By Stephanie Ciccarelli
May 12, 2008
In April, Dilbert and his fellow comic strip buddies hit the animated scene on the official Dilbert.com website, enjoying coverage from Reuters and now an exclusive interview with Dan Roberts, the voice of Dilbert, at Voices.com.
VOX: Did you know you were auditioning for roles on Dilbert from the beginning?
DAN ROBERTS: Yes. The interesting thing is, the producers at Ring Tales contacted me directly. Normally at www.voices.com, I would follow-up on a job lead that was posted. There are thousands and thousands of voices online. I'm so lucky that they found me! After that, it was up to me to win them over.
VOX: Were you a fan of Dilbert before getting this job?
DAN: Well, I'm certainly his #1 fan now! I was familiar with the strip. I own one of the books, and I watched the TV series a bit.
VOX: How does it feel to give voice to an American comic icon?
DAN: Surreal. It is an honor and a privilege! Did I mention terrifying?
VOX: What's it like being Dilbert?
DAN: You spend a lot of time in cubicles. Seriously? I love comic strips, comic books and animation, so this is a dream come true!
VOX: What characteristics did you groom your "Dilbert" voice to have?
DAN: Meek, but not too nerdy. Sarcastic, but not overly aggressive. His voice is pitched only slightly higher than my normal speaking voice. Really, the only difference between him and me is that I have pupils. Oh! And he's smarter.
VOX: Do you do all of the Dilbert / Dilbert's boss recordings from your own studio?
DAN: I'm in Seattle and RingTales (the producers) are in California, so yes. Isn't that great? One of the benefits of the 21st century! I work on a Mac and save each recorded voice as an .aiff file. Then I upload the file to an ftp site. So it's great quality audio!
VOX: The animated shorts are absolutely fantastic. How often do you need to record for this gig?
DAN: We're still in the early stages, but it looks to be one or two times a month.
VOX: Do you know who rounds out the voice cast with you?
DAN: Dogbert is voiced by Marc Pouhe, Alice by Megan Kluck and Wally is done by Jason Williams. None of the other voice actors are from Voices.com, although RingTales does use some other Voices.com talent on their New Yorker Cartoons -- which are nominated for a Webby!
VOX: Are there more opportunities to come from voicing Dilbert animated shorts on the web in the works?
DAN: I hope so! Ring Tales has other animated shorts in the works, and they are nominated for a Webby for their animated New Yorker cartoons! Perhaps they'll find another character that fits me. Michael Fry and Jim Cox, the founders of the company, are also responsible for a little movie called Over the Hedge (with Bruce Willis and Garry Shandling) that did quite well. Maybe they'll throw me a bone if they do a sequel. Heck, I'd bring the actors their coffee! Do raccoons and turtles drink coffee?
VOX: Have you had the chance to communicate with Scott Adams?
DAN: Not in person. But there are encrypted messages to me in each new strip.
VOX: Did he give any specific direction for the characters?
DAN: He had those conversations with the producers. They coach me when I record the voices. I do know that Ring Tales went to bat for me to get the part of the boss. As the story goes: Once cast, for some reason they threw my Dilbert audition Mr. Adams way and he hand-picked me from among the others! That's flattering! I have to tell you I was quite nervous when it came time to send him the auditions. How do you compete with the voices the creator of the strip has heard in his head all these years?
VOX: The online Dilbert fan base is very involved. How have you found their response to the animated shorts so far?
DAN: They are clearly very passionate about Scott and the characters. The response to the shorts seems to be very positive! They're rooting for us.
VOX: What is your favorite Dilbert comic strip?
DAN: Anything with the Boss, Dogbert or Catbert. They make me laugh!