A Cartoon Calling
I remember watching American cartoons like Top Cat, Penelope Pitstop, Woody Woodpecker and Scooby Doo when I was a kid growing up in England.
Top Cat’s theme tune always stuck in my head, especially the line after ‘close friends get to call him T.C.’ I finally worked out that the lyric after was ‘pro-vi-ding its with dig-ni-tyyy.’ (I broach the subject in the first episode of my new podcast series with voice director Andrea Romano). Penelope Pitstop had a panoply of catchphrases from a cast of characters. Woody had his stuttery and buttery signature laugh, and Scooby Doo had the villain who would have gotten away with it if it ‘wasn’t for those meddling kids.’
Little did I know, watching the ‘tele’ after school in my humble hometown in north west England, that one day I’d join the cast of Scooby Doo to speak this classic catchphrase at the Warner Brothers recording studios in Hollywood.
My 1st Take
The surreality of that Warners session, some fifteen years ago, still makes me smile. Sitting with Casey Kasem and Frank Welker hearing them bring Shaggy and Scooby come to life, actually being in the same room with them, was a beautiful blast of intoxicating nostalgia.
As I recall, the session flowed with comfortable professionalism, interspersed with moments of fun and laughter. As it got closer to the ‘meddling kids’ line I had a mixture of nervous excitement well up inside me. Thankfully I was able to deliver an acceptable performance of it without stumbling over the words.
Over the ensuing years I’d be invited to speak the iconic cartoon catchphrase twice more and recently had the privilege of delivering it a fourth time, although I had no idea until a few minutes before I performed it.
A few weeks ago I joined the cast of Scooby Doo to record the movie Scooby in King Arthur’s Court. Upon arrival at the studio I greeted the brilliant voice director Collette Sunderman with a hug, was introduced to the producers before I headed into the voice over booth. The engineer adjusted my microphone placement as I settled into my chair and I opened the script on the music stand in front of me.
“We’ll check levels in a moment Greg,” said Collette politely (as always) from the control room. “We’re going to start at line 29.” I scanned the page for line 29 and read it…
“And, I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for you meddling kids and that mangy mutt of yours.”
This would become the fourth time I’d had the honor of delivering this iconic cartoon catchphrase on a Scooby Doo show. This is the kind of delicious career treat that the world of animation voice can regularly serve up at any moment, merely by turning the page of a script.
When you’re offered a role on a iconic cartoon show, your agent doesn’t call and say “Oh, by the way, you get to utter the classic catchphrase from the show.” Sometimes you find out only moments before recording it.