‘Bob’s Burgers’ Kristen Schaal Is the Quirky Dubbing Queen

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Kristen Schaal has a golden larynx. Hearing him speak, whether in performance or on a recent phone call, is like listening to the pure, sweet tones of the funny. But ask the Hollywood directors who hired her to describe the magic behind those pipes, and any concise description only scratches the surface.

Raphael Bob-Waksberg, the creator of “BoJack Horseman”, revels in “the deranged sweetness of his childbirth”.

Josh Cooley, who directed her in ‘Toy Story 4’, says she has a “unique quality to her voice to begin with – when mixed with her impeccable comedic timing and ability to deliver any line hilarious – makes her a powerful performer”.

And Loren Bouchard, creator of “Bob’s Burgers” and director of the new “Bob’s Burgers Movie” (opening Friday), says of Schaal: “She understood how her natural personality can also be a voice that she lends to her characters. Once you have that, there is no stopping you.

The Emmy-nominated actress is aiming to avoid being pigeonholed, but she’s well aware that some casting directors are now referring to a “Kristen Schaal type”, stating on Marc Maron’s podcast several years ago that their quick description of her as a performer might just be, “She’s maniacal and a bit crazy, coming out of that sweet face and voice.”

Whatever the chemistry within her artistry, there’s no doubt that Schaal has carved out an animation niche for herself within her larger resume: she’s the queen of askew expression.

You’ve probably heard Kristen Schaal even if you didn’t know you were hearing Kristen Schaal.

She was a rising New York comic about 15 years ago when she was cast as Mel, the sweet-talking stalker who befriends the main band of HBO’s “Flight of the Conchords.” This exhibition – play this type — opened wide the doors of casting. Her winning live action gigs to follow included ’30 Rock’ and ‘The Last Man on Earth’ and she served as ‘Senior Female Correspondent’. on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”. She’s also teamed up with the circle of Kiwi comedy artists who brought you “Conchords,” for series like “What We Do in the Shadows” and this spring’s popular HBO Max pirate comedy “Our Flag Means Death.” .

Yet he acts for the animation that isolates the wonders of Schaal’s voice – an instrument that sings and soars and comes alive with a warm kinetic tickle.

Speaking from the Los Angeles area last week as she traveled to ‘Bob’s Burger Movie’ promotional events, Schaal says she relished her roles in hit animated series such as ‘Gravity Falls’ (voice by the young Mabel Pines), “BoJack Horseman” (Sarah Lynn) and “Adventure Time” (Jake Jr.), as well as the recent films “Toy Story” (Trixie). And she loves voicing Louise Belcher, the feisty tween who prefers a pink bunny-eared hat, on “Bob’s Burgers,” the Fox family comic book comedy that gave her steady, critically acclaimed work for 12 seasons. and more.

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life – career-wise it’s more than a dream come true for me, 100 times more,” says Schaal, 42. “I work on shows that I find are really special.

Often what she finds special is the ability to play quirky humor, expertly unleashing an offbeat delivery. sometimes it’s as sunny and a bit cheesy as that by Gracie Allen, whose work Schaal studied. “If I get cast on a show,” she says, “I just know it’s going to be a little weird show and I’m just excited.”

Schaal enjoys playing intelligent characters who can be overzealous, scheming, or slightly off-balance – even when they’re children. “He’s a smart firecracker,” Schaal says of Louise, who is also always vulnerable and sometimes insecure. “She still has emotions that are a bit new to her.”

Louise is one of three children in the Belcher family, whose parents – buzzy, often beleaguered Bob and resolutely positive Linda – run a greasy spoon by the sea. Louise, the youngest, is a study in passionate responses, 9-year-old underhanded manipulations and narcissism.

Bouchard, who directed ‘The Bob’s Burgers Movie’ alongside Bernard Derriman, thinks Schaal brings a “sparkling, youthful silliness” to Louise, but also knows how to mix innocence and knowledge: “It’s like a little daughter and a wise woman at the exact same time.”

Schaal also has a gift for playing humor as well as seriousness. “My main asset is that I am do not in a comedy – there’s nothing funny about any of the character situations,” Schaal says. “If you’re acting right, you’re not acting. for laughter – you are playing the truth.

Schaal takes this approach to the point of feeling protective if her character is slandered in a scene: “I get really upset when someone says something mean about her – even though they deserve it.”

The East Village was away from Longmont.

Schaal grew up on a ranch in this Colorado community outside of Boulder, born into a strong Lutheran family whose father built urban structures. The first time she remembers being funny publicly was in the freshman year of high school, when she very seriously read a poem in front of her fellow forensic debaters. The whole room laughed.

“At that moment,” she recalls, “I realized I had a tool to make people laugh: to be serious.”

She attended the University of Colorado and then Northwestern, where she studied acting. A speech therapy teacher once told her that she had an “excruciating lisp.” She leaned over it.

Schaal then headed to New York and gradually worked her way into the comedy scene at now-defunct clubs like the Lower East Side’s Luna Lounge, which hosted the weekly alternative comedy show “Eating It,” and the underground room Rififi, where Bouchard caught comedy from Schaal and his future “Bob’s Burgers” bandmate, Eugene Mirman.

Schaal enjoyed creating alternative conceptual comedy and performance art at the time, even winning the Andy Kaufman Award at the New York Comedy Festival, while performing improv and co-hosting a variety show.

Today, however, she doesn’t miss being a live-action comic for her day-to-day life.

“Stand-up is a the beast,” she says. She loves the first few times a new track lands — the comedian and audience share that live surprise that a joke worked — but on repeat, the magic for her becomes a simple “manipulation” of the crowd.

“One thing I’ve always cherished about TV and animation,” Schaal says, “is that you’re in on the joke when it’s new – and it’s forever fresh.”

Schaal is a star vocal artist almost everywhere except her home.

She enjoys doing vocals for her 4-year-old daughter, Ruby, while performing at their Los Angeles-area home. But it’s her husband, producer and former “Daily Show” screenwriter Rich Blomquist, who is being drafted by their child for many lead roles.

“He’s got a great range,” Schaal says, noting that her husband is hesitant to perform even in his stand-up shows. “He’s requested by her to play a myriad of characters,” from a freshly made-up, lava-eating villain named Samuel to numerous “Thomas & Friends” train characters.

Even before becoming a parent, Schaal relished the inspiration of family. For “Bob’s Burgers”, when she began voicing Louise, she grounded the character by studying her then 9-year-old nephew. “I already have a childlike sensibility,” she says, but she enjoys observing real life “to make sure that’s the base – she’s still a child.”

The original voice of Bugs Bunny was his idol. Now he’s playing the character in the “Space Jam” sequel.

As a vocal artist, Schaal is valued for both her gifts and her creative camaraderie.

“If you’re so lucky to take an actress like her and attach that voice to a character, you’ve got an absolutely huge engine pulling everything together,” Bouchard says. “It will make jokes. You will write to this voice. It will drive the image. You will animate what you hear in his performance.

Bob-Waksberg says her delivery is “always half a pivot from the adorable heartbreaking thing or the craziest thing you’ve ever heard in your life. Her voice is like a ray of sunshine – which can be rewarding and vital on some days, and on others blinding, intense and devastating.

Moreover, he notes, “I think people keep hiring her because, on a personal level, it’s a pleasure to be around her.”

This authenticity feeds his vocal art. “Kristen’s personality shines through in her performances, creating not just fun reads, but a real character that comes from an honest place,” says Pixar director Cooley. “It’s a talent that few actors can portray with just their voice.”


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