10 Questions with Harry Shearer,
Springfield’s Finest

by Gregory Singer and Heather Kenyon

Harry Shearer.

Harry Shearer is one of the most multi-faceted performers at work in voice acting today. A writer, producer, director and actor on the stage and radio and in television and film, Harry still finds time to voice our Simpsons favorites and host a weekly syndicated radio show, LeShow, which is in its sixteenth year on public airwaves.

Harry Shearer’s award-winning career began early; at age seven he had his acting debut in the film classic Abbott and Costello Go To Mars. He then took to live TV upon its introduction. As one of the creators and stars of This Is Spinal Tap, a mock rockumentary that is now notorious, Harry gained national recognition. He was also a writer and cast member on Saturday Night Live for two seasons. Harry isn’t all about laughs though. His performance as a NASA recruitment official in The Right Stuff shows his more serious side. He has also appeared in Dick, Ed TV, Godzilla, My Best Friend’s Wedding, The Truman Show, The Fisher King and Wayne's World II, among others.

His television work includes Just Shoot Me, Chicago Hope, Ellen, Friends, Politically Incorrect, Martin Mull's Portrait of a White Marriage, Comedy Hour Live: The Magic of Live, Murphy Brown and LA Law to name just a few. While he creates theatrical productions, records CDs and writes books, we know and love him best as Montgomery Burns, Ned Flanders, Smithers, Principal Skinner and many of Springfield’s other regulars.

See? We told you he was multi-faceted, multi-talented and very busy. Here’s a peek into his mind…

AWN: If you had to pick a theme song for your life, what would it be?

Harry Shearer: I don't even have a theme song for my radio show.

AWN: What was your great encouragement for doing voice over for animation?

HS: Repeated, irritating persuasion by Matt Groening and Sam Simon, refusing my repeated statements that, "It sounds like a hassle."

AWN: Do you do any exercises for your voice?

HS: Yes, my wife, who grew up around the opera, taught me some great exercises that increase the strength and durability of the ol' instrument.

AWN: There are many facets to your professional work; why do you include animation in the mix?

HS: Because it fits into my life, as opposed to a live-action sitcom, which would take over my life.

AWN: Our general manager, Annick Teninge, listens to your radio show every Sunday morning. As a French native, she wants to know: what do you have against French people?

HS: I have nothing against French people. Don't get me started about Canadians, though.

AWN: What do you think about mimes?

HS: The loowest form of begging.

AWN: Someone once suggested that, "Saturday Night Live never was what it used to be." What were those early days like?

HS: To borrow a Paul Shafferism, they were like being in Hell's waiting room.

AWN: What is your wellspring of humor?

HS: Anger.

AWN: Where would you place yourself in "The History of White People in America?"

HS: Director.

AWN: You've been successful in many mediums and for many years…you are a writer, a comedian, a voice actor, a radio do you define yourself?

HS: A point guard trapped in a rabbi's body.

Gregory Singer is working toward an M.F.A. in Producing at Chapman University, in Orange, California. He is also the assistant editor of the Animation Journal, a peer-reviewed scholarly publication devoted to animation history and theory.

Heather Kenyon is editor in chief of Animation World Magazine.

Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to

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