How I Became Dear Abby

Paul StrikwerdaSomething scary and awful has happened to me.

Because of the strange popularity of this blog and my appearance as an “expert” on several VO-shows and webinars, people are starting to take me seriously.

What am I to do?

All of a sudden, friends and foes feel the urge to retweet my nonsensical wisecracks, and care to comment on bizarre thoughts I share with you on Facebook. Some people even shower me with compliments and unhealthy adoration.

STOP THAT!

I already suffer from extreme self-esteem, and you’re not making it any easier for me to stick to my twelve-step program aimed at practicing modesty and humility.

My AA (Arrogance Anonymous) self-help group was just praising me for the progress I had made in that area. It was horrible. All of a sudden I felt exceedingly full of myself again, and their flattery threw me back several months.

Because of my growing reputation, folks from all corners of the earth believe I have the answer to all their voice-over questions. Who do you think I am?

Joan Baker? J.S. Gilbert? Bill DeWees?

I thought I’d share a few of their issues with you, and when you read my responses, you will soon realize that it’s pointless to contact me.

Here we go.

Q. Dear Paul, I’d like you to critique my demo. How much do you charge for that?

A. Mr. Friedman, it depends on the audio. If your demo is very bad, you can’t pay me enough to listen to it. If it’s any good, you don’t need my critique because it speaks for itself.

Q. Dear Paul, I want to get rid of my announcer voice. What do I do?

A. Dear Doug Turkel, I can see why this could be a problem for you. I suggest talk therapy, and be sure to keep it conversational. Once you’re rid of your radio voice, relaunch your business. When you do, you better make a big announcement!

Q. Dear Paul, can you tell me what James Cameron found when his submarine hit the floor of the Mariana Trench?

A. Contrary to popular belief, this was not a marine expedition. Mr. Cameron was actually looking for cheap voice talent for his upcoming productions. He wondered how low they would go, and I think he found some bottom feeders.

Q. Dear Paul, am I allowed to drink during the session if the client is paying for a “dry read only”?

A. Very funny. Yes, you may drink, but only from a Blue Bottle!

I have a good one for you: Are you allowed to shout in a Whisper Room®?

Q. Dear Paul, Marc Cashman charged me an arm and a leg to help me find my money voice. Is that okay?

A. Give the man some credit. He’s a genius, and he deserves every penny!

Q. Dear Paul, I have some emotional scars from a Nancy Wolfson tough love seminar. What do I need to heal from that experience?

A. A big hug from Bob Souer or Uncle Roy.

Q. Dear Paul, although I just started my voice-over business, I want to come across as a seasoned professional. What are some of the must-haves if I want to pull this off?

A. That’s easy. People are doing it every day. You have to have:

• a profile picture of you, hugging a microphone;

• demos that have been so doctored, sweetened, and spiced up that your voice needs decompression after the session;

• a YouTube video tour of your walk-in closet voice-over studio showing a surprisingly rich variety of naughty undergarments;

• knowing the answer to the question: “What would Don have done?” (No, not Don Draper);

• a Neumann TLM 103 because you can’t afford a U87;

• a website with a picture of you hugging a microphone;

• a friend request from Dave Courvoisier;

• a Facebook album with pictures of you holding various celebrities in an iron grip as they are forced to pose with you;

• a subscription to my blog;

• a real job.

Q. Dear Paul, please listen to my most recent audition. Should I put more egg crates on the wall to tame the reflections?

A. The audition was horrible. Your bathroom sounds just fine, but I think you are the one who needs more treatment.

Q. Dear Paul, you’re such a wordsmith. Can you come up with a snappy slogan for my VO-business?

A. What do you think of these?

“I can’t read your mind but I will read your script.”
“I’m always on speaking terms with my clients.”
“Speak for yourself, or I will do it for you!”

Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice

PS My sincere apologies to all the colleagues mentioned in this article. You never wrote to me, and after this article I fear you never will.

About the author

Paul Strikwerda

is a Dutch-English voice-over pro, coach, and writer. His blog is one of the most widely read and influential blogs in the industry. Paul is also the author of "Making Money In Your PJs, Freelancing for voice-overs and other solopreneurs." goo.gl/ihVpMc

by Paul Strikwerda in Articles, Career

45 Responses to How I Became Dear Abby

  1. Earl Thomas

    Hi Paul,

    Another great blog no wonder you are so popular.
    I am searching this AM for a basic definition of pitch & tone as I prepare a speech on the basics of voice-over and the vital elements. I found volume and pacing easily but pitch & tone appear more challenging to find. Any ideas? Thanks Paul

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank you Earl. A while ago I have written a series of blog posts about effective delivery. You’ll find the answer to your question in this post:

    http://www.nethervoice.com/2014/08/20/the-funniest-joke-of-the-year/

    Just substitute “timbre” for “tone.”

    [Reply]

    Joe Nagle Reply:

    I think I can help you, Earl. Tone is the long sound the machine in a hospital makes before they move you to the cold room downstairs; pitch is the green stuff under the players’ feet at a futbol match.

    You’re welcome.

    [Reply]

    Joe Nagle Reply:

    I think I can help you, Earl. “Tone” is the long sound the machine in a hospital makes before they move the patient to the cold room downstairs; “Pitch” is the green stuff under the players’ feet at a futbol match.

    You’re welcome.

    [Reply]

  2. Laila Berzins

    This was a blast to read. Thanks for the great article, Paul! Now go take a picture of yourself hugging a microphone:)

    [Reply]

  3. Matilda Novak

    Thank you, Paul!
    That was so Fun.
    i always love and appreciate your blog, whether it’s making me think, consider, smile or laugh out loud — Your words always merit reading!

    [Reply]

  4. Kent Ingram

    LOL!! If there’s ever a discussion about how mount a roll of toilet paper, I’ll KNOW you will have reached “Dear Abby” status, Paul. This is one, huge, enjoyable article, thanks!

    [Reply]

  5. Rick Lance

    Ha… hee, hee…!

    [Reply]

  6. Debby Barnes

    Sensational! I’m cramping over! 😉

    [Reply]

    Ted Mcaleer Reply:

    Paul’s wisdom stands the test of time as well. I started my career by reading Nethervoice- Thursday is my Sunday…Get the book. It’s invaluable!

    [Reply]

  7. Ruth Weisberg

    Dear (G)Abby,
    Love the timely and priceless retorts. What’s with the curiously outdated though timeless time stamps??

    Speechless in Narberth,
    Ruth Weisberg Philly

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Because of Yom Kippur, I decided to revive and older blog post. That’s why you see the somewhat dated comments, Ruth.

    [Reply]

  8. Dan Friedman

    I love this! I’m honored to be mentioned. When you get a chance… would you mind listening to my demo anyway. 😉

    Happy New Year Paul!!

    Dan

    [Reply]

  9. Doug Turkel

    Paul,

    I’m not sure how I missed this post, but thankfully, a very kind, bug-eyed multilingual voiceover talent just alerted me to it.

    I’ve taken your advice and have hired a therapist…I’ll be relaunching my business as soon as that therapy has had its desired effect. (She says it shouldn’t take more than a few years.) And you can bet that I’ll be making that announcement right here.

    Cheers!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    It just means that you don’t constantly Google your own name and that you haven’t signed up for reputation.com yet.

    Let me know when you’re ready to un-annouce the relaunch of your business. 🙂

    [Reply]

  10. Helen Lloyd

    Brilliant ! Can’t think of anything witty to say, but thank you for making me laugh! I am going to hug my mic now … oh hold on … it isn’t a Neumann!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    In my next life I’d like to come back as a comedian. For now I’m just practicing. Making people laugh is one of the best things there is and your comment put a big smile on my face, Helen!

    [Reply]

  11. Mark Maurer

    LMFAO!!! You covered just about all the eccentric realities of our world. The Cameron dig was timely. There’s better, there’s best…
    then there is Strikwerda. :-))

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    That just about did it, Mark. I desperately need to talk to my Arrogant Anonymous sponsor. This is the worst compliment you could have given me, and I’m loving it!

    Months of therapy are down the drain but I guess I deserve it.

    Keep on laughing. It’s healthy!

    [Reply]

  12. Paul Garner

    Paul, I’ve been taking a course on learning how not to overfeed those with “extreme self-esteem” and thought I could get some practice here! Loved the article! Oh, darn, that slipped out! Don’t want to be responisible for you not being able to get in or out of your studio, but I did chuckle quite a bit, especially over the list of what one needs to be seen as a professional in this crazy business! Really enjoyed that one! Well, guess that course isn’t taking; wonder if I can get money back?
    Thanks again Paul!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    You definitely need to ask for your money back, Paul. This is totally unacceptable. Thanks a bunch!

    [Reply]

  13. Matt Wiewel

    Fantastically awesome!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I guess it’s back to step one of my AA program. Thanks a lot, Matt! 🙂

    [Reply]

  14. Linda Joy

    Hillarious!!!
    Working in a little padded room all by yourself all day long has finally gotten to you :))
    Please keep up the insanity!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Call me crazy, but I will do my best!

    [Reply]

  15. Marc Scott

    Hilarious. Definitely sharing this one. Subscribing too!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Glad you enjoyed it, Marc. Thanks for subscribing!

    [Reply]

  16. Andrew Swingler

    Dear Paul,
    I understand that I can succeed in voiceover (or “VO” as we call it in the industry) by working once or twice a week and hitting the beach the rest of the time. I believe that this will make me very rich. My question – what do you do with YOUR millions?

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Dear Andrew, is there actually money to be made in this business? I’ve always thought of VO as a nice hobby… something to do on the side to prevent life from becoming boring.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Swingler Reply:

    Dear Paul. So I don’t get to become a multi-millionaire overnight? That’s disappointing news. Now, you must excuse me – I have some auditions to do on the Bunny.

    [Reply]

  17. jennifer dixon

    Mmmm Paul ESE(extreme self-esteem) sounds like a serious case of the Whisper room twist – something like diver’s bends but causes expansion of the hat size and may even lead to running for President!! Yikes! Do be careful!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I know I’m playing with fire here, Jennifer. It takes enormous talent and self-control not to think too highly of myself. Other people wouldn’t be able to do it, but I must say that I’ve become quite good at being the most modest man in voice-overs. In fact, I don’t know anyone in this business more humble than yours truly.

    [Reply]

    jennifer dixon Reply:

    So well balanced Paul !It’s a delight to learn from you!!

    [Reply]

  18. Rick Lance

    OHHHH, Paul! You had me laughing my ass off! Is that LMAO?
    You are too funny! We really know the true you now… and what makes you tick. “I’m always on speaking terms with my clients” Hey, that’s good! Someone may steal that one!

    I doubt anyone mentioned by name was offended… in fact, I’m sure they were delighted.

    Btw, love your new headshot!

    I gotta retweet this!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    No chance of getting my high self-esteem down to normal levels with commentators like you, Rick.

    I have not heard back from those mentioned in this post. Is that a good sign or a bad sign?

    [Reply]

  19. Scott Gentle

    “Contrary to popular belief, this was not a marine expedition. Mr. Cameron was actually looking for fresh and cheap voice-over talent for his upcoming productions. He wondered how low they would go and I believe he actually found some bottom feeders.”

    Priceless!

    (no pun originally intended…but the more I think about it…)

    – SG

    P.S: Aren’t CAD mikes great? I do that to my M9 every time a check arrives….

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Hi Scott, I believe Cameron described the ocean floor as a lonely, desolate place. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s like that in the voice-over underworld.

    I actually have the CAD E100S on loan for review. You can read my impressions in a few weeks on recordinghacks.com.

    [Reply]

  20. Rowell Gormon

    Paul – you hereby have my express permission to ship any and all of your excess self-esteem to me. I’ll even pay the frieght charges!

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    All my voice-over services come with free shipping, Rowell. It’s just a matter of getting them through customs. They say humor doesn’t translate well.

    [Reply]

  21. Andy Boyns

    Paul Strikwerda has not left the building…
    The reason is unclear – could either be a problem with the head:door width ratio, or the fact the huggable microphone has far too short a lead and a rather cumbersome stand. Apparently the walls are sufficiently padded so, so far no real problems there.

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Thank goodness for that.

    [Reply]

  22. Jodi Krangle

    HAHAHAHAHAH! AWesome, Paul. 😀 Thanks for brightening my morning. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    I warned you, Jodi, Don’t go there. As you can see, I already have a very big head.

    [Reply]

    Jodi Krangle Reply:

    Actually, it looked like your *eyes* that got really big. 😉

    [Reply]

    Paul Strikwerda Reply:

    Apple’s PhotoBooth effects never fail to amaze me!

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