John DiMaggio -The Man,The Myth,The Bending Unit 22
I know John DiMaggio best as the voice behind Bender, the drunk, spiteful and often incoherent robot on Futurama. To others, Jake the Dog from Adventure Time comes to mind. With work ranging from television series’ to video games alike; DiMaggio’s talent stems from one place, his voice.
There was a certain type of comedy on stage as John Dimaggio sat on a leather couch surrounded by faux plants and almost too bright lighting. When asked about what drew him ‘behind the scenes’ to be a voice actor he mentioned that “it was nice to not be pigeon-holed into being the Twinkies guy, to not be that guy on screen.” In other words, he would rather be recognized for the variety of characters he could play off screen instead of always being seen as that one guy who did that Twinkies ad.
After sitting in on both John Dimaggio and Billy West’s panels at Rose City Comic Con, I have a new-found respect for what they, and others like them, do.
“Playing Joker is like playing Macbeth, eventually, everyone gets a shot” – John DiMaggio
DiMaggio spoke a lot about how he’d developed his characters stating that you have to “build the character from the ground up,” but that you also have to “be an actor first.” Though I’m not looking to get into voice acting myself, John spoke true to many aspiring voice actors in the audience reminding them that “any voice you do starts with you.” Highlighting some of his impersonations while answering questions from the crowd, DiMaggio threw out his best Bender response when a fan asked, “What would Bender rally for if he ran for election?”, his retort, “BOOZE!!! Booze, Booze, Booze!”
It was almost bittersweet hearing the voice of Bender echo throughout the conference room, almost as if Futurama was still here. Like Bender hadn’t issued the final line on the final episode. But was this really the end? Much like Billy West had done the day prior, John DiMaggio spilled his thoughts on what is and will be for Futurama, “I don’t want the show to have a last line,” he said receiving the same reassurance the West had from Matt Groening in that he shouldn’t worry about it.
Check out Jasen’s article here regarding more on what’s in store for Futurama!
The room was overcome with excitement when Aquaman made an appearance. DiMaggio had mentioned that he had been somewhat let down when Diedrich Bader got the voice of Batman in the TV series instead of himself, but that he and Bader were good friends and he was happy in the end when he had landed Aquaman. Probably the oddest question from the audience was whether or not the beard played a part in DiMaggio’s creation of his Aquaman voice in which he simply replied “the beard had no factor in the voice.”
In reference to Adventure Time, DiMaggio heard the repeated question of what type of dog Jake is. He had no answer, asking merely that the people keep asking the question so that eventually Pendleton Ward, the creator of Adventure Time, would provide the information. Of mention, Johns favorite episodes from Adventure Time are Jake the Dad and Bacon Pancakes. And yes, he did sing the bacon pancakes song with the audience!
Unbeknownst to those who chose to attend the panel we were provided with a first hand look at the upcoming documentary I Know That Voice directed by Lawrence Shapiro. A peek behind the curtain, a kind of back alley black market of information coming straight from the source through the mouths and voices of some of the most talented voice actors in the business. I would highly recommend giving this a watch when it is released later this fall!
“How much of the pie do you really need? As long as I have a job and I’m working, I don’t care what anyone else is doing.” – DiMaggio’s personal views on success
Probably the best piece of advice from John DiMaggio at his Rose City Comic Con panel was to “Be prepared and to make more calculated mistakes.” So whether you decide to pursue a career in voice acting or in anything you do, make sure it is well thought out before you make your next move.