(courtesy of Jerry Trainor / Kids Choice Awards)
Prior to his panel at Comic-Con today, "iCarly" comic actor JERRY TRAINOR tells us he cannot verbally confirm or deny that he will be the voice of Dudley, the lead dog in the new Nickelodeon animated show, "T.U.F.F. Puppy."
Trainor can, however, send Comic Riffs a picture of himself wearing his favorite new canine character. Yes, that is Dudley on his spiffy T.
Trainor, of course, is the lanky, highly physical comic who first impressed Nickelodeon hitmaker Dan Schneider as Crazy Steve on "Drake and Josh." Schneider so appreciated Trainor's manic talents that he eventually gave him a starring role in his current smash show about Seattle teens who host their iCarly website.
When it comes to maximum comic effect, Schneider told Comic Riffs last year that it's great having Trainor in his character arsenal: "Because he's so funny, I can deploy him at any point like a nuclear weapon."
Trainor now brings his rubber gullet and expressive delivery to the newest show from "Fairly OddParents" and "Danny Phantom" creator Butch Hartman.
Comic Riffs caught up with the 30something Trainor to ask him about adapting to animation, the challenges of the sound booth -- and whether "iCarly" castmate Miranda Cosgrove (veteran of "Despicable Me" and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs") has taken to giving him voice-acting tips:
MICHAEL CAVNA: So Butch Hartman, of course, is Nickeodeon's resident Seth Macfarlane. Were you a fan of Butch's work when you signed on for "T.U.F.F. Puppy" -- and what can you tell us about working with him so far? Is he a mad genius, silent mastermind or manic savant in need of Ritalin and a nap?
JERRY TRAINOR: I wasn't aware of Butch before we started working together. "Fairly OddParents" came after my time, although I had heard of it. This probably helped me get the part because I wasn't nervous and we just had a good time cracking jokes in the audition and trying different funny stuff.
Now that I've seen some episodes of "FOP," I realize what kind of mind we're dealing with, and it is SICK! HE NEEDS HELP! No, he's hysterical. In my mind, he carries the torch of the Looney Toons style of very over the top, quick-witted, wild, if you blink you'll miss 10 jokes type of animation. It's never boring, and always funny to kids and grownups alike.
MC: You told us last year that when auditioning for Crazy Steve, the casting people kept encouraging you to go even "bigger." So just how "big" do you go as a voice actor?
JT: Animation gives new meaning to "Big" It's preposterously huge! Voice acting requires someone like me to project a tone without being able to see the look on my face, which I rely on as an actor. So I find that I spaz out even more in front of the microphone than I do in front of a camera to really punctuate the lines and give the animators something funny to work with.
MC: How far along is this "Puppy" in terms of production?
JT: I believe at this point we've recorded 20 episodes, and we're about to start recording more.
MC: You're such a physical comedian. Like Robin Williams in "Aladdin," say, does your animated role allow you to go yet new places with that inspired comic voice?
JT: [I'm] spazzy to a medical extreme.
MC: Now that Miranda has voiced roles in two recent feature-film animations, does she try to give you voice-acting advice?
JT: She looooves to remind me of how out of touch I am on everything. I don't believe we've ever talked too extensively about the art of voice acting, I'm too busy pretending I know what new pop culture thing she's talking about.
MC: Since you're a native San Diegan, any attachment to Comic-Con remaining in San Diego?
JT: I did grow up in San Diego and I love it there. I only went to Comic-Con once as a kid, as I wasn't a huge collector of stuff, Garbage Pail Kids being one exception -- I still have them. It was much less of a Hollywood animal back then. It was very much a giant comic shop, less glitz. [But] I would be sad if it left San Diego. I believe the Con would lose it's classiness if it left (thanks, Ron Burgundy). Much like Madden is the voice of football, and Rogan is the voice of the UFC, I believe San Diego is the voice of Comic-Con.
Note: The "Hartman's Heroes: The Fairly OddParents and T.U.F.F. Puppy" panel is Saturday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific time in Room 24ABC. Trainor and Hartman will be among the featured speakers.
MORE FROM SAN DIEGO COMIC-CON 2010: