SF Sketchfest Presents an Afternoon With Pinky and the Brain


From We Heart Music

SF Sketchfest Presents an Afternoon With Pinky and the Brain
Wednesday, 30 January 2013

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Animaniacs was an incredible cartoon at an age when I was supposed to be outgrowing cartoons (except for the Simpsons of course, which wasn’t for kids). I never imagined that Pinky and the Brain would take on a cult status of their own, or that the twenty first century would mean I’d be ordering Pinky and the Brain cocktails at Brooklyn superhero themed dive bars (Gotham City Lounge, under the M stop at Central) or I would be spending a Sunday afternoon just to see the men behind the voices be absolutely gracious to the kind of geeks who would come out in honor of a twenty year old cartoon.

For those of you who missed the cartoon the first time around, Pinky and the Brain were a pair of genetically engineered lab mice, one sullen and smart and sounding an awful lot like George Orwell known as the Brain, and a lanky hyperactive one with some serious brain damage known as Pinky. Their basic plot was simple, Pinky would ask “Gee, Brain, what do you want to do tonight?” and the Brain would answer “The same thing we do every night, Pinky—try to take over the world!” before diving into some convoluted plot to rule the planet that never went quite right (with one exception in a Christmas episode for those of you who are going to write in to correct me). Some highlights from the SF Sketchfest panel:

Rob Paulsen describes himself as a “singer who became an actor”. He treated the audience to I Left My Heart in San Francisco, various snippets of Led Zepplin songs as Pinky and, as the Anamaniac’s Wakko Warner, “Yakko’s World” and “Variety Speak”. He reminisced that the Anamaniacs may have been the last cartoon to have its own 30-40 piece orchestra everyday, and Maurice LaMarche added that there was a special tone that came from using the same soundstage where the classic Chuck Jones cartoons were scored.

Paulsen has an extensive career as a voice actor and there is no way I can cover all the characters and commercials he talked about working on. The same for Maurice LaMarche,  even my boyfriend who is a genius at matching cartoon voices to actors was occasionally stunned when he mentioned one that had slipped past him (particularly that LaMarche also voices Kif Kroker on Futurarama, or the most recent voice of Lexus).

Overall like their characters, LaMarche Brain was the quieter of the two, but when at the moderators request he read “Le Big Mac” scene from Pulp Fiction (with much concern for the swearing as there were children in the audience) as the Brain playing Vincent and Pinky as Jules the audience was laughing at why they never thought of how funny that could be.

During the open question and answer period, one audience member asked “How would you take over the world now?” LaMarche deadpanned as if the Brain was still concocting plots in his spare time, “Facebook…I wanted to call it Brainbook but Pinky thought that was too obvious.”

Both men continue to do voice work on a variety of cartoons and commercials you’ll recognize, and Paulsen produces a podcast atrobpaulsenlive.com if you would like to hear more songs from his many characters. Mostly, if you want to learn more about voice acting and ALL your favorite 90s (and beyond) cartoons, go see them if you ever have the chance!

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