You don’t need a wide range of funny voices for prank calls. You can leave that with professional voice actors like Robin Williams, Tara Strong, Kevin Conroy, Seth McFarlan, Phil LaMarr, among many others.
I actually started out with my regular voice and ended up building voices over time. Now, Ownage Pranks is the go-to channel for “one actor and unlimited characters.” So no apps, no voice-changing devices here- just my vocal cords and years of practice.
I get a lot of questions regarding how one can change their voice like I do and how to strengthen accents. I’m sure there is a more technical way to learn this. After all, the voice acting and voice-over industry have standards in place.
However, I can only share what I know. I really wish I had an easy method that would enable you to crank out as many hilarious voices hidden inside your soul and brain. Sadly, I only have one piece of advice. It might be kind of lame, but absolutely necessary: Listen and Practice!
Yep, that’s the key - practice a lot and very often. Test out new voices with your friends, record yourself, and play it back. Get used to hearing the sound of your voice and tweak it along the way.
I’ve been doing this for a few years, and you can see how my characters flesh out as my voices become more steady (check out my older Indian 7-11 pranks). This was all with practice and strengthening. I didn’t perfect my characters’ voices overnight. They all matured over time.
However, if you are still looking for voice acting tips and other practice techniques to become a prank call master, here are a few!
Learn To Listen!
If you want to fool people into thinking you’re somebody else, you need to take on another voice. Listen to other people you hear in your everyday life. Absorb their different accents, inflections, and mannerisms. A person’s voice is as unique as their history and background. By doing this, you can slowly expand your range. Who knows, you might even match a professional’s repertoire.
If you are working on an existing voice, this tip is still helpful. When you pay close attention to how other people speak, you can learn from it and integrate it into your own performance.
For example, if you want your character to be nervous, just think about the people you know in real life. How do they act when they are nervous? Do they stutter? Do they over-explain? What is there breathing like? All these things contribute to the overall performance, so take time to sit down and listen.
Try to be Versatile!
Sure having one, strong voice is great, but if you are looking to beat professional voice actors and give them a run for their money, you need to have a large array of voices. You have to admit that some pranks are funnier with certain characters. If it isn’t that specific voice, things kinda fall flat.
To make your prank calls more interesting, you need to be able to take on the voice of 3-4 characters flawlessly. It can be a game-changer. Though, as mentioned earlier, perfect them one at a time!
Remember to Act!
Voice acting is called voice acting for a reason. It’s more than reading a dry script aloud. You need to create stories for your characters. Add history, emotion, drama! It’s the subtle nuances that develop them and help round out your story.
All professional voice actors put themselves in their character’s shoes and make those feelings their own. You can practice your acting techniques by testing different scenarios with a friend and taking a video of each pass. Write down a list of prompts and act them out. Just like this old but gold quote, practice makes perfect, even in voice acting. You can also have several variations of the same scene. After each set, you can review the video and pick the most convincing version.
While no one sees your face when you are voice acting, your facial expressions affect the sounds you make. The voice-over industry uses this in their favor. When playing a happy, sad, or angry character, let your face move with your voice. Accidental sound, neutral sound, discussion sound, even American sound, or whatever type of sound you make affects your character. Over time, you can play all kinds of people with no problem!
Check out: How To Disguise Your Voice Over the Phone
Seems lame, right? But not all tips get to be glamorous. Who knows that staying hydrated could make you become an expert in voice acting? Excessively talking can give you a dry mouth - how much more trying out new voices hours on end? Whether for practice or a prank call, you need to stay hydrated to keep your voice in good shape. Having a dry mouth will only make it hard to stay in character and keep a consistent voice - this only ruins the whole bit.
There are a couple of vocal exercises to stay in shape. With so many types of warm-ups available, you have to find the most suitable option. Some examples of top-rated vocal exercises are the following:
1. Buzzing Sounds- Be the bee and buzz away. Try to extend it as long as you can or try short bursts.
2. Lip trills- Roll your r’s and try going as high and as low as possible.
3. Yawn and Sigh- Open your mouth wide like you are yawning and make the lowest sound you can make.
4. Tongue Twisters- Bust out an old copy of Dr Seuss and try their tongue twisters. Not only does it improve your voice, but your diction as well.
5. Lay on the floor - Putting your hands on your stomach and concentrating will allow you to feel your diaphragm move. This is a simple method to focus on breathing.
You can build a set to help you successfully take on a new voice. Do this as often as you can. Remember that before any prank call, always warm up.
Create A Make-Shift Home Studio
If you want to train your voice, you need to have the right setting for it. Think about the professional recording studio voice talents get to have. You can make one for yourself - one where the acoustics aren’t so bad so you can explore your full range.
You can check the different rooms in your house and see which one has the least amount of noise. You can pad the windows or hang heavy blankets. It can help you get a clear audio recording so you can properly assess your run-throughs.
Besides being extremely helpful for practice, it is also great for your prank calls. You can also get online soundboards to make the prank call more believable. You can customize the space however you want.
Be Confident & Bold
Another way you can have a convincing voice for your prank calls is by being bold and confident. When you read from a script or improvise your lines, always put power in your words. Think about the last time you lied to your teacher about homework or to your boss about a deadline - you needed them to believe you. To achieve that, you needed to project what you wanted them to see.
The no. 1 way to develop this is to say it clearly and loudly. A lot of times, when we are nervous or self-conscious, our voice reflects our emotional state. We end up muffling our voice or suppressing its shakiness. We try to make ourselves small, maybe even invisible. Such a dead giveaway! Voice acting is the complete opposite of that! (Well, not unless a character requires it, but you get what I mean.)
When it comes to polishing your voice acting techniques, sometimes it’s best to imagine that you already have it figured out. Fake it til’ you make it!
Voice acting has many applications, prank calling just happens to be one of the more fun options out there. If you want to prank call a friend but can’t pull it off since you haven’t mastered voice acting yet, Ownage Pranks can make one for you. Get their prank call app and watch the magic happen as they already have a prank call format!
These are just a few tips to help you get started - got any more you can think of? Leave them in the comments!