There's a secret to doing the best Droopy impression

Chuck Jones explains the madcap genius of Tex Avery cartoons — and how to do a Droopy impression.

Warner Bros.

About halfway into "Daredevil Droopy," we see Droopy — the white cartoon dog with long black ears and a tuft of orange hair — swinging from a trapeze at a circus. On the other side of the swing's arc is Spike, the villain of the short, and we watch with worry as Spike feeds new trapeze swings into Droopy's open hands.

We're all just waiting for Spike to do something sinister and knock Droopy down from the trapeze.

The moment finally comes after a few swings, when Spike swaps out a trapeze bar with a lit stick of dynamite and prepares to feed it to the unsuspecting Droopy on his next swing back.

Only, Droopy would never fall into such a trap, and he doesn't swing back this time. Spike's eyes bulge as he realizes the dynamite is swinging back to him. He sets the dynamite down and swan-dives off the trapeze stand, only for the trampoline below to hurl him back up, arriving back on the trapeze stand just in time for the explosion.


That's how a Tex Avery cartoon hits you, blasting you into a delightful alternate universe where your expectations are always thrown for a loopedy-loop.

Beyond his Looney Tunes work, Avery's Droopy remains one of his most iconic and best-loved characters. It's even been hinted that Droopy was his favorite character, as Avery personally directed many of Droopy's shorts and he also used the character more than any other.

Animation fans know that Tex Avery is a legend who didn't just create Droopy, but also had a hand in the genesis of Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, and Bugs Bunny.

Avery was a mentor to Chuck Jones, the famed cartoonist and director behind Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies shorts with Bugs, Daffy, and other Avery creations. Jones told Emmy TV Legends what made Avery so influential to up-and-coming animators like him:

"He was unique, and he pursued animation in a way that nobody else did," Jones said, explaining that Avery's cartoon ethos was what made his work stand out: He found more joy in subverting audience expectations than embedding his iconic characters in their minds.

"He wasn't interested in character," Jones said. "There was only one character that he made in the whole time at MGM, that sustains, and that was, of course, little Droopy."

That means that instead of watching a cartoon and waiting to hear a catchphrase, Avery had his viewers themselves bug-eyed at the chaos he created onscreen. A post on Screening the Past said Avery considered a good gag to be a scene in which "a guy would no sooner get hit with an anvil than he takes one step over and falls in a well."

That's exactly the delightful nonsensical action you can see in "Daredevil Droopy" — and in most cherished Avery cartoons. And that's exactly the sort of thinking that Jones and other animators idolized in Avery's work.

In his interview, Jones smiled thinking of Droopy, clearly as a fan.

"I'll tell everybody a secret…" Jones said. "If you want to talk like Droopy, it's very simple." If you watch the video of the interview, you can watch Jones demonstrate, but we're going to narrate his actions to you here:

Lift your hands to your face, pinch your cheeks and pull the corners of your mouth toward your ears. Then repeat this iconic Droopy line in your best monotone voice:

"You know what, I'm the hero of this picture."

"That's how you do it!" Jones said. "Keep your voice flat and level, and you'll become him."

The one thing you can always expect in a Droopy cartoon, though, is that the little dog will emerge undefeated, no matter what contest arises or feats of strength expected. In Tex Avery's world, no harm can befall the long-faced anti-hero, who couldn't ever be bothered, even by the biggest explosions.

"People try to imitate Tex Avery by making everything violent, but every one of his pictures starts out smoothly and evenly," Jones said. "You knew there was going to be an explosion. But you didn't know when."

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justjeff 34 months ago
What a load of BULL!

Droopy's voice was created by the late Bill Thompson, who first popularized it on the radio comedy "Fibber McGee and Molly" as Wallace Wimple, the henpecked little man married to "Sweetieface" ("My big old wife...")!

He used that same voice as Droopy, Mr. Smee in Peter Pan, the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, and as Touche Turtle and other roles before passing away on July 15, 1971.

I've seen Thompson do "Wallace Wimple" in a clip from a Fibber McGee and Molly movie, and he was not pulling back or contorting his face!

His biography:

This episode of "To Tell the Truth" from January 6, 1959 [ironically, 62 years to the day before the Capitol insurrection] shows Thompson as one of the people trying to fool the panel. At 24:52 you'll hear Thompson speak in that fa miliar voice!

I've practiced that voice for quite a while... and the best way I can explain in this forum on how to do it is to slack your jaw and try to speak your words with your mouth forming a "O" shape [no wide facial inflections] while speaking all of your words... It's easier to demonstrate, but even if I could add an audio clip, I don't have the right software to make a clear sound file...

Chuck Jones knew his animation... but he was NO voice actor...
justjeff justjeff 34 months ago
One more thing... Thompson speaks in his real voice a bit further into the "To Tell the Truth" episode, and part of the Wimple/Droopy/Smee, etc. voice was the natural timbre of his voice. Listen carefully, and you can hear it...
Kelley1 42 months ago
One of my favorite cartoon dogs. I love the one where Droopy plays a bandleader and all his band members are fleas. He lives in the dump at the beginning of his rags to riches story. Love the cartoons. Hate the super early hours, Me!
MadMadMadWorld Kelley1 42 months ago
The one favorite I recall was when another dog was harmed from the owner of the house whenever there was a noise, and it could be the slightest noise in the world! If this was a Droopy episode, he made or helped create noises that had the owner beat-up on the other dog just for hearing a noise. I'd like to learn the title of that cartoon, because it was a stand-out on how silly and funny it was!
dodgebob 42 months ago
Droopy Dog looks like Bill Barr.
nightshade 42 months ago
9theres a story that in the late 40s at MGM they pretty much gave Fred Quimby and Tex free reign to do almost whatever they wanted( I think bill and joe had just left the studio ) and one-day Fred went to tex telling him he needed a cartoon for a premiere they whipped one out in 3 days...... it was so fast and so violent that Quimby didn't laugh even once when they previewed it which was unusual when tex asked what was wrong Quimby replied " tex i think you tried too hard .. I didn't understand a damn thing about it So they went back and extended it by a minute in a half and screwy squirrel was born but they didnt take one thing out .......
Hogansucks1 43 months ago
On the same note, it’s like trying/ impersonating Alfred Hitchcock’s voice ? At least in my minds eye! 🧐
Moody 43 months ago
I always get a kick out of the Droopy cartoons. I do a lousy Droopy imitation though.
ncadams27 43 months ago
Bill Thompson was the original voice of Droopy and used the exact same voice for Wallace Wimple on the Fibber McGee & Molly radio program. Sorta like he was sucking on a lemon.
justjeff ncadams27 43 months ago
Exactly! - and he didn't pinch his cheeks either - I can do the Droopy/Wallace Wimple/Touche Turtle/Smee voice. Just let your jaw slack a little and try to talk in a simple monotone through rounded lips (like forming the letter 'O') so you don't use many facial muscles. It's hard to decribe in words, but with practice you can do it!
justjeff justjeff 43 months ago
The trick (of sorts) is to 'puff' out your words as if a little bit of air is caught within your cheeks. Example: The word 'but' sounds a bit more like 'bhut'. 'Perfect' sounds a bit like 'phurfect'... As I've said, it's hard to explain this in written form.
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