Out of the Box in Chicago – APAC 2016

Out of the Box

Let actors who spend their lives recording audiobooks in solitary confinement out of their studios and they’ll show you how to party.

I’m with my fellow audiobook narrators at the APAC conference at a party hosted by Bee Audio at The Billy Goat Tavern in Chicago.

In one half of the room are maybe sixty audiobook narrators, some of whom are famous, talking in voices that resonate and in some cases boom across the room. They’re dressed like the actors i.e. no one is wearing a tie.

In the other half of the room are about thirty men in suits who are apparently there for some sort of sports convention. There’s a band playing some sort of cheerful blues I think and despite the fact that the room was obviously double booked, everyone’s happy.

I am drinking a glass of cranberry juice at the bar, sitting next to Carrington MacDuffie, fellow narrator and singer/songwriter extraordinaire.

A big man in a suit who looks like Baloo bounces enthusiastically towards us.

“What character do you do?” he says.

“I’m sorry?” we say.

“You’re voice actors, right? So, what CHARACTER do you do?”

There is no point in trying to explain that we’re audiobook narrators so we don’t we ‘do’ a character because he’s slightly drunk, the band is loud and neither of us feels like shouting.

I contemplate pretending to be French but before I can say “Pardonez moi Monsieur, mais je ne parles pa Anglais,” he bends his head down, and, not to be deterred, says again, “What character do you do?”

“Well,” I say, shouting into his ear, “My friend Carrington here doesn’t like to talk about it because she’s very modest, but she’s the voice of the new Muppet.”
The music is so loud he can’t hear Carrington’s “What???”
”For real?” he says.
“For real,” in my clipped English accent.
“Wowsa!” he says, turning to Carrington. “Which Muppet?”
“Yes, Alison,” Carrington says, “Which Muppet?”
With a little stir of my cranberry juice I say, “Why, Barbara the black sheep of course.”
“For real?” the man says, hardly able to contain himself. Then he turns to Carrington and says “Do the voice.”
`“I can’t,” Carrington says without missing a beat. “Because really it’s Alison who plays Barbara the black sheep on The Muppets, she’s just too modest to admit it.”
Damn .
“Do the voice,” he says turning to me.
There’s no way out of this.
“Haaaaaaalllllllo” I bleat. “I’m Baaaaarbara. The blaaaaaaak sheeeeeeeep.”
Then I turn and head towards the throng of audiobook narrators in whose midst I am enfolded within a matter of seconds.

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