“It’s full of electrocution and retribution, and death in a funny way, with a little peppering of drug use.”John Jimerson (Micro-Pro Guy, Dr. Ray Ignite) on Jesus Pancake
There’s something about a really good story. Whether it’s the style or the characters, some stories engage you in unexpected ways. When I sat down with Raleigh-based actor John Jimerson, the voice of the Micro-Pro guy and Dr. Ray Ignite in Jesus Pancake, he found that the appeal of this audio drama was the sense of coming-of-age in Aimee’s journey. “I’m a sucker for stories of discovery, of coming of age, and even though Aimee Murphy is a little older in a traditional coming-of-age story as she’s not like a teenager,” he explains, “those kinds of stories have always appealed to me. It’s like hero’s journey stuff.”
In particular, Jimerson enjoyed playing the role of Dr. Ray Ignite, an untraditional medical practicioner that Aimee turns to in the wake of discovering her unique abilities. The character, he explains, “unlike any character I would usually be asked to play in any other medium. So, that was a real treat.” To tackle the mysterious character, Jimerson was also able to collaborate with one of the series’ writers, Mara Thomas. Because Thomas wrote a great deal of Dr. Ray Ignite’s character, he could ask some of his key questions of “Why? What does this mean? What does this mean specifically to you, Mara?” He notes that “having that kind of access to people who are writing the words that you are then interpreting was awesome, and I’m sure what I created was different as a result.”
On the actual recording process, while it was a great deal different than performing drama, Jimerson found it similar to his work doing commercials and voiceovers. “It seems similar to me in the other work I’ve done in commercial on-camera work and other voiceover work in that there is just one little slice of rehearsal and most of the preparation that you have to do… you’re at home, “ he notes on his process, “you’re sort of walking around, playing with the character, trying to figure out how to make the words that are on the page make sense.”
Due to the strength of the casting and recording process, Jimerson let me know how special it is to work with the Artist Soapbox team. “The people are really lovely,” he explains “there’s this feeling of reconnecting to folks I have known in other ways in other pretty recent chapters of my life.” When he works with the team, “There’s this feeling of ‘Oh, we get to be a temporary family again,’ and that always warms my heart. “
Although this is his second project with Artist Soapbox, he is still getting used to the uniqueness of audio dramas. When it comes to developing characters, “Your voice? That’s all you got. That’s really it, and I probably underestimated how much I wish I had channeled into my voice. Like maybe my eyebrows were doing a lot. Maybe my body was doing stuff,” Jimerson details, “I’m not completely new to this kind of work, but I’m still learning how to make the shifts… because no one can see me.”
When asked what he would say if he could tell anyone about Jesus Pancake, Jimerson answered: “It’s hilarious, it’s about the horrible family that all of us have, and it’s unexpected and irreverent. It’s full of electrocution and retribution, and death in a really funny way, with a little peppering of drug use.”
In particular, despite everything going on in Aimee’s life throughout the series, Jimerson returns to the universality of the story and the sense of the hero’s journey that attracted him to the project. To him,
“It’s a family drama. It feels like it should be safer than it is, but it’s not.”
Established in 2017, Artist Soapbox is a podcast production studio based in North Carolina. The company produces original scripted audio fiction and an ongoing interview podcast about the creative process. Through its various projects, Artist Soapbox cultivates aspiring audio dramatists and producers and partners with organizations and individuals to create new audio content.
Jesus Pancake is the sixth audio fiction project produced by Artist Soapbox, having released Master Builder in 2019, The New Colossus in 2020, the Declaration of Love audio anthology in 2020, ASBX Shorts in 2021, and the Food for Thought Excerpts in 2022. Due to its length and complexity, Jesus Pancake is the company’s most ambitious project yet.
Microwaves, family secrets, spiders, friendship, and the Power of the Pancake converge in this dark comedy about a middle-aged woman reckoning with her power for the first time. Aimee is intrigued when a pancake she makes looks just like Jesus until she realizes something truly profound and dangerous is at work.
Jesus Pancake is free on Artist Soapbox.com and all major podcast streaming platforms and is releasing weekly through the end of 2022.
Katy Koop is a theatre artist and writer based in North Carolina. Her writing has been published on websites like Electric Literature, Hello Giggles, Indy Week, and more. Her plays have been performed virtually and in North Carolina, NYC, and Minneapolis. She most recently attended the Kennedy Center Summer Playwriting intensive as a member of the BIPOC cohort and is currently pursuing her MS in Technical Communication at NCSU. You can find her tweeting at @katykooped and more of her work at katykoop.com.