Arts·Q with Tom Power

Paw Patrol voice actor Ron Pardo reflects on his unexpected journey to kids entertainment

Ron Pardo may not be a household name, but kids around the world will certainly recognize his voice. The Canadian voice actor and comedian plays Mayor Humdinger and Cap’n Turbot on Paw Patrol. As a new film in the franchise hits theatres, Pardo joins Q’s Tom Power for an interview.

The Canadian voice actor and comedian plays Mayor Humdinger and Cap’n Turbot

Head shot of Ron Pardo.
Ron Pardo may not be a household name, but kids around the world will certainly recognize his voice. The Canadian voice actor and comedian plays Mayor Humdinger and Cap’n Turbot on Paw Patrol. As a new film in the franchise hits theatres, Pardo joins Q’s Tom Power for an interview. (Submitted by Ron Pardo)

If you have kids in your life, there's a strong chance that voice actor Ron Pardo will sound familiar. For the past decade, Pardo has voiced both Mayor Humdinger and Cap'n Turbot on the wildly successful Canadian children's series Paw Patrol.

But Pardo's journey to the recording booth was a somewhat unconventional one. In a new interview, he tells Q's Tom Power he didn't plan on working in TV at all. Initially, he had wanted to teach elementary and middle school — a job he did for 12 years. The problem was, he also had a tremendous desire to do funny voices, which he'd do sometimes when reading aloud to his students. For example, he might make an announcement about intramural sports while impersonating Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"I was teaching grade seven in 1993 or so, [and] I thought, 'I'm in my mid-30s. If I don't do something with these voices, I'm going to regret it,'" he says.

At first, Pardo thought that "something" was stand-up comedy. He spent a number of years in the '90s working in comedy clubs. His specialty was impressions.

"I remember watching Saturday Night Live and seeing Dana Carvey and Phil Hartman do their impressions, and I thought, 'I can do those, I can do those voices,'" he says. "Not at that level, of course. But I thought I've got to start somewhere. Waterloo [Ont.,] had a Yuk Yuk's, so I went ... and I did amateur night for a few months, and then I entered their Search for Canada's Funniest New Comic contest, and I won.… Then I just started getting gigs."

Pardo's act featured several characters created by legendary Looney Tunes voice actor Mel Blanc.

I thought, 'I can do those, I can do those voices.'- Ron Pardo

"Back in the early '90s, Eric Clapton had his Unplugged album, and Layla was the big hit on there," recalls Pardo. "His nice, slow version of Layla, well, I did that as Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, the Road Runner, Marvin the Martian, Sylvester the Cat, Elmer Fudd. That was my closer for a few years. And then it became my opener, because I wrote more bits."

He says his approach to voice acting mostly consists of combining different impressions, and then letting the character evolve. Mayor Humdinger — whom the initial audition breakdown described as "whiny, greedy, narcissistic" — started out as a cross between '50s comedian Jack Benny and Snidely Whiplash, the villain from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons.

WATCH | Official trailer for Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie:

"So I combined the two … and then the voice director would say 'more whiny,'" he says. "The producer would say 'whinier, please.' So I'd go even more and it would just get great. It grew and grew and … it just developed a life of its own."

For those who are unfamiliar with Paw Patrol, the elevator pitch of the show goes something like this: in the town of Adventure Bay, most emergency services — police, fire, and search and rescue — are provided by a pack of specially trained talking dogs under the command of a 10-year-old boy named Ryder. Mayor Humdinger is a recurring villain, the mayor of the rival town of Foggy Bottom. It's one of the most successful Canadian television shows of all time. It airs in 160 countries and has been dubbed into 30 different languages. There are countless toys and games based on the series, as well as two full-length animated features (Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie is in theatres now).

Pardo says the appeal of the show is simple. 

"The characters are so cute," he tells Power. "The pups. They all work together. It's teamwork. There are no favourites. They just all work together to take care of villains like Humdinger, who they always forgive, and who doesn't cause too much mayhem. But you know — enough."

He adds that there's a particular joy in portraying a cartoon villain.

"Everybody likes to visit that part of their psyche," he says. "They would at least maybe [like to] imagine what it would be like to be that way. You know, narcissistic, whiny, impulsive, greedy. And it's nice to be the person that everybody wants to 'get' in the cartoon world."

The full interview with Ron Pardo is available on our podcast, Q with Tom Power. Listen and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.


Interview with Ron Pardo produced by Vanessa Greco.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Dart

Web Writer

Chris Dart is a writer, editor, jiu-jitsu enthusiast, transit nerd, comic book lover, and some other stuff from Scarborough, Ont. In addition to CBC, he's had bylines in The Globe and Mail, Vice, The AV Club, the National Post, Atlas Obscura, Toronto Life, Canadian Grocer, and more.

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