John DiMaggio is known for voicing Jake the Dog in Adventure Time, Bender in Futurama, and many other voice-acting roles. Now he's lending his voice to one of the latest Audible original series. Vroom, Vroom, produced by Audible and Studio71, is a scripted comedy written by award-winning playwright and screenwriter Josh Koenigsberg (High Fidelity, Orange is the New Black). In it, DiMaggio stars opposite Andy Richter (Conan), Yvette Nicole Brown (Community), Rick Gonzalez (Arrow), Lucy DeVito (Deadbeat), Mic Daily (Accepted) and Azhar Khan (Mr. Robot). DiMaggio plays Wild Ron, a used car salesman in upstate New York trying to put the rival Ford dealership out of business. Vroom, Vroom debuts on Audible today.
To start, how have you been keeping yourself safe and sane during this pandemic?
John DiMaggio: It's funny because there's been work here and there for some of us, a lot of voice actors, being able to work from home. Also, there's new protocols in place, and so some studios are open and are really fitting actors in one at a time and going way above and beyond any sort of precedent that's been set by law. So everything has been smooth sailing and I'm really surprised. But then I'm not surprised, because there's a lot of people in this business that really give a damn and know how to handle some stuff when it comes up and if it's unprecedented, they react accordingly. So it's been okay, surprisingly.
Your new Audible project is Vroom, Vroom, which is about a car dealership in upstate New York. What you can tell me about the show and your role in it?
I'm kind of the bad guy. I'm Wild Ron and I'm kind of a faker, but I'm a faker in the best way, in that he comes around in the end, kind of. But he's a big faker and a used car salesman in a beautiful used car salesman sort of way. And so it was really a lot of fun. We kind of threw some ideas around and came up with what we wanted the character to be. I mean, at least I threw some voices out and then they went, "Yep, that's the one. That's it. That's it, let's roll with that." So it was a lot of fun coming up with it and doing it. It's really fun doing these Audible gigs, they're really a trip. A lot of people enjoy these tremendously, so it's always fun to do them.
A car dealership sounds, to me, more like the setting of a stress dream than a comedy. What kind of comedy are we dealing with? Is it a workplace comedy kind of vibe?
Yeah, It's a workplace comedy, but you're looking for the guy that just doesn't have it. And he's trying his damnedest. The underdog, it's an underdog story. It's all that. And plus, nobody thought an office in Scranton would be funny, but hello. Comedy is so much more than just a place. It's much more than that.
I'm not sure how long ago you recorded for this but was it a situation where you were able to get the actors together in the studio?
Actually, we did. I recorded this before COVID, pre-COVID, and so we had a bunch of people in the room. And that's really a lot of fun when you have an ensemble record when everybody's there, which is kind of fun because now, you have these sessions where you do it in Zoom, and so everybody's there. Even though it's virtual, there's still instincts you can run with. But yeah, everybody was in the room and it was really great. You get to bounce ideas off of each other when that happens, and that's when some magic improv stuff happens too.
I've covered a couple of Audible projects, including The Sandman a couple of weeks ago, and it seems like Audible really emphasizes trying to get the actors all in the room together. In your experience, does it feel like that has a significant effect on the quality of the recording and the production?
Yeah, it does. In my experience, a lot of the magic happens when everybody's in the room. But the cool thing is that if you're involved in a show, for example, Futurama, we recorded that show as an ensemble and all together. But there were times when due to scheduling conflicts, some of us couldn't be there. But what was great was that you always felt everybody's presence that wasn't there. You always had a feeling of what they would do and how they would deliver the line.
Listen, acting is reacting. It's one of the basic things you learn when you first start acting. So just having something to react to is great, it's fantastic. So those records are usually the best. But sometimes people can't be there together, so you got to record by yourself. But at the same time, you know what they did, and they also had that stuff recorded most of the time, so if you want to hear what you're talking to, you can find that out, so all right.
When you're doing something like this where you don't have the animation to carry some of the characterizations, how does it affect the way that you play that character? Do you have to go bigger to get everything across?
No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. It just naturally occurs. But what happens really is that there's just a shift in the person that's consuming the product. It's animation without the animation. It's a story being told. It's natural. I mean, stories being told goes back to the dawn of time, just hearing a story being told. I think it's very primitive in our minds. It's something that's part of our DNA. So I think it doesn't have anything to do with the performance. The performance is pretty much the same. Because of the story, of the direction, it's a lot less broad, but it's pretty much doing the same stuff, doing the same work. You're bringing it to life with sound. I think it's up to the listener to decide what you're asking me about. I think it's up to them. How do they approach it? How do they listen to it? Why are they listening? It's just that thing in storytelling.
If you were approaching someone who'd never listened to something like this before, and audio drama or audio comedy, do you have a way that you'd describe it or pitch it to them?
Listen, man, I just say, "Remember, back in the golden age of radio?" The people talk about how people would gather around their radios in the living room. I mean, it's the same thing. It's just the story being told and it's wonderful to hear it come to life with the different voices of the story. I just tell them to sit down, and shut up, and listen.
If you don't mind talking about some of your other work, we know Disenchantment is set for another season on Netflix. Can you offer any update on where you guys are with that? Are you in production at this point?
I don't honestly know what I'm exactly allowed to talk about as far as Disenchantment, but you are right. It is coming back. There's a bunch of episodes and we're cooking along. We're in production right now. So I've been to the studio to record. And I've also been at home and recorded stuff, so we've done both. But yeah, we're cooking along. And I don't have a date for you. But believe me, on social media, everybody will be the first to hear when we find out, you know what I mean?
Adventure Time is running these Distant Lands specials for HBO Max. Can you talk at all about your involvement with that and potential future Adventure Time stories?
I mean, I did Jake for the stuff that's on HBO Max, if that's what you're asking. But beyond this stuff that's happened for HBO Max, I don't know what else they're going to do. I mean, listen, the Land of Ooo has many, many, many, many stories to be told, so who knows what they want to do. But as of right now, yeah, we're just hanging out in limbo and that's okay.
Lastly, any Futurama in your future, be it a podcast, a script read, anything else? Or are you all done with that for now.
I don't know. I mean, listen, if you build it, they'll come. That's all I'm saying about that. I don't know. I wish we could do another podcast sort of thing that we did with Chris Hardwick for the video game app, which was a lot of fun, which was great. My man Maurice LaMarche was fantastic, he was great. He did some really fun work as the Borax Kid doing all of the radio ads, all of this stuff, "Hello there, it's Borax Kid. Let me tell you about so and so, and blah, blah, blah." And coming back to this, this is what this is all about. These stories are great and they're fun to listen to, and people love to be told a story and that's what's great about Audible and about this project, Vroom, Vroom.0comments
Vroom, Vroom is available now on Audible.