By: Judy Shields
Downey, California (The Hollywood Times) 4/4/2018 “Terrific animation, great characters, great stories and actually the music wasn’t too bad, written by 50% of the people who you see on this stage,” said Rob about him and Randy on stage.
On Friday, March 30th Animaniacs Live in Concert!” starring Rob Paulsen, and Randy Rogel was performed at the Downey Theatre in Downey, California.
Legendary voice actor Rob Paulsen, who has delighted generations of animation fanatics with his signature roles in “Animaniacs”, “Pinky and the Brain,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” and dozens of other beloved film and television projects, brought the beloved “Animaniacs” to the stage at the Downey Theatre. He was joined by “Animaniacs” composer Randy Rogel to present “Animaniacs In Concert!” with several shows scheduled throughout 2018.
For Paulsen, the return to work is a triumph. Diagnosed with throat cancer almost two years ago, Paulsen only told a few friends and professional colleagues, facing the possibility that his three-decades long career might be over forever. But for a man of a hundred voices who suffered literally and figuratively in silence, he’s on the mend, cancer free, and ready to get back to work.
After performing at Joe’s Pub at the Public Theatre in New York, “Animaniacs in Concert!” which features live music and voice work from Paulsen while beloved “Animaniacs” cartoons are screened, the show hopscotched around the states for their 2017-2018 tour with shows in St. Charles, Illinois (October 21); Arlington, Texas (October 27); Tucson, Arizona (November 4).
Upcoming shows will be held at Joe’s Pub, New York (May 24-27).
Meanwhile, in addition to “Animaniacs in Concert!,” Paulsen continues to host his podcast “Talkin’ Toons,” featuring Paulsen talking with the animation industry’s most illustrious and impressive artists. It’s recently moved to video format, hosted on nerdist.com .
Grateful for his new lease on life, Paulsen continues to make countless charity appearances and is beginning work on a memoir about his challenges recovering from a career-threatening diagnosis. With a voice that spans generations of cartoon fans, Rob Paulsen is still ready to bring joy and laughter into people’s lives, his passion for his work now even stronger than ever.
The Hollywood Times was in the audience Friday night and believe me Rob Paulsen along with Randy Rogel did in fact bring joy, laughter and wonderful memories for those in the sold out venue.
I consider myself very fortunate to attend red carpets, movie screenings, film festivals and concerts, but I have to say, this concert was the best event I have covered. The entire presentation, from talks about how the songs were written by Randy Rogel himself to Rob Paulsen singing them in Yakko’s voice. The many highlights for me and the entire audience. I don’t believe there was one audience member who felt any different.
We cheered, we clapped and we sung along. Both Rob and Randy told amazing stories about the beginning of the Animaniacs produced by Steven Spielberg and the top executives at Warner Brothers. It was amazing to hear the inspirations for the songs Randy wrote for the Animaniacs show.
The most memorable part of the show to me was when Rob performed Yakko’s World Nations of the World song without missing a beat and Randy mentioned how Rob did it in one take the first time for the TV show. Phenomenal!!
Check it out with the song with the words added. I can’t even do it being able to see the words! Rob Paulsen is amazing. What a talented actor!
Randy said, “We obviously owe this to Mr. Spielberg and our producer Tom Ruegger, we were able to do songs on just about anything, about politics, geography, maps, science, astronomy, cosmology.” Rob said, “Not to be confused with cosmetology. We did songs about everything, from the tiniest grain of sand to the entire universe.”
Randy sat at his piano and began to play, while Rob took center stage and the episode of Yakko’s Universe played on a big screen above the stage. “Everybody lives on a street in a city, etc. sang Rob. He did not miss a beat and what a treat. A true genius…
What a way to start the concert, how could it get any better, right. Well it did. Randy would tell the audience about how he wrote the songs and what his inspiration was.
Like Randy performing the missing verse to the ending of the Yakko Universe song that the top executives made Randy edit out. The audience was thrilled when it ended with “it’s a small world after all.” Laughter and clapping erupted.
The audience was treated to many of the songs that Randy wrote and we all got to hear them for the first time because several of the songs didn’t make it on the show and that was a great treat.
Randy said that is takes up to nine months from the storyboard artists and then sent overseas to get animated and comes back to the studio. “Like having a baby” Randy said and Rob said, “No, no, no, I saw a very sweet uber pregnant young woman coming here today and you tell her it’s like having a baby!”
“When the animated film came back to the studio, there would be an entire orchestra to add the music to the animated film.” Randy said. Randy played a few notes of “I’m Cute” on the piano, then he said this is how it sounded with the orchestra music added to the episode and it was awesome to hear it that way with the orchestra music and see the episode playing in the big screen.
Another highlight was when Randy told the story about the Warner executives telling him that the Animaniacs was picked up for another season and they would need another Christmas episode, ‘so write a Christmas Carol and make it funny’ they told him. “How do I make a funny Christmas Carol?” What if we open up on the Warner Brothers lot in Burbank with it all covered in snow with Yakko, Wakko and Dot in the water tower all decorated for Christmas and a Christmas tree all decorated by children.” Randy said. Rob interjects in Yakko’s voice, hey Wakko, what are you doing? Isn’t that weird seeing that coming out of my head?”
Yakko sees that Wakko has spelled Santa like Santla, like dear sant la. Yakko says “that’s not how you spell Santa”, Wakko says how do you spell his name then, Yakko pulls out a big butcher block piece of paper and starts to write on it.” Said by both Rob and Randy.
Randy then starts to play the piano while Rob starts singing in Yakko’s voice.
“To spell Santa’s name, is easy to do, you write S A N T and another A too. But no “L” no “L.”
Randy is playing Noel while Rob sings the Santa spelling song. WOW, it was amazing.
The song continues and I will not tell you the rest of the song, you must go and see these two perform it in person the next time they are in town.
Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing duo perform Animaniacs Live! The Concert.
There was a Q&A with the audience after the concert.
Audience Member: “Other than Yakko, who is the one go-to character you would choose?”
Rob: “My favorite character would be the next one, because that means I’m working. If I couldn’t do Yakko, I would probably be Pinky because I just love working with Maurice. The actual things about all of this, this whole working experience has been all I have to do is hang around a bunch of people and when they find out who I am, I say ‘Narf’, it’s the most beautiful experience in the world and honestly, it never in a million years gets old. I go through life thinking how much better can it be. People come here on Good Friday, Passover to spend a couple of hours laughing and that’s sensational.”
Audience Member: “Yakko, Wakko and Dot, are those their original written names?
Rob: “Their real names are Manny, Moe and Jack!” Laughter!
Randy: “Their names are based on Groucho, Harpo and Chico, the Marx Brothers.”
Rob: “Certainly, those were the names when I auditioned for it.”
Audience Member: “Who wrote the “monkey song” I love that song?”
Rob: “Tom Ruegger wrote the lyrics, but that song also was sung by Harry Belafonte in 1961. That is the one that got Dr. Scratchansniff the recognition.”
Rob starts to sing the Monkey Song “One Monday morning I got up and there were these monkeys outside the gate, I didn’t know what to say, the monkey won’t do”(in Dr. Scratchansniff’s voice). The audience starts clapping and then cheering when he stops.
The Monkey song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKY5zHILK00
Audience Member: “Do you have to do much improv for the shows?
Rob: We do improv a lot, whether or not it ends up in the show, I don’t know. I have done a lot because I have an improvisional background.”
Randy: “It look a whole day in the recording booth and doing another take when they start arguing again and they started swearing at each other in their cartoon voices and it was one of the funniest things you will ever see. Here you have cartoon characters screaming at each other.”
Rob. “The scripts are so solid and the improvising was something that we do because it didn’t change too much. Sometimes we would say that was better than what we worked on.”
The Hollywood Times: “Rob, how young were you when you discovered your voice over talents?”
Rob: “I did come to LA 40 years ago and essentially I came to do live action and I was doing that. I first did GI Joe and Transformers. I can’t believe I actually make a living out of what I got in trouble for as a kid.”
The Hollywood Times: “Randy, how young were you when you started writing songs and playing the piano?”
Randy: “I started when I was eight and I never practiced. I started playing with the Warner Brothers orchestra and doing well. I have a musical background before I became a voice over actor.”
The Audience Member: “My niece wants to get into voice acting, what type of advice do you give her?”
Rob: “Acting is acting. We all are actors. Its’ a cool thing doing voiceover acting. There are many opportunities for voice acting with video games and animation movies. Do theatre, acting, dance and I recommend improv work. Anything to get you the opportunity to sing, dance or act in front of folks. The reason you all like these characters are because they are all well drawn, well written and well performed.”
I had the opportunity to say hello to Rob at a nearby restaurant and just happened to have an old floppy disk with Pinky and The Brain on it and Rob asked where did I get that? If you showed that to any kids today, they would not even know what it is? He sure loved it, he even wrote Narf on it and signed it Love Pinky. His autograph as well. I will always treasure this and it will go into a shadow box for my wall. Picture below:
About Robert Paulsen
An American voice actor, singer and voice director who has done many voice roles in various films, television shows, and video games. He is known for voicing “Corkey” from the 1980s Hanna-Barbera show The Snorks, Raphael and Donatello from the 1987 cartoon and 2012 cartoon respectively of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Yakko Warner, Dr. Otto Scratchansniff, and Pinky from Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain, Carl Wheezer and Skeet from Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Jack Fenton from Danny Phantom, Reuben in Lilo and Stitch, and the title character in The Mask. In total, Paulsen has been the voice of over 250 different animated characters and performed in over 1000 commercials. He continues to play parts in dozens of cartoons as well as characters in animated feature movies.
He began his voice-over career in 1983 with the mini-series G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, where he played “Snow Job” and “Tripwire”. A few years later, his career launched into more roles such as “Cobra Slavemaster” and reprising “Snow Job” and “Tripwire” on G.I. Joe, “Corky” on The Snorks, “Marco Smurf” on the later seasons of The Smurfs, “Boober” on the animated version of Fraggle Rock, “Hadji” in The New Adventures of Jonny Quest and the title character – “Saber Rider” and the villain “Jesse Blue” on Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs.
During the 1980s, Paulsen also explored the field of live action films. His first movie was Eyes of Fire in 1983. He played supporting roles in Body Double, Stewardess School, Warlock, and Mutant on the Bounty. He appeared in television shows during this time as well, such as MacGyver and St. Elsewhere. He mentioned in an interview, regarding his role in Body Double, that he would not want his child (who was very young at the time of the interview) to see the movie, so he could not really be proud of his work.
From 1987 to 1995, Paulsen voiced Raphael and various supporting characters in the original 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. Originally starting as a five-part miniseries, the series continued for ten seasons and 193 episodes. It was a great success and became an instant pop culture symbol. Paulsen has said that Raphael’s voice is very similar to his natural voice.
He returned to the franchise as Donatello for the new 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series on Nickelodeon. Paulsen will serve as the voice director for the 2018 series, Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Throughout the early 1990s, Paulsen continued to co-star in animated series, which allowed him to branch further into radio and television announcements and dropped live action acting from his repertoire. In 1993, he voiced “Antoine D’Coolette” in ABC’s series Sonic the Hedgehog, and “Arthur”, an insecure accountant in a moth costume (wings included), in the superhero series The Tick in 1995, replacing Micky Dolenz, who had originally played Arthur.
In 1993, he starred as the title character in both Mighty Max and The Mask. Also at this time, he starred in what became one of his most popular roles, “Yakko Warner” of Animaniacs.
Paulsen also provided the voice of “Pinky” from both Animaniacs and its spin-off Pinky and the Brain, a show which won him several Annie Awards and a Daytime Emmy in 1999.
He also did a number of characters in Tiny Toon Adventures, including “Fowlmouth”, “Arnold the Pit Bull”, and “Concord Condor”. In the direct-to-video movie Tiny Toon Adventures: How I Spent My Vacation, he did the voices for “Banjo Possum”, “Mr. Hitcher” (who would also appear in other episodes), and “Johnny Pew”. (Wikipedia)
About Randy Rogel
Randy Rogel is a writer, performer, singer, songwriter, and pianist (Goodnight, everybody!). Randy was a writer for Batman: The Animated Series. When he heard that production was beginning on Animaniacs, he immediately wanted to come on board, but since he was working on Batman, which was a serious work, he was not hired. But then his son was studying geography and when he realized that the nations of United States and Canada and Mexico and Panama all rhymed, he began writing a song and sent it to the show. Thus Yakko’s World was born. After that, he became one of Animaniacs resident songwriters and later wrote some cartoons without musical numbers.
Randy later wrote some songs and cartoons for Histeria! and performed the Donald O’Connor role in a regional production of Singin’ in the Rain. Most recently, for Rob Paulsen’s podcast “Talkin’ Toons”, he got to perform some of the songs he wrote for Animaniacs live with Rob.
Songs and cartoons written:
Yakko’s World (lyrics)
Yakko’s Universe (music & lyrics)
What Are We? (music & lyrics)
Wakko’s America (lyrics, teleplay co-written with Tom Ruegger)
Be Careful What You Eat
O Silly Mio (co-written with Paul Rugg)
Of Nice and Men (co-written with Sherri Stoner)
What a Dump!
The Senses Song
Video Review (co-written with Sherri Stoner and Tom Minton)
A Christmas Plotz (co-written by Paul Rugg)
Twas the Day Before Christmas (co-written with Tom Ruegger)
Schnitzelbank (co-written with Paul Rugg)
A Quake, a Quake!
All the Words in the English Language (co-written with Paul Rugg)
The Presidents Song
Mighty Wakko at the Bat
A Very Very Very Very Special Show
When You’re Traveling
Bones in the Body
The Brain’s Apprentice
Hooray for North Hollywood (co-written with Tom Ruegger)
The Carpool (co-written with Nick DuBois)
The Christmas Tree (co-written with Nick DuBois, Kevin Hopps and Tom Ruegger)
The Scoring Session (co-written with Nick DuBois, Kevin Hopps and Tom Ruegger)
The Geologic Clock (cut)