Cool Charts Listing the People Who Voice the Characters on The Simpsons and South Park

One of the areas we cover in the class at City College is character voices. We’ll spend about 3 weeks experimenting to see if you have what it takes to create and maintain a character “voice.” Here’s some inspiration!

The two charts on this page highlight the different characters that each actor portrays in The Simpsons and South Park. Look at the number of voices the key actors are doing. Watch an episode and study what the actors need to do to change the entire personality, pitch, tone and cadence. Most voice actors who end up making a living (or at least earning money) doing cartoon voices are very versatile. They can slip in and out of convincing accents and dialects without missing a beat. They can age their voices. They can evolve a character into a new character with a few little tweaks. A few of the actors only do a few voices. In some cases this may be due to the fact that their voice has some unique quality that makes it hard for them to have as much versatility.

Simpson's cast
Wow! That’s a lot of voices…

Dan Castellaneta, Hank Azaria and Harry Shearer carry the load in the Simpsons. They voice about 60% of all the voices in the show. Tress MacNeille and Pamela Hayden handle about a dozen characters each. The South Park cast is much smaller, so each of the key actors do even more voices. (See the link above for the South Park chart)

A big part of your job as an aspiring (or even as a working) voice actor is to study what other actors are doing. Listen, listen, listen. If you even have one tiny glimmer in your brain that you want to do cartoon voices, then you need to truly know if you have the ability to truly develop a convincing character (or 20!) and then hold onto it for the long haul.

Gibberish? Maybe. Great accents? Absolutely!

Think back to the Trial by TV exercise where I said to try to spew out whatever you were hearing as you changed the channels randomly. I specifically mentioned foreign languages and how you don’t need to know what they are saying, what you want to do is find the cadence, the placement, the unique lilt and pattern of the language.

This girl does this remarkably well…she’s 19 and from Finland.

Placement, Tempo, Rhythm and Body Work!

One of the newer voiceover guys on the VO-BB is quite a talented impressionist. Craig Crumpton is his name. He is also  the publisher of Voice Actors in the News. And while impressions is not the key to the gravy train – it can be a wonderful tool to help you find characters that you CAN use to broaden your capabilities.

He did a single pass at the poem “Casey at Bat” with a bunch of different “famous” voices – men and women. Check it out:

And watch what happens to his face and body as he changes from voice to voice. Also listen to how his voice moves around inside his mouth – from his throat to his nose to the front to the back and everywhere in between.

Accents and Dialects

Want to listen to authentic accents and dialects as you polish your own? Try these links. Many thanks to my friend Joe T. Thomas for compiling these resources…

Speech Accent Archive
Speech Accent Archive
Audio samples from around the world using a standardized paragraph

IDEA – International Dialects of English
IDEA – The International Dialects Of English Archive
Audio samples from around the world

UCLA Phonetics Lab
UCLA Phonetics Lab Archive
Archive of audio samples from around the world

UCLA Phonetics Lab – Audio Samples…andConsonants/
Additional recordings from UCLA

Sounds Familiar
Sounds Familiar?
Audio samples from Scotland, Wales, Ireland, England

Colin and Cumberland
BBC Wales – Colin and Cumberland
Learn Welsh and hear native speakers

BBC Voices
BBC – Voices
Samples from speakers in the UK, Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man

Phonological Atlas of North America
Phonological Atlas of North America
Audio Samples from North America

inogolo : Name Pronunciation Guide — Pronounce the Names of People, Places, and Stuff in English
Pronunciation guide for names and places

VOA Pronunciation guide
VOA Pronunciation Guide
Voice of America pronunciation guide for international names

Yiddish Dictionary
Yiddish Dictionary
So Nu? Gib a kick!

AT&T Labs Text to Speech
AT&T Labs Text-to-Speech: Demo
Pronounces typed text in a variety of accents

International Phonetic Association
IPA: Homepage
Phonetic guide to accents… great for the technically inclined