Voice Over Education Blog

Welcome to the Voice Over Blog

Welcome to the blog designed for anyone investigating, starting, and building their voice over career.

Here you'll find practical articles written to help you skip the "trial and error" often associated with pursuing and building a career, and instead gain a candid look into the voice over industry, where the work is, why some people get it, why some don't, and tips and techniques to help you reach your goals.

Remember that your voice, interests, and potential are unique. For this reason, our articles provide multiple ideas and scenarios so that you can make the right decision for your career.

Feel welcome to share any experiences and comments by posting them below each post. We're always glad to listen to you. After all, listening is what we do best!

What's the right way to deliver a humorous VO line? Part 3 of 3

NOTE: This is the third post in a 3-part article. Click to read Part 1 and Part 2.

There's a wrong way to tell a joke. But there's often more than one right way. Part of what makes the "right" way work is that it coincides with the character of the person telling it. (Or rather, the persona of the character. And by "joke," we mean any humorous line.) Is the person high-energy, or low-key? Are they cynical, or silly? Are they known to be serious, but with a comic payoff?

Your character affects your listener's expectations, patience, and viewpoint as they listen. It also affects the way you time the joke – and thus the laugh.

As we mused at the end of Part Two, can you learn comedy timing without having entertained friends or coworkers all your life? Yes, maybe you can. But timing is not as simple as some people think. Here are some tips.

(Reminder: The term "comedy timing" doesn't refer to how long it takes to tell a joke. In its simplest sense, it refers to knowing just the right moment to deliver the punch line. In the real world of humorous discourse, it's more complex than that. But it's still not about how long it takes to read the script.)

There are two basic components of delivering a joke: timing and pacing.

Timing. Maybe it should be called comedy pausing.

Timing involves knowing where to pause, how long to pause, and why.

In the context of comedy or dramatic direction, you'll often hear the word, "beat." For example, "Between these two words, wait a beat."

Comedy Timing. How does it work in voice-over? Part 2 of 3

NOTE: This is the second post in a 3-part article. Click to read Part 1 and Part 3.

A stage actor or stand-up comedian has something of an advantage over those of us who work alone in a booth. Audience feedback. One of the things you get from an audience, along with a certain energy and maybe (for better or worse) a sense of "danger," is that you know if a joke worked or not. And you can experiment with varying your delivery in order to make a funny line work its best.

Even a movie actor has a crew around them, and a director to help them along. If you're self-directing and don't have years of experience at delivering funny lines, how do you know when you've achieved what writer Larry Gelbart has called, "a nerve well struck"?

One way is to be observant and develop your sense of comedy timing.

What "comedy timing" is not

First we should clarify – in voice-over work, there are three very different types of "timing." Professionals know one from the other, but all involve the same word.

  • In one sense, "timing" refers to how long the read is. Is it 10 seconds or 30? Can the 30-second script be read in 27 seconds? For more on that, see our article, "15, 30, 60,... The Art of Voice-Over Timing." It's not what we're discussing here.
  • In another sense, "timing" in voice-over means the same thing as in everyday life – namely, being in the right place at the right time. If you land a voice-over job for that reason, that's good timing. If the script is funny, you might even quip that it is good comedy timing. But it's not what we're discussing here.

What comedy timing IS

What makes something funny? Especially in voice-over. Part 1 of 3

NOTE: This is the first post in a 3-part article. Click to read Part 2.

There are various schools of thought as to what makes acting work.

There are also schools of thought as to what makes comedy work. What is humor? What makes something funny? And, since in voice-over work, you're usually handed a script, that may or may not be humorous – can you make something funny? Or is the humor already built in, so that all you have to do is read it?

The answer is, a little bit of both. And, unlike acting theory, humor theory is at least partially subject to scientific investigation. Someday, neurologists might even be able to tell us exactly why we laugh.

For now, we'll give it a try ...

By the way, here's our article on various theories of acting.

To fully explain how humor works would take a book – several in fact, including maybe a volume on human neurology and even anthropology ... because laughter is rooted deep in ourselves and our collective past.

Our objective here is simply to give you a crib sheet. But let's have at it for a bit ...

Even among scientists and highly experienced comic actors, there are many theories as to what makes something funny to us. Psychologists have identified no less than 41 types of humorous situations.

The scientists keep getting closer to pinpointing the various factors, using techniques that include real-time brain scans. But, like driving your car, as a voice actor you don't have to know exactly how it works, only that it does ... and that there are different types of engines, etc.

What non-DAW software do you use? And should you?

In a recent episode of Edge Studio's TalkTime! telephone call-in discussion, we focused on "Non-DAW" software (Digital Audio Workstation). In other words, apart from recording software, what programs do some voice-over professionals use, why do they use them, and how do they like them? During that hour of chat, our callers covered a lot of ground. In fact, it was surprising to see how many options they came up with. Here's some of what was covered.

The full hour discussion can be heard in TalkTime! archives at EdgeStudio.com:
Go to edgestudio.com/talktime/archives and scroll to March 18, 2018.

We can't possibly review all these programs, and we DO want to stress that almost none of them are required to be a voice actor or run your voice-over business. In many cases, if you don't already know a program or have a good use for it, it might be a waste of time. Often it's more productive to do what you do best, and hire an accountant, or a web designer, or a graphic artist for special skills.

But, if only to expand your awareness and a place to start, here are various types of non-DAW software you might consider. We've included some notes based in part on the comments, but this list is not at all complete, and neither are our comments.

Website building and management

How a radio producer looks at VO talent for radio commercials.

A point we may not make often enough in our Edge-ucation blog is that Edge Studio, in addition to being a leading coaching entity, was originally and still is very much a production studio. From our large multi-booth production facility in Manhattan and in various other locations around the country (along with remote recording), we record for every VO genre. That experience and insight is one of the many reasons we excel at coaching and education, and why we're able to legitimately hire many of our former students.

Like parents thinking of their children, we would hesitate to pick our favorite genre. But if we had to, Radio would surely be on our short list. That means commercials, celebrity interviews, promos, imaging (branding), all that. Some years ago we wrote an article explaining why Radio offers virtually unlimited creative opportunity. It was aimed at various advertisers who bypass the production studio (and producer) to have their spots done by the local radio station. There's a strong case to be made that producing at Edge Studio will make a commercial better, more advertiser-specific, more persuasive and memorable.

But that article is on the Production section of our website, so readers of our Edge-ucation blog might not encounter it. Talent, too, can learn a lot from its perspective. So here it is:


Some people think you can’t do as much with radio voice-overs as you can with visual media such as TV and Internet commercials. They’re wrong. Whereas a visual medium is limited to what you can show, radio is limited to anything you can imagine. And it's helped along by sound effects (SFX) and music.

We love it. Radio is a veritable playground.

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