Listening to that Inner Voice: Was it John Ratzenberger’s?

One of the great things about traveling across America for a national book tour is the wide diversity of people that you meet.  Recently, I had occasion to meet the actor of one of my legendary shows growing up – none other than Cliff Clavin.
Travis H. Brown & John Ratzenberger, New York City, May 2013

Travis H. Brown and John Ratzenberger – New York City, May 2013

During the 1980’s, long before the internet television and digital media, weeknight America turned to Cheers.  This broadcast helped us laugh, by helping us forget about our lives for a while.  During times of stress, these lead characters were known enough to even help us through tough times in America.

Although he introduced himself as a retired postmaster, his real name off-stage is John Deszo Ratzenberger.  Born in Bridgeport, CT, he still has a home there.  A conservative voice to promote economic liberty in Connecticut, it was a true pleasure to discuss arts, entertainment, and entrepreneurship with him briefly while at an event in New York City.  One of the interesting pleasures of meeting an entertainer such as John is going back to realize just how many other roles that you had forgotten he had played.  As a big Star Wars fan, I had missed his appearance on Empire Strikes Back as Bren Derlin (picture below).
John Ratzenberger
Now, his incredible Pixar Studios career stands as an example to anyone in show business:  work hard, take any job, and be grateful.  Work ethic in show business seems like a principle that can get lost in the details.  For me, it was pleasant to see John reminding young minds that professional careers are a privilege, not a right.
Perhaps his voice actor role that best matches this reinforcement of role and hard work was when he performed Mack in Cars:
“Endless days on the road and sleepless nights criss-crossing the country… For some this life would quickly grow old. But not Mack. No sir. Mack knows how important his role is. He’s driving Lightning McQueen, the world’s fastest racecar. He’s part of a team, and everybody knows there’s no I in team, just like there’s no I in Mack[1]”
Pixar Studios is now the most successful studio in Hollywood.  It’s no surprise that most (if not all) of their films has a John Ratzenberger voice somewhere in the plot.  For the rest of us involved with digital media, there’s much to learn from Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling.  I will keep listening, John.  Thank you.