bill Farmer, who plays Goofy. We also discovered that one of the people whose last name we didn't catch is the guy who talks to you on Space Mountain, so that was very exciting, too. When they introduced themselves, they demonstrated some of their more well-known roles, and it was amazing to watch Bill Farmer turn into Goofy. It's pretty amazing all around, just hearing them switch from voice to voice and back again without losing track of character or anything, but the Goofy transformation was something else. Just the whole aura around Mr. Farmer changed, like he was transfigured or something. That didn't really happen when he did any other voices, either. Maybe it's just the incredible power of the character? I don't know. It's especially intriguing because Bill Farmer's regular voice isn't that different than Goofy's.
Laraine Newman confessed to having a terrible memory and having to go to IMDb while all the others were introducing themselves to remind herself who she's played. While she was listing things, the guy next to her, who will now be referred to as Mr. Space Mountain (I'm sorry!), said, "Weren't we in Ponyo together?" And that's when she remembered that she decided, after hearing how dubs tend to be so flat and stilted and bad, that she would revolutionize the anime dub and do a fantastic, natural-sounding job. But as she did it, she realized that the way Japanese and English work, it was impossible, and she sounded just like all the other bad dub parodies you hear. (She demonstrated, but that won't quite work in text.) We're determined that it is possible to make it work (Alexander O. Smith has come close with some of the Final Fantasy dubbing), so we started wondering how to get a job like Mr. Evanier's.
There was a little bit of talk about the famous people they'd all gotten to work with. Mr. Farmer talked about doing some celebrity Disney thing every year, and one year the guest was Ed McMahonn, so the late Wayne Allwine told Mr. McMahonn that Mr. Farmer can do a great Johnny Carson impression, which he then had to do. I can imagine that being very intimidating. And then they had him do the voice on the actual broadcast. There was also talk about how video games are really hard to do, because you have to record every different way your character might possibly die.
For the panel, Mr. Evanier had prepared a script to have all the voice actors read. None of them had seen it before, and there were like fifteen characters, so they of course had to demonstrate their voice abilities by playing several different roles. To make it even harder, they had to come up with even more voices, because Mr. Evanier would randomly call out "change," and they would have to read the line again with a different voice. The script was from an old 50's Superman radio play, and it started out with Jor-El arguing with all the elders about Krypton being about to die. Bill Farmer played all the elders, and Chuck McCann played Jor-El. Mr. Evanier called out "change" on a Jor-El line, and suddenly he sounded a lot like Richard Simmons. Then there was some ad-libbing (Mr. Farmer even said once (probably so the audience would realize), "Hey, that's not in my script!"), like when Jor-El was talking to his wife and said, "I knew there would be some doubts, like there were about our marriage..." It was very strange.
There was some talk about using voice powers for good. (I don't remember what led to it; it wasn't that weird-sounding at the actual panel.) Mr. Farmer talked about one thing that really impressed him--as a Disney character voice, he does a lot of work with the Make A Wish Foundation and things like that, where the Disney characters will talk to kids and encourage them and stuff. One time, there was a little girl with leukemia who refused to take the treatment, but Wayne Allwine talked to her as Mickey Mouse and told her things like, "Well, you know, Pluto always takes his medicine when he's sick." And they later found out that the girl was willingly going through all her treatment and the cancer went into remission all because of that one phone call.
Then Mr. Evanier told about how Lorenzo Music, who had voiced Garfield, used to work nights at a suicide prevention hotline. So guys would call and tell him about how they just couldn't go on anymore, and he would talk to him and they'd hear him and say, "You know, you sound a lot like that cat on TV." And he would talk them out of committing suicide as Garfield.
Mr. Evanier also told about how voice actors are the nicest people in the world. Like once a guy came for a part and then asked if he could record again within the next month because his daughter was sick and he couldn't afford to lose his SAG insurance. So all the other voice actors started talking, "We need to get this guy a job," and stuff. Also, there would be times when he'd call an actor to play a role, and the actor would say, "Yeah, I can do it, but I know a guy who really needs the work. Let him do it, and if it doesn't work out I'll come in and record the lines for free." It was pretty amazing.
After the panel, we went up to the front to get Mr. Space Mountain's autograph (we still can't read his last name). He wrote on it "Welcome back, space travelers," because that was the line that really made him think, "What the heck?" And we got Bill Farmer's autograph, of course. The greatest thing about this is that the only thing we had for people to sign, by pure coincidence, was a Disneyland autograph book.
Mr. Evanier was really playing up the June Foray panel that would be later. We hadn't really been planning on going to it, but we've always enjoyed Rocky & Bullwinkle, and she's in so much stuff that we've enjoyed lots of her work, so we figured, since we didn't have anything else planned, we might as well go. So that's where we went next. But now it's time for another break.
And now it's time to goof off while we wait to find out if we're going to have that DDR party tonight or not. I called Mom twice today but couldn't get through either time. I just hope we manage to find out before dinner, because otherwise they'll probably show up to pick us up right after I put it in the oven.
Today I'm thankful for getting to meet Bill Farmer, getting to meet Mr. Space Mountain, a chance encounter (by which I mean we were standing around waiting for people to get their annual passport stuff taken care of and it was staring at us the whole time) with a Disneyland souvenir stand that caused us to buy an autograph book which I've since been carrying around in the fanny pack for no particular reason (Athena thinks the reason is that is fits inside) thus giving us something for the awesome voice actors to sign, it being cool enough at night for opening the windows to make a difference, and now being free to goof off.