Thursday, March 24, 2011

Should be easy as duck soup

I could be a contender.

For years I've been entertaining friends and relatives (well, entertaining myself, at least) with my talent as a duck-talker. And now, thanks to Gilbert Gottfried, I may have a chance to take my quackery to the big time.

As you probably know, Gottfried used to be the voice of the Aflac duck. It was a sweet gig, requiring only that he quack out an occasional "Aflac!" in his annoyingly grating voice, when the script called for it. No great skill required, so the job was a perfect fit for Gottfried.

Unfortunately, he couldn't be satisfied with that. When Japan got hit by a horrific earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands of people and caused a still-unfolding nuclear disaster, Gottfried was moved to comedy. He decided to share his insights on the disaster by posting jokes on Twitter.

One of the milder ones: "Japan called me. They said, 'maybe these jokes are a hit in the US, but over here they're all sinking."

They weren't that much of a hit in the U.S., either -- although some other comedians defended his right to push the envelope of good taste. In the face of general outrage, Gottfried deleted his tweets and apologized for his lack of timing and sensitivity.

However, that wasn't enough to save his job as spokesduck for Aflac, which does a lot of business in Japan. And on March 14, they fired him.

Aflac began running its commercials again this week with a silent-film version of its mascot. That's just a stopgap measure though. With a job posting and a new website, the company has launched a nationwide search for a six-figure-a-year quackster.

"Show us how you can communicate an entire vocabulary in one word: Aflac," the website says. The company is looking for someone with a "collaborative spirit, especially when it comes to working with ducks."

Me, me, me, meeeee!

I'm not a natural-born talent as a quacker. In fact, I discovered my gift late in life during a vacation stay in the White Mountains of Arizona. The cabin where we stayed was next to a lake, and there were always ducks on or near the lake.

One of them, a white bird with a crack in his beak, hung around the porch of our cabin begging for pieces of bread. We became very fond of "Cracked Bill," as we called him, and I spent a lot of time practicing duck-talk with him.

Our conversations never touched on Aflac, but I did become fluent in "want some bread, Cracked Bill?" To which he would reply happily, "Quack!"

Unfortunately, my actual duck-talking tends to sound mainly like an angry duck. I need Clarence "Ducky" Nash, the voice of Donald Duck, to teach me how to work words into my duck sounds. Or Mel Blanc, who made Daffy Duck utter the immortal "You're de-e-eshpic-able!"

Fortunately, all I have to do is learn to say "Aflac!" By March 31, when auditions start in several cities around the country.

I'll be ready.


MaryWalkerBaron said...

We're all rooting for you.

Tom Walker said...

Betsy Schauer, a friend of Tom's, had this comment: "I bet you'll be just ducky in your audition. I hope you don't contract any vocal mallardies before then. Oh man, I quack myself up."

Tom Walker said...

And Pat Brandt, another friend, adds: "Didn't realize you had such an extraordinary talent."

It's great to finally be recognized for my quackpot gifts.