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What It's Like Behind The Scenes For Bob's Burgers' Voice Actors - Exclusive

This is a landmark year for Bob's Burgers: the show is currently in its 11th season, and it's going to crack the 200 episode mark on November 15th. In anticipation of that milestone, Looper interviewed John Roberts, the voice of Linda Belcher. Among our topics of discussion were the delayed Halloween episode ("I think it's a bummer, but it's going to be a day after Halloween, I think there'll still be some decorations up," he says) and what it's like working with showrunner Loren Bouchard ("Loren runs such a tight ship and the writers are all so good"). We also talked about what makes Bob's Burgers unique in the animation industry: the recording process.

Most animated movies and TV shows have actors record their parts separately, both to accommodate production schedules and to create a perfect audio track for the animators to work with. Bob's Burgers, on the other hand, has everyone in the room together, recording all at once and playing off each other. At least, that's how they operated before the pandemic. Some episodes were finished beforehand, but Roberts explains how this season was different. "We record at home, but we can hear a few other people now," he says. "It's not like it was, but we've adjusted to improvising a lot more with the writers than with each other." That said, even from afar, Roberts jocosely assures us, "I can anticipate Jon [Benjamin]'s stupid jokes at this point."

Improv and letting people have their moments

There's always some laughter in the Bob's Burgers studio, as is to be expected with such solid material. Roberts says that the cast is "really good... with not laughing over when someone's having a moment, to just let them go. So every once in a while, I'll let out like a, 'Ha,' like that, but then I'll just be like, 'Oh God, I just ruined that take.'" But even with the occasional (and understandable) laugh, "We're very good at respecting each other's moments, and it is like a volleyball team or something where we're all kind of passing the ball to each other."

A major benefit of Bob's Burgers' unorthodox recording sessions is the opportunity for something unusual in animation: improvisation. How do they make that work? "Usually the first two takes, we stick to the script, and then the third take we'll have a little fun," Roberts explains. "And Loren is very patient in letting us go and have fun with that moment." Familiarity has helped, with Roberts saying that the writers and the performers have creatively "all morphed into each other, and I don't think I could tell you what's improv and what's not improv anymore."

Another benefit to recording in person is that Roberts gets to meet the guest stars. He admits to getting "a little star struck" upon meeting Kevin Kline, Megan Mullaly, and Cloris Leachman —  but "mostly it's just having fun when everyone shows up and is just ready to play, and that's the best way to meet people."

Catch Bob's Burgers Sundays on Fox at 9PM EST. Stay tuned to Looper for more exclusive Bob's Burgers coverage.