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The Rhythm of Speech

by Jeremy Butler

The performance of dialogue is affected by the rhythm of the speech. Bob Newhart’s trademark of halting, interrupted speech signifies his characters’ lack of confidence (in The Bob Newhart Show [1972–78] and Newhart [1982–90).Peter Falk’s slow delivery of crime scene analysis in Columbo (1971–77) masks his quick and clever deductive skills. Lauren Graham’s rapid-fire delivery of dialogue in Gilmore Girls marks her quirky spunkiness. In each case the rhythm of the vocal performance conveys meaning to the viewer.

Newhart was particularly known for, and had achieved success early in his career doing, telephone monologues. The producers of The Bob Newhart Show consequently often worked phone conversations into its episodes--as can be seen here.

Vocal Rhythm in "The Bob Newhart Show"

Bob Newhart's comic performance was often based on a halting vocal rhythm.

from The Bob Newhart Show (1973)
Creator: MTM Enterprises
Posted by Jeremy Butler
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