by Tony Ertel
I am hardly an expert on any one topic and I am not in the habit of sharing product reviews, but in today’s consumer-connected web world I suppose I am as qualified as anyone to state my opinions. And if I were to consider myself qualified to critique anything, it would be something humor-related. I once said, “Now isn’t that funny?” to which someone replied, “yep.” What’s that tell ya? To me it’s a badge of confidence and courage as I move forward in the world of humor and share my stories. And so today I want to do a short “product review” for an app to which I was recently introduced by some friends.
About one week ago, as I wiped the sleeps out of my eyes and checked my text messages, I was surprised to see that some friends had sent me a video. While I consider text messages from “old friends” to be treats, I think videos are even more special. And so I pressed the play button and watched.The message itself was nonsensical, but I sure got a good laugh. The comedic element of the video wasn’t a great punch line at the end of a joke that had me on the edge of my seat or the fact that my friends were dressed as huge onions*, but that their voices were ridiculous and a bit unnatural.
My first thought was that they were goofing off after an Up party. It’s legitimate to think that they were following up the Disney/Pixar film by sippin’ on some helium and cutting a few videos as evidence of their good time. I realized however, that not many people actually think of weird themed parties like that and that they had probably figured out another way to get those squeaky voices. It didn’t take long for me to discover the Voice Changer Video Booth smart phone app and to send a video response to my pals back in North Dakota. After some experimenting and a few failures**, I produced a string of Grammy quality shorts of which I was quite proud (while a little embarrassed at the same time).
The Voice Changer Video Booth app allows users to customize videos with a variety of styled voice changers and speed-up and slow-down modes. This one little app accomplished for the average Joe what it had taken me years of practice to perfect. With the simple click of a button, the squeaky squirrel voice to which I had devoted years of study, became accessible to anyone. And beyond that, the unintelligible phone voice from every cartoon or kid’s show ever aired (whose secret I had long sought after), with the correct set of inputs was made available through this new app. In addition, I could choose from such options as the bear (deep voice), the duck and the mouse (squeaky variations of the squirrel), the clown, the crowd, the megaphone, the scuba guy (garbled underwater sound), violin voice (not sure who would ever think of that), the guitar (auto-tune), the robot, and the echo.
So taken by the many possibilities, I didn’t even take a minute to whine about the injustice of such technology changing the playing field for “cool uncle” status***, though I did dedicate a few seconds of footage to that complaint. Really I was just excited for the new toy.
So I want to share a few of my video creations with you, hit your funny bone, and hopefully get those creative juices flowing so that you too might have a little fun with the app. The good thing is that this app doesn’t require users be as ridiculous as me. You can get by with only being semi-silly and the app configurations will do the rest of the work. As I annoyingly wanted to make more videos and incorporate my wife, she asked what she should say. I simply told her to respond to what I said and then to “make funny noises” if she couldn’t think of anything else. Despite my subpar directing, that short clip turned out to be one of our favorites and a sure nominee for best script****. And if you
decide to film your kids, well... they hardly need to be fed any funny lines; it seems to come natural
Another great feature of the app is that you can apply changes to videos which you have recorded regularly. This is nice for those individuals who tend to get really carried away. While it’s funny now, I have to say that it would probably lose some effect if all of your home videos from Carly’s 3rd to 4th birthday featured Bear Carly. That particular combination could also have some pretty bizarre psychological repercussions for Carly as she witnesses a year of her life replayed, but with a strange drag-like male voice. But hey! That’s an extreme. Just use the app moderately and your children will be fine (wow, sorry, I didn’t mean for that to get so weird). And finally, for my last bit of advice I want to let you know that I had some difficulty with videos that were longer in length – I would try to keep them shorter than 30 seconds.
Beyond the fun of making the videos, I’ve gotten many good laughs in watching and re-watching with friends and family. A couple special views brought me to the point of tears. I hope and believe you might find a few of mine funny too, but part of the real treasure of these videos is seeing someone you know ridiculously transformed. So enjoy my little collection which I edited together for my editor’s sake, and then take a shot at some of your own.
**My first video response elicited this reaction from my Bismarckian buddies: Scary! L:’-(.
***I don’t mean this literally. The “cool uncle,” to me, is that guy who is just fun to hang around with – the guy that kids think is so cool.
****You can see this special clip in the middle of the video mix posted here on the page.
*****From the Editor: I could't get the video into the post directly.... And the day is waning, so click the link.