November 2016
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.”
Groucho Marx

The Shelf-Life of a Political Demo
If you’re reading this Newsletter on November 1st, it may be elementary to mention it, but there’s only a week left until the 2016 Presidential elections. And that means two things: a week from today we’ll have a new President, and, if you have a political voiceover demo, the shelf-life for that track will expire, for all intents and purposes.

I mean let’s face it, if we have to hear one more browbeating, mud-slinging, maligning accusation from anyone running for office ever again, it’ll be too soon.

Nevertheless, for the past few months now, I’ve been repeatedly asked whether we recommend producing a political demo by assorted voice talent. To which I generally respond: There are a number of “candidates”, so to speak, who might be ripe for a political voiceover, many of whom live in and around our nation’s capital. (After all, it’s always mud-slinging season in DC.) Certainly, if your convictions are wholly in support of a single party, and you’re looking to beef up your areas of expertise by creating a demo that further defines your greatest vocal assets, you might have a political demo.

But here’s the thing: at SOUND ADVICE, we generally discourage producing political demos for a number of reasons, not the least of which they simply don’t have much of a shelf-life. Once the election is over, your work dries up. Are there producers who create this type of work all the time? Yes, but again, they tend to reside in or around Washington DC, and they are a very small, select group—in fact, calling them a “group” is a bit of an over-statement.

Besides, most talent agents will simply submit your Narrative demo for this sort of voice work. Additionally, your potential client for commercial, industrial, animation, or promo might vehemently oppose your political ideals. You might have just opened a can of worms you didn’t intend, especially after the most volatile political season we’ve ever survived. We sometimes work for clients we might never socialize or agree with on a variety of fronts, and politics might cut a bit too close to the bone for many. So it might be best to leave this element out of the equation entirely and tackle these political voiceovers on a case-by-case basis, and in that way you can stay true to your principles.

Then again, if you have strong personal convictions you hope to lend your voice to, and this style of work suits you well… then by all means, STAND UP and be counted!

You’ve got about one more week to do it before the wind of change blows us all into what’s to come. œ

The Most Selfless, Charitable Spirit
I learned last month one of my favorite people passed away this summer.

I had the privilege to produce Jill Tondu’s voiceover demos about 14 years ago, and we became fast friends in the process. To say she was extraordinary is a ridiculous understatement.

She honestly lived her life to the fullest, and took you along for the ride if you were lucky enough to be invited.

But… before I give you the wrong impression and paint a picture of a saint, I want you to know who Jill really was.

She loved her Jeep, her dogs, the Cubbies, her wonderful family, and Karaoke. Not that she was a great singer, she enjoyed it and encouraged others to do the same. But she didn’t care if she was the best, and she cared even less what you thought of her and her singing, She didn’t care about petty trifles… unless, of course, it mattered to you and she liked you. Then she sorta cared. She cared it mattered to you. And she cared about you.

She could drink like a champ, and wasn’t picky about if they were watered down PBRs, or whether she had to work at 6 in the morning and it was now almost 3. (She’ll “sleep later” was the rationale.) She’d rather spend more time with you, and somehow her work never suffered.

She was as reliable as rain.

She never married, and didn’t have kids—that’s not what defined her.

She was, however, the single most selfless, charitable spirit I’ve ever met.

Jill quite literally had something going every single night of the week, and nearly every commitment was for others.

Or it was just for fun.

If you could combine the two even better, which she managed a bulk of the time.

For instance, she started a Karaoke night at her favorite local watering hole, and turned it into an impromptu charitable event, 3 out of 4 weeks of the month. And they were more fun and successful than any of the “expertly planned” affairs I’d ever attended.

Jill kept it casual.

She started an Improv group that rehearsed out of my house on a weekly basis for about 2 years, and booked the group to raise funds and patronize a friend’s restaurant her brother worked for that needed some help. She packed the place (with what became regulars) for two weekends in a row, never mind how awkward or under-rehearsed the group may have been walking in. It was hilarious, and completely selfless on her part. Jill managed every wacky expectation and flight of panic (from both ensemble and restaurant staff alike) with complete ease and understanding, and made sure every one’s concern was catered to completely.

Everyone got paid, but she got nothing in return except the excitement of it all.

Jill was my go-to whenever I had a client, or friend who needed a job, temporary or long term. She hooked up no less than 6 people I referred to her for work, and I know I’m not alone. She stuck her neck out for every one. She’d vouch for them before they ever earned it, and many times without appreciation.

She didn’t care. That’s not why she did it.

Jill’s exceptionally charitable spirit consistently went under the radar as if she didn’t need acknowledgement at all. She sincerely gave of herself and made a habit out of it because she was kind and thoughtful, and because she could.

Jill wasn’t wealthy. She made decent money, but she didn’t live to work, she worked to live.

And every Thanksgiving, like so many good-hearted folks, she volunteered at a busy soup kitchen. She did this casually without coaxing, or guilt, and she never guilt-shamed any one else—ever. It was simply something she did, like breathing. Half the time, she went alone—It was her personal tradition. She brought it up only after I had been inviting her to my house for Thanksgiving dinner after a couple years. “C’mon over afterwards,” I told her. “It’s an all day thing. Maybe Friday!” she’d tell me.

She didn’t cook. (I mean who are we talking about here?) But she could drive people in with that death-beater Jeep of hers, and she could dish out dinner with the best of them, and that’s just what she did. But what made her shine was how well she connected with people the world gave up on. And so she earned the nickname “Jilly Star”, which she simultaneously embraced and embodied.

Feeling like a slacker yet? Wait, there’s more….

Every year, Jill took it upon herself to enlist a number of local businesses to sponsor a handful of impoverished families. She made sure they had food, the rent was paid, coats, boots and utilities were covered, and, of course, the kids had a Christmas with all the trimmings. She did this all on her own. And she did it… for years.

WHO does that?!

This is one person who schmoozed her way into making things happen for others. She was truly magical. To Jill charity was never something you did to make yourself feel better (which is okay, too), but it was something she did because she could, and whatever the issue needed attention.

She gave endless hours of her time to countless charities. She wasn’t picky. And, if you didn’t feel enough like your life hasn’t added up to much, Jill even started a dog rescue a couple years ago while recuperating from her first big battle with breast cancer, which ultimately took her life.

Jill Tondu was only 48 years young when she passed away.

She left a legacy that had an extraordinary balance of playfulness and true, from-the-heart generosity. She never expected a single thing in return.

She made you want to be a better person, without even a hint of browbeating. She never made you feel bad. She answered to her own integrity and acted on it, pure and simple.

She was simultaneously interested in everyone in the room, while being the most interesting person in the room. How many people can you say that about?

Selfishly, I want my friend back.

I want her here… with us… to laugh and hang out till our lips and teeth are embarrassingly red from too much wine, and we’re hoarse from singing and talking too much.

I want her here… where she can continue to do the most good, right?

I’ll miss my friend for the rest of my life. There will never be anyone like her.

To quote one Memorial online about her: “Jill loved and talked to everyone, and tried to help as many people and animals as she could. Her kind soul and bright spirit will be greatly missed. Memorial donations can be made to Be Fido’s Friend.”

You’re deep in my heart, Jilly Star. I’m so thankful to have had you as a friend! œ

jill-tondu-nigel

Found this on Jill’s Facebook page, with the caption, “this reminded me of you {you know who you are}”. Well said. œ

Thank Goodness
Maybe it’s due to the nip in the air, or the fact that my favorite holiday is upon us once more: Thanksgiving. It makes us all stop and appreciate family, food, warmth, color, and memories of those that have touched our lives over the past year that add so much to making life worthwhile.

You’re what I’m thankful for. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying it again… thank you. Sincerely. I’m so blessed you chose to subscribe to this humble scribble of mine, to our service, and such. We wish you and yours… peace and plenty of it.

Kate McClanaghan, Inc. © 2016. All Rights Reserved.