ANIMANIACS IN CONCERT!: Rob Paulsen On Why Tomorrow's Show Is For The Child In People Of All Ages (Exclusive)
Animaniacs In Concert! kicks off tomorrow night in Phoenix and we spoke exclusively with Yakko and Pinky voice actor Rob Paulsen about what the audience can expect from the show and why it appeals to all ages.
Tomorrow sees the start of Animaniacs in Concert! with the tour kicking off in Phoenix, AZ at the Madison Center for the Arts. Rob Paulsen, the voice actor behind Yakko in Animaniacs and Pinky from Pinky and the Brain, heads up the performance.
Rob is multi-talented and Animaniacs is only one of the characters he's brought to life. In addition to those two characters, he is also well-known for voicing Raphael and Donatello in the animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shows.
We spoke with Rob ahead of tomorrow's concert to give fans an idea of what to expect. We dove right into it and you can hear our audio chat, a written transcript, and full video interview below, depending on your preference.
"This will be the first show that Randy and I do in the next bunch of shows. It was supposed to be in January of this year but was postponed for another eight months. Randy and I are so thrilled to be back doing it. It is absolutely a family show, and when we say that, it is a family show; however, it's not for little kids.
By that, I mean it's not Barney, and there are some PG-13 moments because, as you can imagine, when you get a bunch of creative people together who are acting like a bunch of kids, things get pretty fun, and sometimes a light shade of blue. But it really is for children of all ages because the very nature of popular animation is the extent to which it affects people in their childhood nostalgia gene."
"(In Yakko's Voice) If I start saying "Hello, Joe!" look what happens to your handsome face, you can't help it. It's just like if Mel Blank were here and said, "What's Up Doc?" or if Seth MacFarlane started riffing as Stewie, you can't not smile, assuming you enjoy the show.
And when characters become iconic, not my word, critics, but Pinky, Yakko, Raphael, Carl Wheezer to some extent, those are becoming iconic characters regardless of who the actor is. I realize, look, I don't draw them, I don't write them, but when it works seamlessly at that level, they transcend generations."
"So that's why the show is unique in that it appeals to literally children of all ages or the child in people of all ages. Because those shows, the humor was pretty subversive and pretty smart when you were a little guy. I would say that there were some jokes you would get watching old Animaniacs episodes that you didn't get when you were a kid. And that was completely and utterly by design. That was the edict from Steven Spielberg as an homage to Loony Tunes, Rocky and Bowinkle, The Jetsons, Flintstones, to not write stuff like Barney or Teletubbies. It's not about that. It's more like a more subversive Sesame Street, that is to say, some jokes were supposed to make you go, "Oh my God, that's naughty!" and they work.
So it really is great when we see people your age and their kids and then people your parents' age. Inevitably at that show, Joe, you will see very little kids, and you'll see people older than me. It's crazy how specifically Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain appeal to such an incredible breadth of ages. So what you're gonna see are probably 20 songs, all written by my genius partner who wrote Yakko's World.
We do those songs, and we do a number of them with the giant cartoon behind us. And I will lip-sync, and the music is coming from the stage, and the voice is coming from the stage, but it's in sync with the cartoon. It's a pretty cool parlor trick. It works really well. But also the information and the stories about how the songs came about and songs that never made it. So to this day, I listen to Randy cause I've got the best seat in the house. And I think, "Jesus Christ, how did that song not end up in Animaniacs?" And of course, Randy is writing songs for the new Animaniacs, and it's very entertaining, informative."
"Maurice is going to be there. So we have Pinky and the Brain. Randy has written a song specifically for Pinky and the Brain that has never been produced except in the live show. And it's really clever. The way it's set up, the way it happens, is really great, staged beautifully. In terms of what you'll see on stage, nothing spectacular, except a couple of old Hollywood dogs doing their thing. And so I kind of like that, obviously as a performer, it's great just to be up there and relying on your talent to do the show.
There are no pyrotechnics, no fabulous staging. We don't have a crazy budget. We have a wonderful licensing deal with Warner Brothers, but they don't put any money into it. So in my view, kind of like voice acting, Joe, it's the purest form of entertainment. It's about the pure joy of Randy's music, the nostalgia, and some really cool inside baseball stuff that so far fans, and as they say, fans and critics alike, seem to really enjoy it."
"If you go to our website You'll see the kind of feedback in the places which we performed. And it's pretty cool. You're not going to see 10,000 people. It'll probably be, I don't know, seven to eight hundred people. I don't know how big that venue is, but it's not about that. I would love it if it were, but it's just about people who are fans of really great novelty music, some of which has become kind of embedded in the culture of the world.
I think you can argue that Yakko's World, irrespective of the language of the person listening, doesn't take you long to go, "Holy shit. That's crazy." And so there are some of those songs that have become pretty popular with, you know, 20, 30 million views on YouTube. And, it's cool to see how they were made and break them down. We do a Q and A, so it's great fun. And I'm really looking forward to hearing what you and your fiance think about it."
What do you guys think of these comments from Rob? Will you be checking out Animaniacs in Concert this weekend? In any regard, check out our exclusive video interview with Rob supporting Animaniacs in Concert below!
Legendary voice actor Rob Paulsen chats with us about his upcoming live performances of Animaniacs in Concert! We also talk about his ideas for a live-action Pinky and the Brain film as well as an animated Animaniacs feature.
Rob answers a number of fan questions and even goes as far as to sing his updated version of Yakko's World in character for us. He talks more about his fan crossover with Tohoru Masamune's Shredder as well as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in general.
Rob tells stories about how he was inspired to put his audience ahead of himself from experiences he has shared not only with special fans, but also with heroes like Gordy Howe and Steven Spielberg. Clocking in at just over an hour, this chat has a little bit for everyone.
Animaniacs in Concert! will be live in Phoenix, AZ, at the Madison Center For The Arts tomorrow, Saturday, August 28th, at 7 pm.