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Fueled By death cast



Fueled By Death Cast Ep. 101 - BILL FARMER

VOICE ACTOR - BILL FARMER

"To children and adults all around the world, [these characters] really have a life of their own. And I take that very seriously If I can help someone out of a crummy day, or make them feel a little bit better then it's all worth it" Bill Farmer, voice actor, Disney Legend

 

 

PREVIEW:

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW

ABOUT BILL FARMER:

Bill Farmer is a Disney Legend and has been the voice of Goofy and Pluto since 1987. Bill has also lent his voice talent to many characters from Disney, Pixar and Warner Brothers, including voicing Yosemite Sam and ore in Space Jam. Bill talks about starting out with Goofy, how the industry has changed and working with the voice of our podcast, Brock Powell.

ON THIS WEEK'S COMPANION SHOW:

On this week's Science segment Dustin and Jeff talk about the possible super-earth discovered only 6 light years away. Also, the NASA InSight spacecraft will land on Mars on November 26th and be the first Mars rover to drill deep into the planet's interior. Thanksgiving traditions are up for debate on The Roast, and then all the deals coming on Black Friday and beyond are discussed on the Update.

DEATH STAR OF THE WEEK:

Meet this week's Death Star, Terri S. Klinder, in the show below:

 

TRANSCRIPT:

Jeff: You know, getting a chance to speak with you is such a treat for us, let me just start by saying that. And I wanted to start out by getting a perspective-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Of the voiceover industry-

Bill Farmer: Right.

Jeff: The voice acting industry.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Because ... and we actually just talked about this before we started recording. You were saying that like for a lot of the Disney work that you do, you go to the studio to do that.

Bill Farmer: Right, right.

Jeff: But we live an age now where like a lot of voice acting, people can just do it like over their phone-

Bill Farmer: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: Or at home.

Bill Farmer: I mean, the equipment here is the same equipment, same microphone that I use at the studios. The difference is that there we have a little bit more control, like if a plane comes over it's much ... a better treated room.

Jeff: Right, right.

Bill Farmer: So you don't have to worry about that kind of stuff.

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: Also, the engineers and the directors, it'd be a little cramped in here.

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: I could do my own recording, but their directors and everything it's just more control that they have to go to a professional studio.

Jeff: Do you enjoy going and-

Bill Farmer: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: Having the director there rather than doing it by yourself in a box kind of thing?

Bill Farmer: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I have to rely on the director because a principle recording on, let's say, a cartoon series, a lot of people think we're looking at the cartoon and we're adding the voices later on.

Jeff: That's what I imagined.

Bill Farmer: Yeah, no, no. Voices first. Because if I'm doing Goofy, or something, and I say, "Garsh, howdy Mick," and I want to "Garsh, howdy Mick [inaudible]", then I couldn't add that.

Jeff: If it wasn't there, right.

Bill Farmer: I would have to follow exactly what they had animated. But if they like that laugh, they do a soundtrack first and then animate to that.

Jeff: Wow.

Bill Farmer: So that's generally the procedure, and then we'll go in and if they have to change something because of legal reasons or something, then we do it to picture later on.

Jeff: Oh, just kind of like a punch it in at that point.

Bill Farmer: Principle recording is just the script and you in the booth.

Dustin: I think Mrs. Doubtfire gave us wrong concepts.

Bill Farmer: That's what everyone says. "Well, when Robin Williams ... " no, that's wrong.

Dustin: What, the movie lied to me?

Jeff: Thanks, movies, for lying to us again. Gosh. And I wanted to ask too, now with ... especially a character like Goofy and Mickey and stuff like that, there's a lot of different iterations of the characters-

Bill Farmer: Right.

Jeff: Like from the really young ... I forget what it is, the really young kid stuff that's out there, like Mickey's Clubhouse.

Bill Farmer: Oh, that's right, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse-

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And Mickey and the Roadster Racers, we're in production with now.

Jeff: Yeah, yeah.

Bill Farmer: But for the much older kids and a lot edgier stuff is the Mickey Mouse shorts.

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: And so it's kind of a parallel universe almost, it's like them back in the 30s, and it has a different style, we're much edgier, we have a lot more adult kind of humor and situations. And so yeah, these characters, which are the oldest in the world, I mean, you know, Mickey's been around since 1928 and he's still on TV every day.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: They're incredible characters and it seems like whatever you put these characters in, it just seems to work.

Jeff: Yeah, and from a voice acting standpoint, do you draw from the same well for each of these iterations of Goofy, or is it like a different ... like a blank slate for you?

Bill Farmer: Yeah, no, it's not a blank slate, because everyone knows Goofy's personality and voice, so that's kind of the standard. But you can change it around a little bit by putting him in different situations. And for example, the Mickey Mouse shorts, he's dressed like he was when they used to call him Dippy Dog back in the 1930s.

Dustin: Dippy Dog, wow.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: So he's a little bit more rural, a little bit more ... I almost even have been directed toward a kind of a, almost a little southern accent that's just a touch.

Dustin: Interesting.

Bill Farmer: But it's to kind of give him a little different take than you might see in Mickey and the Roadster Racers, or something, which is more the classic Goofy.

Jeff: The classic.

Bill Farmer: Yeah. And also it just differs between it's 2D, 3D, there's all different looks, but as long as the character is true to what the character's supposed to be, it works.

Jeff: Wow. And between all of these iterations, and the theme parks, and the video games-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: And the toys and stuff like that, how much Goofy work-

Bill Farmer: Oh my gosh.

Jeff: Do you do on like a weekly or monthly basis?

Bill Farmer: It's only a couple of ... maybe a session or two a week for Goofy. Other characters, we did a series, two seasons, one called a 7D, which is kind of a new look at the Seven Dwarves.

Jeff: Right.

Dustin: Oh, okay.

Bill Farmer: And I was the voice of a dog who was ... he was kind of the leader and the intelligent one. And so that I got to create from scratch, whereas Goofy was stepping into the shoes of Pinto Colvig, who originated the voice back in the 30s. It was much more fun to come up with your own character, because it is a blank slate there.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: But there's so much history with Goofy, I have to kind of watch that, and keep the character true.

Dustin: Yeah.

Jeff: Wow. Coming into that character, and correct me if I'm wrong, you started in '87?

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: '86?

Bill Farmer: January of '87 I started doing Goofy, yeah.

Jeff: As Goofy. Was it like enormous pressure?

Bill Farmer: No.

Jeff: Like coming onto something like that?

Bill Farmer: No, I didn't know what the hell I was getting into.

Jeff: That's the [inaudible]. That's the best.

Bill Farmer: I had done five years of standup before that-

Dustin: Oh, cool.

Bill Farmer: From '82, I started in stand up in Dallas. And so I was doing the comedy club circuit, and I started back in Texas with Bill Ingval, Sam Kinnison, Bill Hicks, all those guys.

Dustin: Wow.

Jeff: Yep.

Bill Farmer: Out of the Houston club, and so I was just doing local comedy and getting kind of better and better, and I finally got to where I was starting to headline at clubs. My agent there said, "You know, you do all these voices and impressions, why don't you go out to Hollywood and give it a shot?" I got an apartment out here, and I left my wife in Dallas, so I was commuting for about a year to see if ... we'll give it a year in Hollywood, see what happens.
And as luck would have it, about four months after I got here, my agent said, "Do you do any of the Disney characters?" And I said, "Well, I can kind of do Mickey Mouse," most people, "Gosh, oh boy," you know?

Jeff: Right, right.

Bill Farmer: You've got falsetto, you're kind of in the ballpark. And Donald's tough to do because I can go, "Oh boy!" That's all I could do.

Dustin: Right [crosstalk]

Jeff: It's tough, yeah.

Bill Farmer: I can't articulate, but, garsh, Goofy was my favorite as a kid and it just fell into it. You know, and I just ... so I just a cassette and over a weekend practiced the voice, laid it down to my agent, and you know, you don't know anything. And I guess I was up against about a thousand people that tried out.

Dustin: Wow.

Jeff: Wow.

Bill Farmer: But they liked mine. And it's not like ... they don't come to your and say, "You're now the voice of Goofy forever," you know? No, it was like for one show, and I had like two lines of ... a line of dialogue, and you don't know if it's going to be one time, they don't sign you to ... "Here's your long term contract!"

Dustin: It's like a Green Lantern ring.

Bill Farmer: Yeah, and I'm still like that. Every job's a new contract, I'm not a Disney employee. I'm not ... you know, I'm an independent contractor.

Jeff: Wow.

Bill Farmer: I'm like a plumber. They've got a contract, I come in, I do a cartoon and I go home.

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: Wow. How much has doing that voice affected your every day voice?

Bill Farmer: Oh, my every day voice, not too much, because I've done a lot of the Warner Bros stuff too.

Jeff: Yep.

Bill Farmer: Space Jam.

Jeff: Space Jam.

Bill Farmer: I did Silvester and Yosemite Sam, Foghorn, and "I say there boys a big chicken!" You know. And those are great characters, and those are what I grew up with even more than the Disney characters.

Jeff: Totally, totally.

Dustin: Yeah, same.

Bill Farmer: Because I saw them on TV a lot. But so, no, you just kind of ... it's a muscle thing really.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: It's like ... you know, you develop the muscles that you use over time. It's like ... I guess, like playing golf or something, it's like ... you know, you develop the muscles. You develop the swing-

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: And the more you do it, the more those muscles get developed and the better you can get at it.

Dustin: Well it's like, I imagine it's like singing.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: In my experience, I never started out as a good singer, but the more I did it-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: It started to pick up and all the sudden I had a voice.

Bill Farmer: And it's like anything with muscle that you use, muscle memory, it's like if you quit jogging for a couple of weeks and you go out and you go, "God, what happened?" You know? Same thing with voice, you just kind of got to do it all the time to keep the muscles in shape, and warm up like you would before you go jogging.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: So you don't like stretch a muscle or hurt your voice or anything, and other than that, it's kind of just keep doing it.

Dustin: Is there anything that you abstain from to keep your voice in shape, is there like ... do you try to like not-

Bill Farmer: Well I started smoking just so I could ... no, no, everyone always asks that and I really don't, and I've only missed maybe four days of work-

Dustin: Wow.

Bill Farmer: In the last 31 years of doing this. No, I just ... you know, I try not to yell too much, and I used to do a lot of video games, I really don't do that because always on the last day of video games, they always have the impacts and the deaths.

Dustin: [inaudible]

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: [inaudible]

Bill Farmer: I remember one director, one direction I got, and it was some video game where it was like zombies meet the army guys, and they said, "Okay now, the zombies ripped your arm off, and he's beating you with it." And what does that sound like?

Dustin: Stop beating me with my arm, please!

Bill Farmer: And so after a couple of hours of screaming like that, I started sounding like the Godfather.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And so I kind of gave up most of the video games, because I don't want to mess up Goofy and that like.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: That's the only thing, I just kind of watch it a little bit more as I get older.

Dustin: Yeah.

Jeff: Well, I think Goofy is such an impressive character as a whole, because I mean, even from the core characters of Disney, like-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: You know, Mickey is very even keeled.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Donald is gravel the entire time.

Bill Farmer: Right.

Jeff: Goofy, especially your Goofy, is ... there's that even toned Goofy, the one-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: That knows what he's doing-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: And the Goofy that falls off the cliff.

Bill Farmer: Yeah, [inaudible].

Jeff: Yeah, yeah. It's one end to the other end.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: And I mean like, I feel like as a fan of the character, like are there long sessions where you feel taxed in that?

Bill Farmer: Not really with the voice. In Goofy I could do it all day. The problem comes in is expanding the character, and the first time we really did that was on a Goofy movie. Because then he had to be a nurturing father, he had to feel sad that Max is lying to him-

Jeff: Totally.

Bill Farmer: He thought he was going to get in trouble and go to jail and all this stuff. And we'd never had to do that before. He was always, "Garsh, howdy!" You know-

Jeff: Right.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: He was always the happy go lucky-

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: Kind of totally optimistic, good natured guy.

Dustin: He never really faced adversity.

Bill Farmer: He never really had to be sad.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Yeah, and until we did that, and I didn't know really in the beginning on how to play that. But over time, we played with it and everything, and you kind of ... you know, you just yeah, got to let that emotion in, and even Goofy can be sad sometimes.

Jeff: Oh, gosh, I mean, as again just to fan out for a minute, in Goofy Movie when Max like gets in Goofy's face-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: He's like, "Get away from my, Dad!"

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: And you like really intone it, and you can feel the emotion of that character.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: And it's something, as a fan of Goofy, even as a kid watching the early Goofy-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: You've never, like you said, you've never seen that before.

Dustin: You see his vulnerability.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: You've never seen that vulnerability from that character, and you played it beautifully.

Bill Farmer: Oh, thanks.

Jeff: I have to say that.

Bill Farmer: Thanks, that was ... it was a lot of fun, and of course my son, Austin, I knew that the movie had heart because we went to an early screening of it. And he came out and he was crying. And I said, "What's the matter, buddy, didn't you like the movie?" He said, "Well, yeah, but when Goofy fell over the waterfall I thought that was you."

Jeff: Awwww.

Bill Farmer: You know, and so he's like ... but he's only about five when it came out, so he was really screwed up because all his friends, "Are you Goofy's brother, or are you Goofy's son? Is Max your brother?" And I don't know anymore. So ... you know Hollywood kids.

Jeff: Oh yeah, totally, oh my gosh. And like you said, you've gotten to do so many characters-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: From Disney, from Warner Bros, from additional stuff, all types of things. Has there-

Bill Farmer: A whole lot of Pixar movies.

Jeff: A lot of Pixar stuff.

Bill Farmer: Disney movies.

Jeff: Yeah. Has there ever been ... and I love asking voice actors this like because you guys get to really stretch your craft-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Especially with directors and writing and that kind of stuff. Has there ever been a character that was tougher for you than others, where-

Bill Farmer: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: Like something that really was like, oh ... not to say that you couldn't do it, but like really took more work than you thought it would?

Bill Farmer: Oh yeah, there's physical that take more work, and they're just physical, like ... well, I did something a long time ago where I was doing Wolfman Jack, if you remember the DJ-

Jeff: Oh, yeah.

Bill Farmer: "Oh yeah, baby, that was [inaudible]", you know, "That Wolfman Jack sort of thing."

Jeff: Love it.

Bill Farmer: And that constrained the voice physically-

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: After a while. Then there are the emotional ones, if they're like really screamy, and heavy duty emotional, which you don't have to do too much of in animation. Goofy movie was about the most emotionally that I can think of right off hand.
But sometimes, yeah, it can get kind of taxing. Staying also in a character you're not familiar with.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: You have to kind of keep reminding yourself until it becomes sense memory on okay, what would this character do and how would he say it, and that kind of thing.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: So sometimes, yeah, it can get a little hairy once in a while if you don't know the character that well.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: Coming up with your own original voice, I imagine that can be a little bit difficult as far as like the possibilities are endless, right?

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: But do you use like other influences, like oh maybe it's a little bit of this character mixed with this character-

Bill Farmer: Oh, absolutely.

Dustin: Mixed with this.

Bill Farmer: Absolutely. All the time. And sometimes you go on a gut feel, other ones like ... a lot of celebrities, especially from like 1930s and '40s, you can use again because today don't know them.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Billy West when he did Ren and Stimpy, you know, using Peter Laurie, "I had a voice like this with Peter ... " And then as Stimpy, the, "You idiot!" You know? All it is is taking that character that he knew, and expanding on it.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And so a lot of times you'll do impressions. And that's one great way to come up with voices is to do impressions of people you don't do impressions of. No one knows who you're doing, but it's in your ... it's going to be something.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And you can use it.

Jeff: One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite voice actors outside of you, actually, is from Rob Paulson-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: And he ... I think ... I forget exactly how he says it, but it's ... he says that he does a lot of bad impressions of famous people, and that is what turns into some of his most iconic characters.

Bill Farmer: Absolutely, absolutely. When I first came out here I took classes from Daws Butler-

Jeff: Oh my gosh.

Bill Farmer: He's a great voice actor-

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: He did all the Hannah Barbera stuff.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: Wow.

Bill Farmer: And he was telling me like Yogi Bear was a guy he knew in Chicago that he did a bad impression of. "Hey Bobo, how's it going?" And Huckleberry Hound was a cousin of his in North Carolina. So he was just doing that voice, and on Mickey and the Roadster Racers I do about 12 different characters on that show.

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: Whoa.

Bill Farmer: And one is the mayor who was basically ... he kind of has a voice that sounds kind of like this, who I'm basically doing Frank Morgan from the Wizard of Oz.

Dustin: Oh, okay.

Bill Farmer: That's my Frank Morgan impression.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And then there's Mr. Bigby, who's very foghorn, "Got to [inaudible]" you know, very similar to that. And there was another one, Mr. McBilly who I'm basically doing Casey Kasem. And then kind of every once in awhile, "Hey, that's really bad," you know, and stuff like that. So you play with these things.

Jeff: Oh, man.

Dustin: Yeah, that makes sense.

Jeff: It's great to have like a Rolodex of those types of voices too, because like you were saying, like I love ... I've been a lover of actual voice acting like my entire life, and I love impressionism and stuff like that.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: I get a lot of these references.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: I know a lot of these old timey things. But a lot of people don't.

Bill Farmer: And it's just like an extra thrill if you know it, it's like recognizing ... an inside joke in a movie.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Like in a Star Wars, if you don't know the first one, you don't know when they put something in the background or like ... I think there was a Star Trek movie that had like ... was it Star Trek or something, or where they actually had like a ... federation of planets and they had like the little E.T. Like the little-

Jeff: Oh, yeah, yeah, that was Star Wars actually, yeah.

Bill Farmer: That was a Star Wars.

Jeff: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Bill Farmer: Yeah, and they had the E.T.-

Jeff: Yep.

Bill Farmer: Just that little stuff, if you hadn't seen E.T. you would know that.

Jeff: You wouldn't catch it.

Bill Farmer: But I got that, you know.

Dustin: Yeah.

Jeff: Oh my gosh. So ... I kind of want to get into a more serious topic-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Because I'm curious about this. What are your thoughts on the industry today?

Bill Farmer: Okay.

Jeff: Because voice acting today seems to be a much more saturated industry-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Than it was, especially because a lot of studios are creating things that seem to be more of a celebrity-

Bill Farmer: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: Star based kind of thing.

Dustin: Right.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: What is your thought on that kind of?

Bill Farmer: They've always used celebrities, from back in ... even the old days they used to film things like Alice in Wonderland, they used Ed Wynn as the Mad Hatter. And they really dressed him up as the Mad Hatter and filmed these guys, and then animated, rotoscoped right from the film.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: Oh, man.

Bill Farmer: So they've used celebrities forever. The problem is when they stick in a celebrity just for celebrity's sake.

Jeff: Right.

Dustin: And they do that a lot.

Jeff: They do that a lot.

Bill Farmer: Yeah, yeah, it's like ... let's see, well like Tom Hanks was great as Woody, and Tim Allen was great as Buzz Lightyear, they originated those characters and they were based on their personalities.

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: That's fine. Because that's based upon who they are, and their public persona. Then they had like the Yogi Bear movie, and they had Dan Akroyd do the voice.

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: Well now you're just trying to fit a celebrity rather than get the best person that can do Yogi Bear.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: They wanted a celebrity in there, and for that reason I don't think the movie worked as well.

Dustin: Right.

Bill Farmer: And when they just have it for celebrity's sake, and that's the main reason, "Hey, we can get Catherine Zeta Jones to do this."

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: Well, there's a lot of great voice actors that can do probably a better job, or at least as good a job. If you want ... if you want Arnold, if you want Arnold in a cartoon you could get Arnold, or you could have someone, a voice actor do it as well. But if you want Arnold, you go to Arnold. If you want this character, do an audition, find the best voice for that character.

Jeff: I agree.

Bill Farmer: Regardless of who it is.

Jeff: I agree, because I think what's lost on a lot of people, especially like the younger generation coming into this cartoon boom-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: This animation boom, this voice acting boom, is they miss out on the idea that you guys are actors.

Bill Farmer: Oh absolutely.

Jeff: First.

Bill Farmer: Absolutely.

Jeff: It's not just my voice sounds like Tom Hanks, and therefore I am Woody, like-

Bill Farmer: Right.

Jeff: That's not what it is. It's like you need to be an actor first.

Bill Farmer: Absolutely, that's what Daws Butler taught us all. And a lot of his successful students include Nancy Cartwright, and Corey Burton, and a bunch of guys. And he said, "You're an actor." It's not voice acting, it's voice acting. Emphasis on the acting.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: There are a lot of guys that come in and say, "You know, I've got a great voice, people tell me I've got a great voice, I should be a voice actor."

Dustin: You should be a radio DJ.

Bill Farmer: That's kind of like saying, "I've got a great guitar, I should be a guitarist."

Jeff: I'd never heard that, that's great, yeah.

Bill Farmer: That ... your voice is your instrument, can you play it? Can you act with it?

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: That's the important part.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: Can you put emotion behind it?

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And maintain that character for four or five hours.

Dustin: Yeah.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: You've got be creative constantly.

Bill Farmer: Exactly.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Exactly, you've got to be able to emote and bring emotion and life to that character, otherwise you're just doing a voice, and a voice without the emotional life behind it is hollow and doesn't work.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: It's a radio DJ.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Yeah, exactly. I have to ask too, when you took on the role as Goofy originally-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Did you also audition as Pluto?

Bill Farmer: That actually came ... yeah, I did audition as Pluto about the same time.

Jeff: Because I had to know, like is it a dog package?

Bill Farmer: Not at the same time.

Jeff: Is it a dog package, Disney's like, "This is the dog package."

Bill Farmer: I think they did audition me for that, but it wasn't in the same audition. And it was a less formal one.

Jeff: Bark on command.

Bill Farmer: Yeah, it was like ... I think it was at one of the sessions they say, "Let's hear ... can you do Pluto?" Because I think they're thinking was Pinto Colvig who did Goofy quite often did Pluto, and they wanted to see if I had the same kind of chops. And it worked, and yeah, so it was a less stringent audition process, but I did audition for it, yeah.

Jeff: That's awesome. Do you ... and in the industry now, as a Disney legend-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: As someone who has done so many voices, do you still audition?

Bill Farmer: Oh, all the time. All the time. I did three auditions today.

Dustin: Whoa.

Bill Farmer: For commercials and for an upcoming animated series, and so for one of the characters. Yeah. And they don't give me any breaks, it's ... now occasionally they'll say, "We want Bill to do this thing."

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: But rarely. Still I've got to audition, and it's still a crapshoot. I might do 100 auditions for every one character that I get still. And that's doing fine, because there's so many people, there's 100,000, 150,000 SAG members in LA. And on any given week I've heard the figure maybe 10 or 15,000 jobs. So-

Dustin: Whoa.

Bill Farmer: On any given week there's like 140,000 out of work actors. So it's very, very competitive. And these are the people that paid the 3,000 bucks or whatever to join the union.

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: Now with non union work out there, and everyone can do it from their studio in Nebraska or something, that is where the industry's really finding a problem, because if you're a producer and you're doing a cartoon series, "Well, this guy in Nebraska will do it for 50 bucks." Well, that's great, he'll get 50 bucks, but it just lowers the bar for everyone until it becomes a glorified hobby and no one can really make a living.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: It's tough enough as it is, and all the streaming services and stuff are now engaged in kind of a thing, a potential animation strike with the unions over residuals-

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Which is the lifeblood for most actors.

Jeff: Totally.

Bill Farmer: Because if you do one out of 100 auditions and you get it, and let's say it's 1,000 bucks, you go in. Well, you know, you might not get the next one til several months later-

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: Or a half a year, and then okay, you've got 2,000 bucks for the year.

Jeff: Right.

Bill Farmer: It's hard to pay the bills with that.

Dustin: I imagine. I imagine.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: It sounds crazy. So I guess then my next line of questioning would be what would be your advice for people trying to break into this industry?

Bill Farmer: Okay, get rich parents.

Dustin: Okay.

Jeff: Number one.

Bill Farmer: No, you've got to do this not because you think you're going to make a ton of money, or you're going to get glory and fame and all that stuff. You've got to do it because you have to do it. You've got to do it because you just have to do it.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: You've got to be involved in this creative process. I stuck around and I did stand up for a number of years, and but before that I did radio for a number of years, and I got out of that into electronics and I worked as an electronic technician in a cubicle and all of that kind of stuff and I just ... I missed it. And so it was back in 1982, I was at a comedy club and they have an open mic night, and I said, you know, next week I'm going to do it. And I signed up. I just said, "I've got to try this." And I was about 28 or nine when I tried it for the first time. I didn't have the guts to really try it.
And I went up, and I got a pretty good response, and I started coming back and I said, "You know ... " And the day before I got married to my wife 34 years ago, we quit our jobs, I quit the electronics job to go full time into stand up comedy. Said, "We're going to give it a shot and see what happens." So sometimes you've just got to jump off the cliff and hope there's a net.

Dustin: Wow.

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: That's so cool.

Jeff: Yeah, for sure.

Bill Farmer: And for me, it worked out.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Now, you know, that's a very rare thing and I was very fortunate because Goofy and Mickey and Donald are the probably oldest surviving characters that are on TV all the time.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And there's no other characters like them. And so as much as ... that's as much what I'd call job security in this business as you can get.

Dustin: Oh, yeah.

Jeff: Of course, of course.

Bill Farmer: Because I've done about 3800 or 4,000 different shows for Disney over the last 30 years.

Dustin: Wow.

Jeff: Wow. Wow. And-

Dustin: Do you still do stand up?

Bill Farmer: I did stand up last night.

Jeff: Oh last night.

Dustin: Oh, cool.

Bill Farmer: At the Burbank Comedy Festival, I was asked to go down there and give it a shot. I hadn't done it in about three of four years-

Dustin: Wow.

Bill Farmer: But it went over really well.

Dustin: Awesome.

Bill Farmer: And it's always good to be doing something in front of an audience.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Because standup was the best training I ever had. You get instant feedback.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: If you suck, they'll let you know. If you're great, they let you know. It's very honest. And you also learn timing, which is real important when you get a script. How do you say a line? When you learn on stage in front of an audience, after a while you kind of get the idea on how to say this line to get the most laughs out of it. That's real important when you're behind the glass, because they give you a script, you've got to know how to say that line and just have an intuitive way of saying it to bring out the most funny.
And if you don't ... and I didn't get that in radio. I thought I was funny. But you know-

Jeff: But you didn't have the feedback.

Bill Farmer: But you don't get that feedback so you don't know.

Jeff: Oh, wow.

Bill Farmer: But you do know when you ... it can be very brutal-

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: But if you can survive that first few months, it's great training.

Jeff: Wow.

Dustin: Oh, man.

Bill Farmer: Or improv's the same kind of thing. Any time you're in front of an audience, you get that feedback and that's so important for a performer.

Dustin: Do you do a lot of improv as well?

Bill Farmer: I used to, I worked for about the last 15 years with Fred Willard-

Jeff: Oh awesome.

Bill Farmer: And his sketch comedy group, which was called The Mohos. And I haven't done that in the last few years, I've gotten very busy because I'm on like three or four series right now, and so, and I've been doing stuff with students, and teaching, and all of that, so I've been too busy to do it anymore.

Jeff: Wow. And that brings me to my next question, speaking of students-

Dustin: Great segue, Jeff.

Jeff: Thank you.

Dustin: I knew you were going to take it.

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: It was there.

Jeff: Our mutual friend and the voice of this podcast is Brock Powell.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: And when we had Brock on, on this show, he told his origin story. He told how ... and he told about how he had this epiphany, and he wanted to go into voice acting, and he wrote Bill Farmer-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: A letter. And I wanted to hear your side of this story, because I don't believe him.

Bill Farmer: I went to the window one day, "Who's the kid camping out in the front yard?" No, but he did, he contacted me and wanted to take classes and stuff, and I, "Sure, come on over." And we did his demo tape, and he's done really well with that. And got the Kool Aid man and a bunch of other stuff.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And now is on a series, and we got to work together a couple of weeks ago on a series for Disney-

Jeff: Oh, that's awesome.

Bill Farmer: Which was a lot of fun doing some animal noises and stuff.

Jeff: That's awesome.

Bill Farmer: So he ... and he became great friends first with me, and then my son Austin-

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And they've become inseparable.

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And he's almost like ... you know, Austin just says, "He's trying to take over for me, watch my back."

Jeff: That's-

Bill Farmer: But he's a great kid, and I still call him a kid, but he's a great performer. And he's just, yeah, he's very funny and that goes a long way in this business.

Dustin: I mean, you must contacted a lot for this kind of thing.

Bill Farmer: Oh, yeah.

Dustin: What made his letter stand out enough to want you to take him under his wing, you know?

Bill Farmer: Well, actually because he came and he became a friend, he just has a great personality.

Dustin: Yes.

Bill Farmer: And I certainly don't, and can't do that with all my students, but-

Dustin: Right.

Bill Farmer: They're all friends. I don't know what it is, it's just ... he refuses to go away.

Dustin: Yeah.

Jeff: It's the truth. That's the ... I think that's how we became friends with Brock too.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: Yeah, things like ... we met him at a Baltimore Comicon.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: And it was like, "Brock, go away."

Bill Farmer: I know, yeah.

Dustin: But he kept on coming back.

Jeff: Oh my gosh.

Dustin: No, he's just-

Bill Farmer: And then he starts bringing over laundry, and you know. "You going to use that other room you got?" Or whatever, you know, so ...

Dustin: Well he's so magnetic-

Bill Farmer: He is.

Dustin: And I'm sure that's-

Bill Farmer: He is.

Dustin: A big reason why he's finding success in this industry, because-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: Not only is he magnetic in his personality, he can translate that to his creative voice-

Bill Farmer: Right.

Dustin: Side of things.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: Where do you see him going?

Bill Farmer: I think as far as he wants to go, he's got a great work ethic, he has ... and the thing about this business, it can kind of obsess you if you're not careful.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And he can be a little obsessive sometimes. I'm just trying to teach him balance. That this is ... it's a job. It doesn't necessarily, it's not 100% of your life. You're doing fine, take your time, enjoy the ride, it's the ride that's the important thing.

Dustin: Well, you get to have that-

Bill Farmer: Mr. Miyagi. Mr. Miyagi.

Dustin: Yeah, I know, I was about to say Jedi master. You get to have that because you have hindsight-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: Were you restless like that too when you were young?

Bill Farmer: Sure, everyone is. They want it all now.

Dustin: Yeah, right.

Bill Farmer: But he's got a lot of time. I've been there, I know.

Dustin: I feel that in my industry, I just want-

Bill Farmer: Yeah, sure.

Dustin: I just want to get everything done.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: Get all the shit done, all the time.

Bill Farmer: And that's great, but just realize from this end looking back, you've got time, you're doing fine. Enjoy it.

Dustin: That's good to know.

Jeff: Awesome.

Bill Farmer: Enjoy it, it's not, "I'll enjoy it when I get here," no, enjoy it now, and you'll enjoy that then too.

Jeff: Wow. So through it all in your career and up until this moment, the question we ask every single guest on this show-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: What fuels you to keep doing it? To keep creating and to keep getting out there and doing it?

Bill Farmer: It is a blast ever since I was a kid. And I used to go to our little one theater in my little hometown in Kansas, and oh, when I was a kid we'd have like double features, and cartoons and everything, all Saturday. And it was really kind of a boring little town, and so I just got transfixed by the whole movie industry, and said, "I want to do that."

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: And it's still fun. I love going to work. People say, "When are you going to retire?" I'm not going to retire, why?

Jeff: Why?

Bill Farmer: It's fun. It makes people happy, it's creative, it keeps you young, and it keeps you doing stuff, so why not continue? You know, it's like ... it's a blast.

Jeff: That's awesome.

Dustin: How much longer do you think you'll be ... do you think you'll ever retire?

Bill Farmer: No.

Dustin: You think you'll just do it-

Bill Farmer: I don't ever plan on retiring.

Dustin: That's awesome.

Bill Farmer: I'm taking Goofy with me.

Jeff: Excellent.

Bill Farmer: No, as long as they want me, until I'm 100 and, "Do Goofy!" Ayuck. I used to Goofy. [inaudible] it's time for a nap."

Jeff: You did say that Goofy's always in there.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Jeff: Does he ever sneak out and surprise you?

Bill Farmer: Oh yeah. There's a Goofy curse that goes along with this.

Jeff: Really?

Bill Farmer: Oh yeah, whenever I do something stupid I blame it on Goofy. And an example of that, true story, I was putting up Christmas lights and I had the ... you know, the ladder out there, my sweats on, and [inaudible].

Dustin: I think I saw this episode.

Bill Farmer: And I stepped down off the ladder, and my foot hit a riser on the lawn sprinkler system, and I fell backwards, and there's a rose bush back there. And that would be Goofy enough, but I ... my pants got caught on the first rose bush, it ripped them down as I fell bare assed into the second rose bush.

Dustin: Oh no! Oh no.

Bill Farmer: So it's like, you know, it's like the Three Stooges. My wife is pulling thorns out of my butt. [inaudible] Ow! You know. True story.

Dustin: Oh, no.

Bill Farmer: And I said, "That's the Goofy curse."

Jeff: Oh ...

Dustin: And that happens a lot?

Bill Farmer: More than I'd like it to, yeah. So not too often, but every once in a while, eh, there's Goofy.

Dustin: Did it happen before Goofy or is it just-

Bill Farmer: No, not like that.

Dustin: Oh, okay.

Bill Farmer: In the old days it would've been the first rose bush I would've fell in and there you go.

Dustin: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: That's funny. But no, the first one then the second one. Right in a row, that's Goofy.

Dustin: Yeah, that's amazing.

Jeff: Wow. Wow. Bill, I can't thank you enough for sitting down and talking with us.

Dustin: Oh, thank you, it's a pleasure.

Jeff: Because we're big fans of what you do, and what you bring to the world, because when it really comes down to it, with the talent that you have and the creation that you create, it's all about the joy that you bring in people. And I just can't say enough about how the world needs more of that.

Bill Farmer: Oh yeah, yeah, as messed up as the world is, any ... the sense that I can brighten up someone's day, and we occasionally do that, we'll talk to kids in hospitals and stuff-

Jeff: Yeah.

Dustin: That's cool.

Bill Farmer: Make A Wish Foundation, stuff like that. And one story sticks in my head. Wayne Allwine who did Mickey, and passed away unfortunately in 2009-

Jeff: Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Got a call from a woman whose daughter had leukemia. And was just fighting the chemotherapy and all this stuff, she had a bad outlook and was kind of slipping down. And so Mickey gets on the phone, and I was doing Pluto at the time, so I didn't really talk to her, but he said, "Gosh, you know, when Pluto he doesn't feel good, he takes his medicine and he feels real good. Right, Pluto?" [inaudible] And then we hung up and about a couple of months, Wayne got a call or letter from the woman that said just because of that call, the girl's attitude totally changed. And she started willingly taking the medication and chemotherapy and stuff, and went into remission.
And so I never take it lightly that these characters have kind of a ... they're important.

Jeff: Yes.

Bill Farmer: They're real-

Jeff: Yes.

Bill Farmer: To children and adults all around the world, they really have a life of their own. And I take that very seriously. And if I can help someone out of a crummy day, or make them feel a little bit better then it's all worth it, and that's kind of my, I guess, the legacy that you're going to leave after you go. Goofy will be around a lot longer than me, and so people, maybe 50, 100 years from now can still enjoy what I do. And that's kind of a cool feeling.

Jeff: Heck yeah.

Dustin: Well I think when you teach people like Brock-

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: It just kind of echoes-

Bill Farmer: Absolutely, yeah.

Dustin: It's a ripple effect.

Bill Farmer: Pass it on.

Dustin: And I'm sure the generosity that you've showed him and other people, they'll show that onto other people.

Bill Farmer: Yeah.

Dustin: It's more than just this character that's bringing joy, it's you and the people that you're putting this generosity onto who put it onto other people is actually making the world a better place.

Bill Farmer: Yeah. Hey, and if everyone did that, the world would be a better place.

Jeff: Darn right, darn right. Thank you so much.

Dustin: Yeah. Yeah.

Bill Farmer: Oh, my pleasure.

Jeff: Thank you so much.

Bill Farmer: My pleasure.

Dustin: Yeah, thank you.

Jeff: Excellent.

Dustin: Thank you, Bill, cheers.

Bill Farmer: Garsh, thanks.