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LOS ANGELES TIMES
A Voice For All Seasons
Friday, December 26, 1997 | By Monte Morin, Staff Writer
From 'Seinfeld' promos to Must See TV voice-overs, Steve Mackall is one of a small group of Hollywood artists who have achieved a faceless fame. It's totally weird watching a grown man do an impersonation of a "happy flea" - which might explain why folks never actually see Steve Mackall on television or in the movies.
Mackall - whose bubbly flea amounts to an explosion of high-pitched giggles, hiccups and squeals - belongs to that small_ but noisy group of voice-over artists who supply the audio backdrop for most of contemporary TV life, especially during commerical breaks and Saturday mornings. Whether it's a matter of talking up Fuji Film and Fruit Loops, building suspense for the next episode of "Seinfeld" or impersonating a talking dog or paranoid weasel, Mackall has a voice for all occasions.
"It's so much fun," Mackall said. "The greatest thing is you can just show up and do three or four voices for a cartoon. They don't care that you're bald, that your sweater doesn't fit. They just don't care."
The 37-year-old Brentwood resident is probably best known as the voice of NBC Must See TV on Thursday nights. It's his job to punch up and preview that night's comedy lineup. But he has alsom made an impression on Los Angeles residents as the voice of "Randolph Beaver," who in the early '90s plugged Fibar Snack Bars and insisted that he wasn't so much a fat beaver as a fluffy one.
Within the indusry, though, the Cleveland native is known as the guy who can do the impossible - improvise voices at a moment's notice for inanimate objects, animals or gleeful fleas.
Mackall said his childhood provided him with the best training. "All of my friends were funny and we all did voices and we were all nuts," he said. "People ask me now, 'How do you make a living in Hollywood?' I tell them I do it by doing the same stuff I got sent away from the dinner table for doing."
Though he said he had wanted to be an actor as a child, Mackall became a copywriter in Los Angeles in the late '80s, when he won a trip to the city after winning a stand-up comic contest in Washington D.C.
Mackall said he fell into the voice-over business eight years ago, when he was clowning at his boss's Christmas party and was overheard by an agent. From there he went on to do voice-over ad campaigns for Nissan, Energizer batteries, Jeep-Eagle, Del Taco, Best Western, Delta Airlines and others.
Mackall said he was very pleased to find the lucrative voice work, particularly because he had arrived in Los Angeles with only $60. He said that when he was down to $40, his wallet disappeared in the Santa Monica apartment he was staying in. "It was so bad that when I was looking at the want ads at the Santa Monica Library, I had to circle around looking for a meter with time on it," Mackall said.
In addition to his voice-over work, Mackall also writes and produces, and has also done comedy writing. Mackall said he hasn't given up on acting, though, and recently performed in a series of one-man shows to benefit the group Athletes and Entertainers for Kids. The show, "Wherever I Go, There We Are," consists of vignettes of episodes in Mackell's life as well as fictional performances.
Despite his success and the prevalence of his voice on advertisements and in such cartoons as "The Mighty Ducks," "All Dogs Go To Heaven" and "The Pink Panther," there is one drawback that some career voice-over artists experience. Namely, people don't believe you when you tell them what it is that you do.
One time, when Mackall and wife, Kris, were rafting in Hawaii, another couple who were with them eventually asked Mackall what he did for a living and decided Mackall was joking when he told them. Mackall said he tried to convince them by slipping into some character voices.
"The guy says, 'Hey, you know, that's pretty good, Maybe you should try auditioning somewhere with that.– Mackall recalled. "He just refused to believe me."
CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER
Parma Native has A Voice to Remember
Tuesday, July 10th 2001 | by Tom Feran
Steve Mackall's nephew was with a friend when one of Mackall's commercials for Northfield Park came on the radio.
"Per-r-fecta!" Mackall said in the familiar spot, in a piercing tone that's at once energetic, knowing, insinuating and almost tauntingly teasing. "That's my uncle," the nephew said. "The annoying guy," the friend replied.
Mackall laughs about it. He's probably been called worse, but he's definitely been called better. At 41, the Parma native belongs to the exclusive club of Hollywood performers who are seldom seen, much sought and often heard.
For three years, he was the guy on NBC saying, "Up next, a brand-new Seinfeld!" He's the voice ofthe WB's Sunday night comedy lineup, of the Fox Kids Network, and of products and companies from Comp USA to Fruit Loops. He's on cartoons such as "All Dogs Go to Heaven" and "The Mighty Ducks," and he's valued as an artist who can improvise voices for anything from animals to inanimate objects.
He has an Emmy for acting and a Clio for advertising. Those Northfield spots, created by Academy Communications of Cleveland, won five national awards.
Now his voice has led to his first feature film, as a screenwriter. Credit the lucky breaks that were, as they usually are, the residue of hard work and persistence.
Home from Los Angeles for a family gathering last week, he said his early training came from funny friends and life in a family of four kids. His father worked as a Cleveland homicide detective and bricklayer for J&L Steel.
Early on, Mackall thought about acting. After graduating from Padua Franciscan High School and Ohio Univerity, he was selling newpaper ad space in Washington D.C. , and trying to break into stand-up comedy when he got his first break winning an HBO comedy competition in 1986.
First prize was a trip to Los Angeles. Mackall wound up backstage at the first "Comic Relief' show. "It dawned on me that everything I want to do is here," he said. "John Candy and Dick Gregory said, 'Just come out.' I said I don't have a place to stay. 'Just come out.' I'm grateful to this day to them."
He returned to Washington, quit his job and drove back. "By the time I got to L.A.," he said, "I had 60 bucks and lived on a friend's couch. When I was down to 40 bucks, I went to Venice Beach to swim and lost my wallet. So I've got no money and no job."
He got a job, selling ads for LA WEEKLY, and worked the comedy circuit at night. After his act brought him a job writing copy for an ad agency, he started calling Chuck Blore, the radio voice legend who helped launch former Clevelanders such as Jack Riley and Ernie "Ghoulardi" Anderson. Blore hired him as a writer and eased him into voice-overs. The exposure and Mackall's writing led to a job on "Guys Next Door," an NBC Saturday-morning sitcom, bringing more voice work, other shows and the gig announcing NBC's "Must See" comedies. "I was the comic who introduced the comedians who have their own shows," he said. "But it allowed me to write what I wanted to write."
He created "The Blanket Show," a cartoon optioned by Fox that features Randy Travis, Forrest Whitaker and David Hyde Pierce, and "tries to do for preschoolers and bedtime what 'Sesame Street' did for learning." And he wrote and performed "Wherever 1 Go, There We Are," a one-man storytelling show that won him acclaim as "a hip Garrison Keillor meeting a gentile Billy Crystal." Still performed at benefits, especially for kids' causes, it became another break when it was seen twice by Will Aldis, the screenwriter married to Cleveland-bred actress Miriam Flynn. Aldis suggested they collaborate.
Their first movie, a mob comedy called "Avenging Angelo," just finished shooting in Toronto and Sicily. To be released sometime next year, it stars Sylvester Stallohe, Madeleine Stowe and Andy Garcia, and features Anthony Quinn in his final role.
Not bad. More films and shows are ahead, helped by the voice work that doesn't keep Mackall long away from his wife, Kris, and their 5-year-old son, Taylor. How annoying is that? "Once I hated my voice on tape," he said. "Now I get a kick out of it."
SANTA MONICA SUN
Wherever I Go There We Are
Coastal Community Newspapers, July 1998 By David Beebe
"Some are true. Some are not to be believed. Some are both," So says the program that you receive as you are guided to your seat at the small and intimte Santa Monica Playhouse. What the opening line is referring to is Steve Mackall's one man performance of 'Wherever I Go, There We Are', a self written performance and hybrid act of stand up comedy and nine emotional sound designed stories that are performed on the stage of an old attic, each with its own set of rear projected slides and choreographed music that will have your feet dancing.
You will become fully involved with each story, making you feel like you are right there witnessing each one. You will travel back to 1978 and find yourself in a parking lot outside a tavern, and witness first hand a dramatic heartbreaking story about Steve and his friends, then right when your emotions start taking over, Steve will throw you into unstoppable laughter when he tells you about his experience at the DMV. Expect this emotional roller coaster ride throughout the whole show. Each story will touch you in some way, each one will make you think, but remember, some are true, some are not, and some are both.
Mackall, an award winning comedian/actor/writer/producer and voice over artist, recently performed two sold out benefit preview performances, each with its own pair of standing ovations. He already holds a Clio, Emmy, and International Broadcasting Award to his name, and with such talent, he will no doubt add several more.
The entire show, complete with one intermission, is animated, comical, passionate, heartwarming and heartbreaking. The entire experience is one that should not be missed. The whole idea of combining story acts with comedy routines, music and slides may sound silly, but it works.
'Wherever I Go, There We Are' is currently running through August 23rd at the Santa Monica Playhouse. The Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 for all seats, with discounts available for students, teachers, seniors and groups of 16 or more. Reservations are required. Pre show, intermission, and post show refreshments are offered at the Box Office Cafe, the newest addition to the Playhouse Theatre. The Santa Monica Playhouse is located at 1211 4th Street in Santa Monica. Call (310) 3949779, extension 1 for reservations and information.
"Wherever I Go, There We Are" ...Nine times the fun.
Theater Review by Joseph Sirota
Here's a warmly personal, creative one-man, multi-media show centering on a visit to a unique attic that they should never clean up. Steve Mackall, television voice-over artist, steps out from behind the scenes to engross us with nine short stories presented with a combination of slides, music, sounds, and Steve's intriguing, highly punctuated narration. This presentation of the versatile, unconventional Santa Monica Playhouse, is an unusual blend of stand-up comedy, off-the wall zanyness and truly touching personal memories.
Mackall's stories, span a wide and wondrous arc. From the fatal flight of deeply-admired Will Rogers and Wiley Post, and a poem it inspired in Mackall, to a surreal Twilight-Zone-esque tale of skipping work as a teenage gardener along with an aging Hollywood actor who misses his heydays and wife enough to "skate" all the way home to them, Mackall treats each tale with loving care. This is especially true in his stories of youthful life-shaping experiences, ... his own, his friends, and even of people he just once read about. Mackall confides in us, "Some are true. Some are not to be believed." The evening is fascinating and captivating. It's not surprising Mackall is a master story-teller, voice-wise, given his voice-over success, but he proves, that he's even more gifted "in-the-flesh" (no,...not nude, just in-person).
With Mackall writing, performing, and wife, Kris directing, and Bob Dussault producing, this is a small, close-knit, family-like effort. But the SM Playhouse's Co-Artistic Directors, Chris DeCarlo and Evelyn Rudie, and their Playhouse team deserve credit for their ongoing risk-taking, making possible a wide range of live theater for audiences of all tastes and ages, for as long as I can remember. The current "Wherever I Go...", a short, limited engagement offering, is one worth the effort to not let slip by.
—Wherever I Go, There We Are @ Santa Monica Playhouse, 1211 4th St., Santa Monica Fri/Sat @ 8PM & Sun @ 6:30PM thru Augsust 23rd. For Info: (310) 394-9779 Ext. 1
THE LAF SUPPER AUDIENCE REVIEWS
The LAF Supper: Oh man…what a ride! An Everyman story.
The journey of trying to live / work in "the wheelhouse of your authenticity" amidst a world that can't even understand that A TITLE IS NOT A MOTTO and that when cats fly, thinking their color is the problem, is OFF POINT…
Thank you, thanks, thanks, thanks, Steve Mackall for that spiritual journey housed in a gloriously sardonic, ironic world of word play, music and alienation.
I love every single thing about this beautiful, riveting, magnetic word-fest. It's so detailed and crafted, but plays like freewheeling stream of consciousness. “You work for Cunard!”
So much to rave about in the writing, but one thing is just the basic plot point of “Guy” realizing he could market the church, and so ends up in a monastery, where he finally does feel seen and heard…where his authentic self ultimately is appreciated…but even THEY won't hire him: Vatican't!
Cowboy Song For Jesus, The Menstrual Show…it practically writes itself except it didn't…Steve Mackall did and it's brilliant.
I reveled in how masterfully he held the space…
The joy of experiencing someone at the top of his craft…to be swept up in it, in the swirl of belly laughs in the room, and in the ultimate poignant whimsy of the show.
“People are funny. People are funnier than anybody.” Steve Mackall is funnier than everybody!
I try to resist superlatives, but they're apt here. There was so much heart and happiness in that theatre…I watched the audience a lot…just to be so united in glee, and in recognizing ourselves on stage, through such extraordinary artistry and craftsmanship. Je suis Guy.
You da' MAN, Steve Mackall. And all his gorgeous collaborators; what a band!
I honor Steve’s artistry and wit and soul and heart, right down to the eloquent closing thank you's.
The LAF Supper…it needs a long (lucrative) run!
Drama Chair Crossroads High School Santa Monica, CA
In "Annie Hall" Woody Allen strung together a number of short scenes or vignettes - many from real life - and made a wonderful and hilarious movie. Steve Mackall has done the same thing with The LAF Supper. The concept - developed out of so much of his real-life experience and incidents - is brilliant.
Given publicity, I see no reason why this play could not thrive off-Broadway!
There were so many one-liners that made me laugh out loud with gusto. Brilliant! Actually, that entire show is brilliant. Also brilliant is that "LAF" stands for Love & Faith which is impressively clever in the context of this play. I'm fully aware I'm using the word "brilliant" multiple times. It's intentional and appropriate!
Academy Award winning producer “Scared Straight”
Multi-Emmy Award Winner
The LAF Supper is a masterpiece, in my view. It's clever and unlike anything else out there!
BRAVO …..FANTASTICO ….BRILLIANT …...EFFING FUNNY ….RIGHT ON ……and all the OTHER languages …..that say ''YEAH BABY ''
Multi-Grammy and Academy Award Winning Music Producer
What a fantastic show! Funny. Charming. Touching. Moving. Poignant. Great band! Steve Mackall is a barrel full of joy who generously shares his beautiful heart.
The LAF Supper is an amazing treat! Steve Mackall is so funny and alive and true. I couldn't stop laughing. Genius!
Linda Harris – Los Angeles
What a fabulous night. Steve Mackall is absolutely amazing. I don't think I ever stopped laughing. Pure genius.
Great show! Steve Mackall is funny, fast, talented, and gutsy! What a fun night!
Deborah Eisenberg Fried
Steve Mackall’s TALENT, COMMITMENT, SENSE OF INTEGRITY AND SENSE OF HUMOR…were all on display Saturday night at The LAF Supper! What a great performance!!!
He is a unique and wise storyteller, and had the audience listening to every word. Thank you Steve Mackall for the stories (of which I could relate to more than I would admit to), the songs and for making us LAF!!
Partner DPN Talent
Los Angeles, CA
An incredibly funny and insightful one-man show! The LAF Supper is a hit. We want to come back with friends
What a great time!
What a terrific show!
Funny... heartfelt... Insightful.... FUNNY!
I loved that I cared about the main character, not only throughout the show but at the end. It was so "satisfying".
Steve Mackall is genuine!