The John Cleese Recipe for Creativity

Jim Kennelly of Realtime Casting shares a recipe for creativity and auditioning in your Real Voice.

Yes, the modern voice-over business includes phone prompts, e-lessons and the occasional batch of 1-800 tags, but we also audition for cutting edge TV spots, beautifully written documentary narrations, clever promos and creative radio copy. It’s important to me, when I produce and direct, to remember that this copy, this project, belongs to someone else. They need and deserve my creative best on every recording.

Some advice on delivering your creative best

When looking over copy to audition and direct, I remember the words of John Cleese of Monty Python fame, “Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating.” At Realtime Casting, we agree 100%! In the voice-over world, there is always discussion on how creativity works, “what is the secret?”, “do you have any tips?”, and “what can I do to have really creative auditions?”


ADP WorkforceNOW Singers being creative

So, let’s consider something completely to make every voice audition the best it can be. John Cleese describes these “factors that you can arrange to make your lives more creative”:

Space – “You can’t become playful, and therefore creative, if you’re under your usual pressures.” Then you need to add…

Time – “It’s not enough to create space; you have to create your space for a specific period of time. Time also gives your mind as long as possible to come up with something original and learning to tolerate the discomfort of pondering time and indecision.” And importantly for all voice actors…

Confidence – “Nothing will stop you from being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”

Let’s consider how we add Cleese’s model for creativity into your next voice audition and using your “Real Voice”.

Voice actors should adapt a wide-angle, abstract view of their scripts and allow the mind to ponder possible solutions, and follow that experience with an audition read that zooms in on a specific solution with narrow precision.

Once we come up with a solution, we must switch into action and implement it. After making a decision, we are efficient only if we go through with it decisively, without doubt or fear about its correctness. That is when you will find yourself auditioning in your “Real Voice”.

But here is the problem…Voice talents too often get stuck at the moment when they should take action and be their most confident; the moment when you are about to lay down your audition. Under the pressures of auditioning, voice talents tend to maintain tunnel vision, falling into the trap of using their “go to” voice, when they really need to step back and contemplate the wider view. Hint: Trust your creative choice and use your “Real Voice”. I believe, more than ever before, you may find yourself delivering your creative best every time. And when you are auditioning please remember, he who laughs most, learns best!

John Cleese concludes with a beautiful articulation of the promise of his recipe for creativity:

“This is the extraordinary thing about creativity: If just you keep your mind resting against the subject in a friendly but persistent way, sooner or later you will get a reward from your unconscious.”

Enjoy a sample of his work!

May the reward of reading this blog be booking your next big gig on Realtime Casting!

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