How did you get involved with Pound Puppies? Did this come from your time on Dan Vs. and your other previous work with The Hub?
John Di Maggio: I guess so. I have worked with this group before. There are a lot of people that work at The Hub that have worked at other places. I guess you could say that. I basically came in and read for it, and I got the part.
Is the voice acting community a pretty tight knit group? I mean, do they jump you in? Once you are down, you're down for life?
John Di Maggio: I think there is a group of people who do voices in cartoons. It is a hard nut to crack. To get in. But once you are in, it is mafia-like (laughs). There are certain people that you work with a lot. You find your chemistry with them. That makes it a lot easier when you show up on a new show or start doing a project. You know these people, and you know you'll be fine.
When you've done as many voices as you've done, what do you find inspires you as an artist? How do you come up with such great, different voices every time?
John Di Maggio: Well...I just start with the character. I want to see what the character layout is, and what this character looks like. What inspired this character. I start from there. I start from the ground up when trying to develop a voice for a character. That is how I get inspired. I like to see what the mouth looks like, and try to imagine what is coming out. It all depends. It depends on what the powers that be want. You mix that up in your salad, and you get whatever comes out. There is always room for compromise. You always have to remember that.
What kind of breed are you, and what is your character all about?
John Di Maggio: Nibblet is a big ol' dog. He is pretty much a mutt. And he is a big ol' slobberer. I went from there for the physical role of the voice. As far as the character is concerned, he is just a lovable dog. He is just a friendly loveable dog who likes to play. He likes to play more than all of the other dogs combined. And he loves to be around his pals, and doing stuff. He is filled with amazement and wonderment about the world. He is very naïve. But that's what makes him so adorable.
With a dog that is slobbering all over everything, what do you have to do to get that special sound going. Are you filling up your mouth with water the whole time?
John Di Maggio: No! Remember when you were a kid and you pretended? You would play a game called pretend? I have the wonderful and fortunate ability to still do that as a grown man. That is the whole thing. You pretend you have a mouth full of slobber. That's basically it. You play. You pretend. What would I sound like if I did this. It is childlike, but with a salary.
Do you have a dog that you are able to pull inspiration from?
John Di Maggio: Its funny. I do. I have had dogs in the past, and I just go two dogs from rescue. They are sister dogs, and they are awesome. My little Francesca and Monique. They are sisters from the same litter. They were found together. I didn't even go in to get them. I just saw their picture, from this rescue, and I said, "I want them! Send them over here." And I got them. I have had them since April, and they are just the sweetest dogs. When I did stand-up, I used to do impressions of dogs in the act. Because dogs are very funny, with dog sneezes and dogs throwing up, all that kind of stuff. You look at a dog, and you do find inspiration. Yeah.
You mention getting your dogs from a rescue. That seems to be one of the themes of this show. That its teaching kids to seek out a dog at the pound as opposed to going to a dog breeder or some mall pet store where you can get a dog that has been inbred to the ninth degree.
John Di Maggio: Yeah, there is definitely that lesson in there. But it's not all about that. It's about being yourself, and trying to find out who you are. Being the best you can be, and working towards that diligently. I think that's really what this show is about. It's about finding your own voice. Sometimes you have to have help with that. You have to accept that help. You learn from people. And dogs? They are accepting a responsibility, too. There are all sorts of life lessons within this show, and each episode will show that.
Do you come at a show like Pound Puppies with a different mindset than something like Futurama?
John Di Maggio: I don't know. I think Futurama is in a much different space than Pound Puppies. With Futurama, you have guys from MIT with PhDs doing science jokes and math jokes. This show is a little less brainy. But, I don't know...I think this show is adorable. I love coming in here and doing this show, because the cast is very funny. They are great, and it's a nice time. It's very funny. It's cute. It's like going to the pound for twenty-two minutes. Volunteering your time, and playing with puppies. That is really kind of it.
They really secured some great voice actors and some great writers for this. It's not just some cheap, throwaway cartoon.
John Di Maggio: The Hub has pulled out all of the stops trying to get this channel going. I think they've done a good job. More power to them. I want to be a part of The Hub for a while. (Laughs)
You've been in the business of voicing cartoons for awhile. And watching The Hub recently, I noticed that those old 80s cartoons really put an emphasis on who the writers were. Do you find that is true today? John Di Maggio: Within this day and age, everything has to hold up. In order for it to hold up, they have to have the right people coming up with ideas, in order to compete in this TV environment that we currently reside in. You can't lose respect for the writers. Without them, you got nothing. That has been the case since the beginning of television, and the beginning of radio. You can't do anything without the writer. This I know. I think it's very important that we have the writers that we have. I would like to see the writers get as much respect as they've always had, and more. It's funny. I'd like everyone to get a piece. The writers just happen to be a very important cog in this type of ensemble than most.
Even though you are primarily a voice actor, you have a legion of fans, and because of things like Comic Con, they all know what you look like. Is that cool for you?
John Di Maggio: I am not really interested in that. But it is fine for me. I don't mind people being like, "Oh, wow! You are on one of my favorite shows and I really enjoy it. Thank you!" I don't mind that, but I didn't get into this for people blowing smoke up my...You know what I mean! So, that's that. I am fine with it, as long as someone doesn't start to stalk me, or something like that. Then they will have problems. I don't play that. I am from New Jersey. There aren't any anti-stocking laws in New Jersey, because people from Jersey handle their business. Let me put that out there and remind people. I ain't no joke! When I go to Comic Con, I need security. I feel like the fifth Beatle. It's pretty crazy. But that's the way it is. And that is my core audience right there. So you deal with it. You handle your business, and you take it with a grain of salt. I like it. But then there are parts that I don't like. You know? It's frustrating sometimes. Its like, "Can't you just get out of the way? I thought I was done with this. I just want to go to my room!" Then you tell yourself, "You have to cool out! You have to handle these people. You have to take care of them." It's a simple attitude adjustment. And then you get back to people pleasing.
You have so many great projects coming up. Is there anything you are excited for?
John Di Maggio: Lets see. There has been so much stuff. There was a last minute audition I did for Fox. I'm not sure I should say anything about it, so I'm not going to. But there is a possibility that I will be involved with a show for Fox that is beyond what I have done in the past. Its cool. There are all sorts of things going on. You know what? All I want to do is work. As long as I can keep busy, I'm fine. That is all I am looking for. I love what I do passionately. I don't want to screw it up. I just want to keep doing what I am doing. Hopefully I can. There are new Futuramas coming up. I am really looking forward to those. And all the stuff I am doing for this. There are all kinds of shows. It is overwhelming, the amount of shows I am doing. I am flat out grateful. I feel very fortunate, and I hope that I am doing every job justice, because I really love it. It is the best job.