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For most adults, it isn't easy to change the apparent gender of their voices. It can be done — some are practiced enough to pull it off, and some can just pull it off by natural talent — but otherwise, the voice will just sound goofy. A man imitating a woman will speak in a ridiculous falsetto, while a woman impersonating a man will put on the deepest baritone she can muster. If the goofy voice is part of a joke in a comedy, it can still work. When done deliberately to make a manly-sounding girl or vice-versa, it's this trope.
is a Sub Trope
, which is an animation trope about adult women doing young boys' voices or adult men doing falsettos. Not to be confused with Vocal Dissonance
, which is when a person's natural voice does not seem to fit their appearance.
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Imitating a Female Voice
- This commercial features a young male moving into a new town, where every girl he meets sounds like a man. The only girl who doesn't sound like that is a very homely girl. It turns out that the commercial is for Ajinomoto Stadium — the girls sound like that because they've been constantly screaming at the games.
Anime and Manga
- The Lucky Star dub has Derek Stephen Prince play a number of female extras.
- The original Japanese version subverts this, by having a female voice actor (Kujira) voicing female characters... with a male-sounding voice. (She also voices Orochimaru in Naruto, for those interested.)
- And to complete the triangle, Derek Stephen Prince voiced Ma Toad in Naruto.
- In the Golden Boy dub, one female minor character (who is seen for about 15 seconds in one episode), who is rather fat and unattractive, is voiced, rather badly and for laughs, by a man.
- That man, by the way, is none other than Spike Spencer.
- Shangri La has two female-looking characters obviously voiced by males.
- Michael Bell had a few of these on Voltron.
- On Sonic X, the maid Ella is voiced by Mike Pollock, who also plays Dr. Eggman in the same show.
- Peace Maker Kurogane's resident pretty boy Souji Okita.
- Seto no Hanayome (more prominent in the first OVA) Lunar's Papa talks alternately between his Moe Moe voice and his manly voice.
- In the Japanese version of Princess Mononoke, Moro's voice is provided by Miwa Akihiro, who has found something of a niche portraying mysterious older female charaters.
- Chimpette from the Zanpakuto arc of Bleach is voiced by a woman... who usually voices male characters, and uses a male voice for the role. Probably because the character was originally a male baboon.
- The English dub voice of Grell Sutcliffe in Black Butler sounds like he's trying to sound more feminine, which is quite appropriate seeing as Grell is a trans woman. Whether this is on purpose or by accident...
- Many people actually preferred Grell's voice in the English dub compared to Grell's seiyuu and found it to be one of the better decisions in the anime. Which is ironic, because it's the VA's first big role
- The Swedish dub for Galaxy Express 999 had over half the female cast voiced by a man. And... not very discreetly either. Imagine a female android entering a train cabin, she is completely naked, and looks like she is made of crystal, with long flowing crystal like hair. Then she speaks and you hear the voice of an old man... it. is. HORRIBLE...
- In the Japanese dub of Papuwa, the character Harada Umako is done by Ishii Kouji to play up the fact that she's the manliest character in the show despite being the sole female. Subverted in the English, however, by Joanne Bonasso speaking broken English in a faux Russian accent.
- Ugly old crone Uranai Baba in Dragon Ball was initially voiced by Takiguchi Junpei, who gave her a hoarse, wizened voice.
- Kaoru Hanase from Tamako Market, the beautiful florist who just so happens to be voiced by Daisuke Ono.
- In an episode of Lupin III The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, Oscar (Yuuki Kaji) goes undercover in drag.
- The Firesign Theatre, being all men, do both male and female characters on their albums. The eeriest is definitely Phil Austin.
Film - Animated
- Edna Mode of The Incredibles. She's played by the director himself because he couldn't find anyone else who could pull off the Japanese/German accent he wanted.
- Larry King as Doris the Ugly Stepsister in Shrek 2 doesn't even bother with a falsetto.
- Neither does Regis Philbin in Shrek the Third, as the other stepsister.
- In the British version of Shrek 2, Larry King was replaced by a talk show host who is more well known in the UK, Jonathon Ross. While still hardly feminine, his somewhat more high pitched, lisping voice could be considered more convincing.
- Strictly speaking, Jonathan Ross has a rhotacism rather than a lisp.
- Given that the Ugly Stepsisters are traditionally played by men in drag in the pantomime of Cinderella, that was probably deliberate.
- Roz, the dispatcher in Monsters Inc is voiced by Pixar story man Bob Peterson. In this case.
Film - Live Action
- White Chicks. It does not work at all, because the film expects us to buy that nobody sees through their disguises. Their Miss Piggy voices combined with the "No plastic surgeon is that bad" look to completely ruin the suspension of disbelief.
- It does help that the people the Wayans are supposed to be interacting with seem mildly retarded. "You can get knee implants?!"
- Robin Williams managed an almost convincing voice in Mrs. Doubtfire. It may have helped that he played an old woman, not a young one. A British one, at that.
- Edna Turnblad in Hairspray is this trope. She's a female character who was played by drag queen Divine in the original movie. Harvey Fierstein originated the role on Broadway.
- John Travolta in the 2007 movie plays it more realistically, with a distinctly softer lilt than Fierstein's. Other stage versions have Ednas that barely try to sound feminine at all.
- Also a case of Reality Is Unrealistic; several critics asked why Travolta was doing that weird voice, when he's actually playing Edna with a passable Balitmore accent.
- Many fans of the original stage show despised Travolta's interpretation specifically because he was too believable a woman. Edna was intended to be played like a drag queen, and Travolta said there was "nothing gay about Hairspray" and somehow managed to de-gay the word "fabulous."
- In Orgazmo. One of the women the titular character has to do a porno with is nicknamed "T-Rex" because she's so rotund. She probably has the deepest voice of any character in the film. Anyone who's since seen South Park will recognize that Trey Parker is dubbing her. Apparently the overweight middle-aged actress who was such a good sport to appear in the film didn't have a scary enough voice.
- Averted: In To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar, Patrick Swayze's drag voice is the second most convincing, aiming for soft and breathy rather than falsetto. The most convincing of all the drag queens, disturbingly, is John Leguizamo as Chi Chi Rodrigues, who only has to go up maybe half an octave.
- That's because he has done drag as part of his comedy routine in the past, and already had a little experience in that area as opposed to macho men Swayze and Wesley Snipes.
- Dustin Hoffman does a pretty convincing female voice in Tootsie.
- And then averts it: "..taxi......taxi.....TAXI!...."
- Liev Schreiber has done two drag roles, and he doesn't even bother to disguise his (rather deep and masculine) voice. One was Chris from Mixed Nuts, who complains "My voice doesn't suit me." The other is Vilma, who Schreiber described as a "gay man who wears women's clothing." He does, however, make his voice sound kind of gentler than normal.
- In Kung Pow!, a Gag Dub kung-fu film, Steve Odekirk voices nearly everyone. This results in humorously falsetto female voices.
Live Action TV
- Multiple PDQ Bach works call for singing by a countertenor (that is, a man singing in the vocal range of a woman). Naturally played for laughs.
- There's Truth in Television here: Contraltos (female tenors) exist; so do countertenors (male altos). Compositions are sometimes written seriously specifying these ranges.
- The part of Baba the Turk (a bearded lady) in Igor Stravinsky’s opera The Rake's Progress is frequently played by a countertenor.
- Both the male and female voice in this song, "Shoes by Tiga," are done by the same man (the aforementioned Tiga◊) with the help of audio-editing software.
- On the Pogues' album Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash, Shane MacGowan does both the male and female parts in "The Gentleman Soldier". His female voice is of the screechy, Pythonesque variety.
- Eurobeat singer Davide di Marcantonio often did this, likely with the aid of pitch-shifting, especially in Rose & John - Living in America.
- White Town's "Your Woman".
- Neil Sedaka, especially in this song
- Carole Pope of Canadian band Rough Trade is a Butch Lesbian with a very deep voice. See for yourself.
- Jack White (of the White Stripes) sang the secondary lead vocal on Electric Six's "Danger! High Voltage" using a distinctly more feminine inflection. The video features a woman miming to his vocal part.
- Nick Pitera, who is capable of singing all the vocal parts of multiple Disney movies, both male and female.
- Russel Mael of Sparks, who usually has an insanely feminine voice.
- Philip Bailey of Earth Wind And Fire was usually indistinguishable from the female backing singers that the band hired when singing in his trademark falsetto.
- The song "Brighton Rock" by Queen was originally supposed to be a duet, with both a male and female vocalist. Unfortunately, the band had trouble finding an appropriate female vocalist, so Freddie Mercury ended up singing both parts himself.
- In Fleetwood Mac songs from 1975 onwards, it's sometimes hard to tell who is singing, as Stevie Nicks (female) and Lindsay Buckingham (male) have very similar voices.
- Eminem frequently does a flasetto for female characters in his songs.
- Rob Zombie does a duet with himself in "Demonoid Phenomenon." One of the voices is digitally altered to sound vaguely feminine.
- Eddie Vedder uses his normal singing voice in the Pearl Jam song "Daughter."
- KMFDM recorded a version of Madonna's "Material Girl" with deep-voiced En Esch singing all the original lines unaltered.
- Ray Goulding, ironically enough the big, burly half of Bob & Ray, used the same matronly falsetto for numerous female characters. It was a lot more convincing when he was younger; in their earliest shows, he also had a breathy, right-over-the-top voice for their soap opera heroines: "Ooh, David, kiss me, my darling!"
- The Reduced Shakespeare Company Radio Show has special appearances by several female celebrities, whose voices sound a little deep. This is because they're not actually female celebrities, but Reed Martin, Professional Impressionist!
- Female Shakesperian characters are mostly played by Adam Long. This is authentic, people!
- Benjamin "Katon" Carignan's female voice, as heard on Loids are not Christmas.
- I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again had Tim Brooke-Taylor as Lady Constance and various women with a strong similarity to Lady Constance. Lady Constance made a comeback as one of the Ugly Sisters in the Radio 4 Panto Black Cinderella II Goes East, along with Graeme Garden as Moaning Minne; as Queens Victoria and Boudicca in the I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue's Yet Another Christmas Carol; and as the Duchess (with Minnie as the Cook) in ISIHAC's Alice in Wonderland parody.
- A staple of many stage comedians. For example, Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias.
- Also worth noting that, with the right software, one can sound like the opposite gender. Morph Vox and others are pretty convincing if you set them up right.
- This is exactly how the female voices are done in Hyadain's video game music covers, according to Word Of God.
- To avert this in real life, you have to remember that doing a convincing female voice is NOT a matter of how high you can go. It's a matter of resonance—most male voices are far more resonant than female voices, so making your voice less resonant will get a much more convincing result (usually a low-voiced woman) compared to the standard comedic routine (someone on caffeine, helium, and/or crack).
- In speech (as opposed to singing) verisimilitude is not in the pitch or the timbre, as there's a fairly large overlap in both between male and female voices. For about the upper two-thirds of the tenor range and about the lower two-thirds of the alto range, speech mannerisms, subtle and less so, dominate. Skillful manipulation of these can produce a convincing voice (male, female, or genderless) in almost anyone of any sex or gender. For that matter, a person's timbre is more flexible than most people give it credit for.
- There are quite a few YouTube tutorials on this, mostly intended for transitioning transwomen. CandiFLA (slightly NSFW*) might be the best-known.
- Drag Queens are a mixed bag on this. Some manage to sound like typical women, some attempt to disguise their voices, some do nothing special since their natural male voices are that high, and others...it can be a little jarring to watch a queen elegantly lipsynch a Janet Jackson number, then turn on the microphone and say in a gravelly voice, "How the fuck is everyone?!" Although drag queens can't afford to be too convincing (at least onstage). Even women who do female drag (yes, it's done) work to make themselves unconvincing.
- Bonita Soleil from Psychonauts, though like Doctor Girlfriend below her voice actor doesn't even attempt to give her a feminine voice.
- This is used as a joke when Raz first talks to her. He finds her in her dressing room, crying in a high female voice—but the sobbing is actually a recording to help her get into character. When Bonita finally speaks, her voice is far different and the crying continues until she turns it off.
- Lady D from Henry Hatsworth In The Puzzling Adventure. The game isn't voiced in the traditional sense, but when she talks, sound bites of deep, throaty coughs punctuated by VERY masculine "Yoo-Hoo"'s play.
- Stronghold uses the Monty Python variation for the game's few female characters.
- Dissidia: Final Fantasy has Jason Spisak voicing Bartz, a mimic-type character who copies the attacks of other characters and mimics their tone of voice when doing so. In the original game the only female on the hero roster was Terra, and Spizak didn't even attempt to imitate her. Then the prequel came out, and Tifa, Yuna and Lightning joined the group, and Bartz's lines were re-recorded to be better imitations of the person he was copying. Thus, Jason Spisak had to imitate four very different-sounding female characters. And he pulled it off. His impressions are so good in fact, some wondered for a time if it was a distorted version of the original voice and didn't think it was actually him.
- Gruntilda and her sisters from the Banjo-Kazooie series. Grunty and Mingella have Python-esque women's voices (Speaking Simlish), while Blobelda's voice has almost no trace of femininity.
- A random male hobo in Deus Ex Human Revolution does a surprisingly good impersonation of newsreader Eliza Cassan.
- Works with most Abridged Series, since they are not supposed to be taken seriously.
- Subverted in Gantz Abridged, in which at first Kishimoto is voiced by hbi2k (who admits his lady voices suck, as seen in Berserk Abridged), with her voice being commented on by other characters. After she clears her throat, her voice changes with an actual woman (Cassius614) voicing her from that point on.
- As mentioned above, hbi2k voiced Casca from Berserk Abridged and Lampshaded this in Gantz Abridged.
- One often-praised aspect of Naruto The Abridged Series is Masako's believable female voices, such as Ino, Haku(?), and Hinata. Meanwhile, Vegeta voices Sakura in the finest Miss Piggy tradition, and does a less exaggerated but no more convincing voice for Temari.
- Both applied and subverted in Ranma Abridged, as Akane is voiced by ZomgRuler and assorted random females by EliteslayerX, but the two admitted to not being able to do female voices and put up a casting call for the remaining important characters. All other female characters are voiced by women.
- Lita in Sailor Moon Abridged doesn't even bother, instead firmly a Jive Turkey.
- Tea and Mai in Yu Gi Oh The Abridged Series. When Rebecca showed up, Little Kuriboh just brought in his (now-ex) wife to do a guest voice.
- Lampshaded in episode 50:
, Mai Valentine, you sound like a man! That is completely normal for this series, but still, what the hell?!
- So far averted in TeamFourStar's Dragon Ball Z Abridged Parody, where female voices are provided by actual females... except in the case of Princess Snake, voiced by LordQuadros, who does Metal Gear Solid The Abridged Series. Everything about her is a Shout Out to LordQuadros' own project and its source material, the disconcertingly growly voice included.
- Truncated Power Rangers doesn't even try to disguise the guy voice for the Pink Ranger.
- In Wedding Peach Abridged, Hinagiku was originally voiced by the brother of Toku Tenshi, the Abridged Series creator. When he had to vacate the role, she assumed the voice of Hinagiku, but voiced the character as an exaggeration and affectionate parody of her brother's performance.
- Yuki Nagato, a virtually silent schoolgirl, is voiced The Abridging of Haruhi Suzumiya as a Scary Black Man.
- Katara is a major case of this in Avatar The Abridged Series. It breaks near the end of season 1 when her new level in badass comes with a female voice actor.
- K-On! doesn't have a single male character of note. K-On! The Abridged Series is performed by a group called "Just 5 Guys." Do the math. (Some attempt falsettos with varying success, but Abridged-Mio goes for the "are we sure she's not transgender?" approach.)
- Pokémon: The 'Bridged Series refers to this case as a medical condition called "Falsettosis". Misty suffers from this in the first episode, where she is voiced by xJerry64x, but averted in all other episodes where she is played by the female Nowacking.
- All of the main ponies of the Pony Dot Mov series, except Twilight Sparkle.
- Strong Bad does a "growly" variation for his "Teen Girl Squad" toons.
- While Jonathan Sullivan on Escape Pod is still recognizably masculine, his girl-voices aren't parodies.
- Red vs. Blues PSA announcement on how the Internet is different from real life: an obvious guy in a pink suit saying "I *am* a girl. Tee hee hee".
- Linkara from Atop The Fourth Wall, when he reads dialog from any ladies in a comic.
- His girlfriend Liz too. She can do a good vocal imitation of a man, but not a woman!
- The Wiiviewer doing Princess Peach.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants Grandmas Kisses Dub, Spongebob's grandmother is given a very deep, manly voice. It is hilarious.
- Some male Lets Players tend to do this. An infamous example being Raocow with his voice for Marisa. With it being strangely bizzare and hard to get out of your head.
Imitating a Male Voice
Anime and Manga
- Pulled off to varying degrees of success by Mayo Suzukaze in Rurouni Kenshin—the Battousai voice is a very convincing heroic tenor. The goofy, boyish voice Kenshin is meant to have the rest of the time drifts between believable and obviously female.
- All over the place in Simoun: there isn't a single male voice actor in the show. Justified in that everyone in the world of Simoun is born female, and any men are women who either chose to be so or allowed the Spring to randomly chose for them.
- Pokémon's Maddie Blaustein is an interesting case. Besides Meowth, she mostly played males, including the ridiculously gruff Lt. Surge. Of course, Maddie is transgender, which could possibly make her an exception if that wouldn't also make her an exceptional case of Crossdressing Voices as she also played young, soft-voiced boys and A.J.
- The Bakuras in Yu-Gi-Oh! are very obviously played by a woman, though, even with Yami Bakura, it fits due to his/their feminine looks. Its down right amusing in the last season, however, when the much more masculine Thief King Bakura sounds the same as Yami Bakura.
- Mitsuki Saiga and Kujira are VERY good at this.
- Disney's version of Mulan, about a young Chinese woman who secretly takes her father's place in the army, has her affecting a ridiculous deep baritone every time she speaks as a man, for comic effect. And it works. It helps that her cohorts aren't any too bright...
- Subverted in the Whoopi Goldberg movie The Associate, where she disguises herself as a white male investor to get ahead on Wall Street. At first, the Drag Queen coaching Whoopi tries to get her to deepen her voice ("If I go any deeper I'll be talking out my uterus!"), but eventually she just uses a slightly-raspier version of her natural voice and fools people all the same.
Live Action TV
- In one of the "Gimmick of the Week" episodes of Charmed, Prudence turns into a guy. No, wait. She turns into Shannon Doherty in a bad wig and mustache. Her voice was just as unconvincing.
- In an episode of Out of This World, the main character pretends she's a guy over the phone (can't remember why). It doesn't quite work. He friend notes that the guy had a "nasally voice".
- Sabrina magically turns into a guy so people will take her more seriously in Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In other words, she gets a hair cut, baggy jeans, and a jersey. She sorta puts on a voice, but it's supposed to be funny because it's bad. It works, though. Though the guys she talks to think she's weird.
- Happens in Fringe when Olivia is possessed by William Bell. Anna Torv does a pretty good job of it, too.
- In Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Miriam Shor plays Yitzak, who is presenting a male gender identity throughout the movie (Yitzak's biological sex is left ambiguous in the finished version of the movie). His distinctly feminine voice is the only giveaway underneath the fake facial hair and men's clothing, which emphasizes that Yitzak is a feminine person who is forced to act masculine.
- Traditionally, the role of adult Gary Coleman in Avenue Q is played by a woman with a deep voice.
- It's quite common for pre-teen boys to be voiced by female actors.
- In one episode of Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels, Taffy impersonates a man during a telephone call.
- Done in the Clone High episode "A Shot in the D'Arc" when Joan of Arc poses as a boy in order to play on the basketball team. The disguise is basically a baseball cap, a fake mustache, and a terrible baritone. Somehow, her mask never seems to slip.
- In The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron episode "Trading Faces", Jimmy and Cindy are accidentally body swapped, taking their voices with them. At school, they attempt to affect each other's voice in order to fool people. Since Jimmy is already voiced by a woman, he is unsurprisingly able to pull off a good fake of Cindy's voice. Cindy's attempts to sound like Jimmy, however, fall squarely into this trope.
- Dick Beals, who died May 29, 2012 at age 83, made a living voicing children in his career as his voice was buffeted by his 4' 7'' body frame. He was Speedy Alka-Seltzer, and was the voice of not only Buzzer Bell on The Funny Company but he was the voice of Shrinkin' Violette (a girl) on same show.
- In The Powerpuff Girls episode "Bubble Boy," the girls capture Rowdyruff Boy Boomer and plant Bubbles disguised as him among the others. That the other Rowdyruffs could not suspect anything given Bubbles' normally higher pitched voice and baby blue eyes speaks volumes of their intelligence.
- Similarly, Bubbles is the head of a poorly-made male disguise in "I See A Funny Cartoon In Your Future," and again, the antagonist doesn't catch on to her disguised voice being abnormally high.
Can go either way
- About 97.5% of books recorded on audio have a) just one narrator and b) several characters of both genders. Even most of the very old and um, traditional books will have at least a few female characters. The upshot is a narrator having to voice characters of the other sex a great deal of the time. Success varies wildly.
- More of a "not-sounding-like-you'd-expect", but applies to several characters in the Honor Harrington series. The titular character is a 6'5" Heavy Worlder Lady of War, who has a soprano voice. Thandi Palane is a genetically modified Amazonian Beauty who can literally punch a guy's face in, and a mezzo-soprano (one step down from soprano). The Memetic Badass (both in-verse and out) Victor Catchat is a tenor (highest male voice within the modal register).
- In Rock Band, a lot of the time the on-screen singer will make for something of an incongruous contrast with the original vocals. Female characters somewhat more often, since most of the available songs are sung by men, but it's just as bizarre to see a big hulking mountain of a man singing in the voice of Alanis Morisette. Or, even worse/better, GLaDOS.
- The same goes for Guitar Hero, where you can have Lars Umlaut sing 'Stop staring at my D-cup'.
- Even better, the vocalist generally acts on stage as if their sex was based on that of their singing voice. So not only will he sing like a girl but also sway his hips.
- This wasn't a problem in the earlier games, where your character didn't do the actual singing - there were two separate vocalists, one of either gender.
- Of course, making your lead singer of ambiguous gender can account for songs sung by either gender. For example, Poison.
- While Guitar Hero: Van Halen exclusively has male lead singers because all the songs are sung by males, the backing vocals (sung by the guitarist and bassist in the game) can be either gender depending on the song, and anyone can be assigned to them. Try assigning Lars Umlaut or even Eddie Van Halen to those roles when performing "Pretty Fly For A White Guy", or any female to the same role when performing "Master Exploder".
- In Rock Band 2 you could be forgiven for thinking the developers made a mistake by assigning a female singer to "Visions" by Abnormality. While it is a very deep vocal part, it's actually a woman doing a death metal growl.