Ding Tut sleeping on pile of papersI was thinking about the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” today as one of my cats climbed up on a pile of empty cardboard boxes that were piled high on a work table to see what was going on and everything came down in a huge, yet rather quiet crash – except for the startled yelp of the cat as he was propelled into the air.

Most of us know what curiosity killed the cat “means.” Poking around can have dire consequences. But I was curious as to it’s origin, so I did some Googling and found this info on Wikipedia. It started out as “care killed the cat.”

Ben Johnson, an English playwright in 1598 used something like it one of his plays – followed by Shakespeare in 1599. It evolved into the more familiar “curiosity killed the cat in the later half of the 1800’s. O’Henry used it in a short story back in 1909.

This is the short definition from the Know Your Phrase site: “Used as a warning for anyone who is acting excessively curious, as their prying behavior may lead them to harm or even death.”

Then they used it in a sentence and it got me to thinking about what I do as a voice actor. “My boss warned me that curiosity killed the cat after I kept pestering him to tell me why he fired his last employee.”

Does this little adage apply to what I do? Not at all frankly.

Much of my day is spent auditioning for possible work. I spend some time doing actual work. A lot of time is spent finding opportunities to work – or opportunities to audition for work. And time is spent in billing and counting the stacks of money that arrive at my door. OK, not a lot of time is spent doing that last thing.

But my point is that I have to be curious. I need to be up on the latest trends in voice styles and deliveries. Not that I am trying to copy someone’s sound, but if I hear something truly aurally delicious I listen and analyze what they are doing with the words, the syllables, the pauses, the pacing, the attitude, the mic proximity, and on and on.

Each commercial, web video, overhead announcement, or anything where a voice talent has been paid to read a script is worth my time to listen and learn. To learn how to better make that connection between the words on the page and the person listening.

So, my curiosity about what makes something great creates opportunities for me to do a better read the next time I am in the booth – either auditioning for a job, or doing a job. The more I connect with and communicate the meaning of the words, the more opportunity I have to connect with the decision maker and get them to hire me for the job. It helps me produce work that keeps my regular clients coming back with more work.

So, bring on that pile of boxes and let me poke around exploring. There just may be something special buried in there!