Futurama's Original Idea For Randy Was A Matter Of Six Simple Words


The "Futurama" character Randy (John DiMaggio) has appeared in 17 episodes of the series to date and in three of the four movies. Randy is enthused, catty, and seen throughout the series holding down a wide variety of jobs. In one episode, he is the proprietor of a jewelry store (Dr. Zoidberg spits expensive gems at him). In another, he is seen teaching a prenatal swim class (Dr. Zoidberg froths lobster drool on him). In a third, he builds an ark to save Earth's animals during a great deluge (Dr. Zoidberg remains mercifully absent). In the latter scenario, Randy's husband points out that Randy filled the ark with same-sex couples, which he is quite proud of. "There are some parts of the Bible I like," Randy says, "and some parts I don't like."

DiMaggio has been quite outspoken on "Futurama" DVD commentaries about how much he loves Randy. Randy never emerged from the background and hasn't been given any stories of his own, but he is bursting with personality. It's also nice to see an incidentally queer character play a constant role in an animated series like "Futurama." Randy wasn't initially written as queer, but he became increasingly queer throughout his appearances.

Indeed, Randy wasn't written as anything at first. He was merely a background character. It's worth remembering that each cast member of "Futurama" plays dozens of roles, many of them one-off background characters. One can only imagine the creative challenge of voicing such parts. It's easy to do an Orson Welles impersonation. It's much harder to play "pedestrian #8" and make her sound unique.
In a 2013 interview with the AV Club, DiMaggio talked bout the inception of Randy, and the six-word phrase that the character's creators used to describe him: "He's a man in the crowd."

He's a man in the crowd

That was it. Randy was just "some guy." He wasn't meant to be other than a background voice to provide scant exposition and/or comforting walla. John DiMaggio was the one to give the character a little "zing." When asked what his favorite non-leading role on "Futurama" was, DiMaggio replied: 
"[...] I love Randy. [Randy voice] Randy's so wonderful! 'Oh, my God, that's gross!' He's that guy in the crowd. When that first came up, that's all he was. They said, 'We want you to do this part.' I said, 'Okay.' They said, 'He's a man in the crowd.' I said, 'All right.' There's always that one guy who says, 'This is baloney! I throw a red flag on this!' There's always that guy." 

The "that guy" DiMaggio refers to is not necessarily a universal type that everyone might be familiar with; I admit to being baffled. Clearly, DiMaggio was drawing from personal experience. He recalled someone he encountered in a crowd who sounded like Randy. 

Randy was also not originally drawn to look the way he did. The character was redesigned to match DiMaggio's performance. The actor recalled:

"When they drew him — I didn't see the drawing before I did the voice — he was this old guy who looked like he ought to have your standard old-guy voice, but I was like, 'No!' When I did the voice, they were like, 'Oh, this is wonderful!' And they put him in a pink outfit, and they added all these hand motions, and it's just blossomed into this great, ridiculous secondary character who always manages to show up and be just, like, 'Hiiiiiiii!'"

A notable supporting player was born. DiMaggio co-invented the character. I wonder if he gets a cut of Randy-related merch sales.

URL (pronounced Earl)

DiMaggio also admitted to liking URL, the ubiquitous robot cop always seen with his human partner Smitty (Billy West). DiMaggio dug into his lower registers to voice URL (pronounced "Earl"), coming up with his best Barry White impersonation. URL is serious about policework, yet always sounds like he's in seduction mode. Smitty and URL, like Randy, never have stories of their own, providing functionality and personality to "Futurama" more than plot. Smitty and URL are typically brutal cops who are eager to rough up perps with their lightsaber-like billy clubs. The perp is usually the alcoholic criminal robot Bender (also DiMaggio).

"I love URL. [...] URL is a badass dude. [URL voice] 'You're under arrest, baby,'" DiMaggio added.

URL has, to date, appeared in 19 episodes of "Futurama" and in three of the four movies. DiMaggio, meanwhile, has played Bender on almost every single episode of "Futurama," and his work in animation led him to produce and narrate a feature documentary on the subject called "I Know That Voice," released in 2013. Just about every notable working voice actor was interviewed for that film. It may be largely extemporaneous, but it's still a vital watch for anyone who is the least bit interested in the wild, often underappreciated world of voice acting.

DiMaggio will be returning for additional seasons of "Futurama" on Hulu. Perhaps Randy and URL will be granted stories of their own someday.

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