fake American dialects (Society Listserv?)

Page Stephens hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Jun 23 15:46:52 UTC 2008


Having written a few radio comedies all I can tell you is that your purpose
is not to get the accents right but to exaggerate them for comic effect.

In other words accuracy is not your first concern.

I am certain that this becomes much more of a concern for writers of Brit
sitcoms such as Last of Summer's Wine which is localized and the characters
are purportedly from a single place.

What I did was to use standard comic speech and stole blindly from such
stock characters as Eccles (The Goon Show) and Mortimer Snerd (Edgar
Bergen's creation) in order to create a perfect idiot.

The point I am making is that you have to deal first of all with your
audience and then with accuracy since most of them wouldn't know the
difference anyway.

Then there are the absolutely phony accents - WC Fields comes to mind -
which are pure inventions - his Micawber in David Copperfield is WC Fields
writ large but it works.

If you want to see Hugh Laurie's talent then watch his Bertie Wooster in
Jeeves and Wooster or the various characters he played in A Bit of Fry and
Laurie or in Black Adder.

Always remember, however, to take the audience into consideration which the
producer and director  have to do and make it accessible to them and if you
have an international audience you have to make it understandable to them.

Today I am able to listen to a Goon Show which starred Peter Sellers, Spike
Milligan and Harry Secombe, but when I first heard one I didn't have any
idea what the hell they were saying in their various phony accents.

My point is very simple: when you are analyzing any accent you hear on TV,
radio or in the movies you have to take into account the audience to which
it is directed since that is the third participant in the equation.

Page Stephens

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Donnell" <daviddonnell at NYC.RR.COM>
Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2008 9:57 AM
Subject: [ADS-L] fake American dialects (Society Listserv?)

> Was listening to Brit actor Hugh Laurie in his lead role on the TV
> series "House"... Was wondering if his fake American accent is as
> solid as it seems, or if it's just that his voice is compelling; I
> don't pick up anything regional when he speaks, as I often do with my
> fellow Americans, no sense of place to it.
> Also, South African Charlize Theron seems quite good at her assumed
> American accent, although there's something I can't put my finger on
> that bugs me about it. (Not that I've spent tons of time listening to
> her.) In any case, unlike the "House" guy, Theron's U.S. dialect
> isn't just for a role, she apparently uses it in real life...
> stateside at least.
> Thoughts?
> Any other favorite fake U.S. accents? (Whether competent or
> entertaining; Monty Python used to crack me up with their screwy
> American accents.)
> David
> Missourian @ NYC
> ___________________________________________________
> Wikipedia on Hugh Laurie's American accent:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Laurie
> For his portrayal, Laurie assumes an American accent.[1] Laurie was
> in Namibia filming Flight of the Phoenix and recorded the audition
> tape for the show in the bathroom of the hotel, the only place he
> could get enough light.[8] His US accent was so convincing that
> executive producer Bryan Singer, who was unaware at the time that
> Laurie is English, pointed to him as an example of just the kind of
> compelling American actor he had been looking for. Laurie also adopts
> the voice between takes on the set of House, as well as during script
> read-throughs.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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