• Hey, It's That Voice! #5: Tom Scharpling

    Hello and welcome back to another exciting installment of "Hey, It's That Voice!" This week, we are looking at the voice of the greatest dad in the universe. How do we know this? Well, he said so himself! Let us take a look at the voice of Greg Universe.

    Greg Universe is a semi-retired rock star, owner of the best (and only) car wash in Beach City, and now a millionaire thanks to a royalty check finally coming in after all these years. A loving father, an honest individual, and an optimist, he is easily a father-figure I believe that we all would like to have. So, who did Rebecca Sugar want to voice the character she based on her own father? Why, Tom Scharpling, of course!

    Who wouldn't want an awesome dad like Greg?

    Tom Scharpling, born February 9, 1969, was raised in Dunellen, New Jersey. A fan of SCTV and Saturday Night Live, Tom started to think about getting into comedy. His career started on the freeform radio station WFMU, based in Jersey City. There, he started hosting a music-oriented program in the mid-1990s, but then started a comedy show at the station, with Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster, called The Best Show on WFMU. Starting on October 10, 2000, the show ran for 576 episodes on the radio station. The show ran weekly until December 17, 2013, when it ended by Scharpling's choice. According to Tom's own website, he did this because "Tom can’t do it for free anymore". But it wasn't because he didn't want to do it anymore, rather "[h]e just needs to get pizzaid (that’s cool lingo for “paid”)". However, Scharpling has since brought the program back in 2014 and continues to do the program, now called The Best Show with Tom Scharpling, on his own website. Over the course of the program's history, guests have included comedians Fred Armisen, Zach Galifianakis, Patton Oswalt, Kristen Schaal, H. Jon Benjamin, and John Oliver, actors Paul Rudd and Jack Black, and musicians Kurt Vile, Aimee Mann, Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie and The Postal Service, and Andrew W.K., and Steven Universe creators Rebecca Sugar and Ian Jones-Quartey. Some of the Scharpling and Wurster's recordings can be found on six albums released by the duo on their label's website.


    Scharpling (left) and Wurster (right). These two can only create wonderful mayhem.

    While working on The Best Show, Scharpling was the very first writer to be hired for the television series Monk. He served as a writer for the show throughout it's entire run, and as executive producer from the fifth season until it's eighth and final season. He has also guest written for other shows, particularly the Tim and Eric-created Adult Swim shows Tom Goes to the Mayor and Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!.

    While it's great to see what Tom has written and helped created, what about voice acting? After all, this article is called "Hey, It's That Voice", so we should talk about acting roles, right? Well, believe it or not, Tom hasn't done a whole lot of acting roles. In fact, his first major acting role was as Willie Nelson (not that Willie Nelson) in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode, "The Shaving". In recent years, he has voiced Jake's brother Jermaine in Adventure Time and guest started with Jon Wurster on The Simpsons' episode "The Marge-ian Chronicles". It's a bit hard to believe he has only done so much acting.

    Willie Nelson in Aqua Teen Hunger Force (top left), Jermaine in Adventure Time (top right), and Scharpling as Paul (left) next to Barry (right, voiced by Wurster) on The Simpsons

    What else could Tom be doing with his free time? Why, being a director! In particular, Tom directs music videos for a number of different artists. With Production Company Production, Tom has directed for musicians such as Ted Leo and the Pharmacists ("Bottled In Cork"), The New Pornographers ("Moves"), Titus Andronicus ("No Future Part Three"), The Ettes ("Excuse"), Wild Flag ("Romance"), The Stepkids ("Legend In My Own Mind"), Real Estate ("Easy" and "Crime"), Ben Gibbard ("Teardrop Windows"), Kurt Vile ("KV Crimes"), Monster Magnet ("Mindless Ones") and, most notably, Aimee Mann ("Charmer" and "Labrador"). The video for "Labrador" earned Tom the award of Video Music Director of 2012 by SPIN and the video of "Labrador" was named by SPIN as  #2 Music Video of the Year (beaten only by "Gangham Style"). The video, which is a satirical shot-for-shot remake of "Voices Carry" by 'Til Tuesday, features a fictional version of Scharpling played by Jon Hamm.

    I know it might not seem like it, but Scharpling is on the left, and Jon Hamm is playing him on the right.

    And that still not everything Tom Scharpling has done. He has also worked with Funny Or Die and John Hodgman, written for The ClassicalThe Onion, GQ, and Harp Magazine. Needless to say, Tom is a busy guy.

    And with that, we've come to the end of this edition of "Hey, It's That Voice!" Thank you for joining me for this massive installment of this weekly article. Join me next time when we look at Steven's mom!