In the 1988 film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" there is an entrance--a portal, if you will, that leads from the 'real' world into "Toon Town"...home of every animated character from Bugs Bunny to Bruno the Bear; from Yosemite Sam to Tom and Jerry; from Sylvester and Tweety to...aw, you get the idea. The portal itself is a little dark and spooky but there is a brash, colorful, rainbow-world on the other side. All visitors are welcomed with a loud rendition of "Smile, darn ya, smile!" along with sight gags and the obligatory slapstick attack. Truly a wonderful place to be...even for a little while. I recently had the opportunity to visit and do some recording at Warner Brothers Studios-The Ranch in Burbank, CA. and while my entrance into the studio facility wasn't quite so animated...my mind was still reeling at the chance to be 'there'.
A little background...I am like the millions of other folks around the world who grew up loving Bugs and Tweety and Droopy and Heckle and Jeckle and all those manic characters who got to say what we coudn't say and do what we couldn't do (not and get away with it)! UN-like the other millions, my love for these characters actually made me want to be a part of that world...in the creative sense, of course! I wanted to be a part of creating something (or someone) that would bring a smile or a guffaw to anyone...at any time.
Even though "The Ranch" is a few miles (and a few decades) from the old "Termite Terrace" days in Hollywood animation, the fact that it bore the WB brand made it "Shangri-La" to me. Having seen that logo on thousands of cartoons most of my life gave me a real sense of wonder and history as I drove past the gates. Walking into the studio building in my assignment, I came face to face with "The Mural"--a wall-sized painting of William Hanna, Jack Barbera and George Sidney (the original hierarchy of Hanna-Barbera Productions) surrounded by all the characters they brought to life--Scooby Do, Yogi Bear, the Jetsons, the Flintstones, Tom and Jerry, etc....
Truly a jaw dropping moment...
After re-engaging my face, I began to smile. Not just any smile, but a big, ol' stupid grin...a gatemouthed, Goofy 'Garsh'-type of smile bereft of any professionalism, manners or decorum. Every tooth in my head must have seen daylight...I might have even drooled a bit! Is this how it feels to live a dream? To be a part of history? What an opportunity! What a blessing!
The recording session was icing on the cake-a hilarious workout with some of the sharpest and funniest voice actors I've ever worked with. The "Gee Whiz Factor" was definitely in effect all day.
Everybody should experience that same rush of unbridled joy, priviledge and opportunity that I felt. I pray that those emotions chase you, overtake you and wrap you in a blanket of warmth and goodness.
"A merry heart makes a happy face..." Prov. 15:13