The Simpsons has a practically endless stockade of side characters at their disposal after 27 seasons on the air. Perhaps one of the most beloved of these characters is Sideshow Bob, Krusty the Clown’s former sidekick who has a bit of a habit of trying to kill Bart. The cultured Sideshow Bob is appropriately voiced by Kelsey Grammer, whose other famous TV character, Frasier, is basically just a less murderous Sideshow Bob. For those who’ve ever wondered how Grammer developed the voice for the character, then you’re in luck.
Grammer was recently on The Graham Norton Show where he revealed the origin of the voice. Kelsey Grammer was asked by Graham Norton how his ability to sing led him to get the role of Sideshow Bob. Grammer explained that Sam Simon, one of the creators of The Simpsons, was a writer on Cheers, and he frequently heard Grammar sing while he was on set.
[Sam Simon] called me one afternoon and asked, 'Hey Kelsey, can you still sing? Can you sing a Cole Porter song “Everytime We Say Goodbye?” We’ve got this character whose never actually said anything on the show. He’s Krusty the Clown’s sideshow, we call him Sideshow Bob, and we want him to speak finally, and we thought you should do it.'
Kelsey Grammer agreed to voice the character, and thought it was very funny after he read the script. The character was so cultured that he decided to use a voice that he had catalogued years ago from before he had become a successful actor.
I had logged away a voice years ago, from when I worked for a man named Ellis Rabb. When I was working for him I was painting his bathroom and hanging wallpaper, stuff like that, Ellis would regale me with these stories when he came home from work always, and he’d say things like, 'Oooooh Kelsey, that baby should have been mine.' And I thought, 'this guy…I’m gonna use him someday.'
So, there you have it! Sideshow Bob is in part based on a real person’s voice. If you’d like to hear Kelsey Grammer recount the story himself in his soothing voice, then check out the clip from The Graham Norton Show below.
The Simpsons will return in the fall for its 28th season, so stay tuned to Cinema Blend for all your Simpsons updates.