Deadpan voice over: why you need to know about it

whatevs …

Big fan of stats right here. I like to know who is visiting my site and what they are looking for. I want to know if my content is what they are after. I love website analytics (nerd alert)—especially data around the search terms that bring people to my site.

That was until a ‘deadpan voice over’ search landed right here on this little patch of the www.


Google—what are you trying to say? Are you using analytics to subtly tell me something about my VO MO?

On further investigation, the search was actually ‘deadpan voice over trend‘ which hooked the searcher up with one of my more popular posts—Top 5 voice over trends for 2016. So we’re cool Google. We’re cool.

But it got me thinking, what is this deadpan voice over trend and is it something I want to perfect? I have always thought of deadpan as a negative in acting and voice over. I attribute it more to a comedic style—in particular, a way of delivering jokes with minimal expression (both vocally and physically).

Aussie comedy great—The Sandman—is a prime example of deadpan delivery:

And supports this train of thought:



1. marked by or accomplished with a careful pretense of seriousness or calm detachment; impassive or expressionless: deadpan humor.

2. displaying no emotional or personal involvement: a deadpan style.


Steven Wright’s radio announcer character in Reservoir Dogs also springs to mind as a deadpan delivery:


So how does this style fit in the current voice over landscape of ‘conversational’, ‘real’, ‘authentic’; even the high energy ‘announcer’ style?

Why, when voice actors strive to bring the right emotion to a script, would we remove all expression and emotion?

I chucked in ‘deadpan’ as a keyword on a few voice over casting sites. One site gave me 1351 results. Another resulted in 2. To give some context, I whacked in ‘conversational’ and got results of 13589 and 194 on the same sites, respectively. So I wouldn’t tout deadpan as the next big thing just yet. But voice over talent do have this style in their repertoire and (I assume) producers seek it out.

Where would it work is my big question. This style could work well for specific characters, impersonations, comedy and parody. I’m thinking gaming, cartoons and animation voice overs.

In the commercial realm I’m not so sure—scripts with an indifferent or sarcastic flavour possibly. Maybe impersonations. I don’t think we will ever see it become the commercial voice over style of choice.

I recall a series of television and radio superannuation ads, delivered in a somewhat Sandman style (and ridiculed for it). It’s important to note the talent was a Subject Matter Expert / spokesperson—not a voice actor.


So to whomever was looking for intel on the deadpan voice over trend, thanks for bringing it to my attention. I’m hoping an opportunity to give it go comes up. Hopefully you’ll pop back and this post offers a few additional thoughts.

I’m also interested in hearing some real life commercial examples—if you have any, whack the links in the comments section below.


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