Actor Joseph Christof Disberger talks with About Insider
HI JOSEPH! TELL US BRIEFLY ABOUT YOURSELF?
My name is Joseph Christof Disberger. I am originally born in Greeley, Colorado and I lived in Kansas for 10 years. I make films, music, I am an actor, voice actor, puppeteer, and other than those weird little quirky things that I’ve got going on, I might be what you would call your all American boy next-door. I have been performing, acting, entertaining, and making films for the last 18 years. I have done more theatrical performances more than I have film but I moved to California to pursue more film and I certainly look forward to my future opportunities.
AT WHAT AGE DID YOU REALIZE THAT YOU WANT TO JOIN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?
As long as I can remember, I wanted to be in the entertainment industry. My mom would say I am a born entertainer. When I was a little baby/toddler, I would dance to the Old Navy commercials on the television set in the living room. Somewhere there is a photo of me dancing in my diaper with a juice cup in one of my hands. She used to tell me all the time that she thought I would grow up to be a famous producer… I suppose we will find out if that is true in the near future.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BECOME INVOLVED IN VOICE-OVER WORK?
I was born in Colorado and we moved to Kansas. The move to Kansas was really difficult for me. I was a very outgoing child and I was friends with everyone and when my family and I moved… no one knew who I was. It really crushed my ego and I became very insecure and shy. I spent four years where I found it really difficult to make friends. I found a recorder in a utility room and I put batteries in it and I cleared its SD card. I began to make my own recordings of “Radio Shows” and I would record one side of a phone call and I played back and I would talk to it. That is kind of how I started playing with voices and playing with other characters and just going back-and-forth with the voices. It really became a safe place for me. I was able to develop characters rather quickly.
COULD YOU SPEAK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE PROCESS OF CREATING PUPPET CHARACTERS?
The process of creating a character sometimes comes from a dream and I will immediately wake up and sketch it out on a piece of paper and/or I make the design on my iPad then I make the pattern from scratch. I start with building a foam base for the skull. Sometimes there are mechanisms in the headpiece for the eyes. I then go and make a pattern from a thin piece of cloth, I like to use bedding or old t-shirts to make the patterns, from there I take that pattern and use either Antron Fleece or Faux Fur to bring the character to life. I sew all my characters by hand. The process to build one of these characters can be anywhere from two weeks to two months… three months… six months… whatever it takes.
SHARE A MEMORABLE STORY ABOUT PUPPETRY IN YOUR LIFE.
When I first started doing puppets I was 9 years old, I didn’t let anyone know that I wanted to pursue puppetry because it was really different than what most kids my age were doing and I just did it in my bedroom. I remember just taking my little handheld camera and setting it up, hitting the record button, and just doing puppet shows for myself. I would work pretty hard on doing impressions of people, cartoons, and of course the Muppets. I would work really hard at developing the characters. I would sit in front of my mirror trying to get the lip-synch down for the characters with my hand. I would open and close my hand at the same time as I would talk. I practiced singing and saying the ABC’s to see where the difference was in all of the vowels. After a while, I started posting progress pictures of my characters on social media and as I started putting it out on social media I started gaining followers. Then some professional puppeteers started following me, then the Muppets started following me, then we started talking, and I got a call from some of guys one day and they invited me down toa workshop. I met some of the Muppet guys then and we filmed a little show while I was down there. That was a very special time for me and I learned a lot. We’re still working together and train pretty often.
IS THERE A PARTICULAR GENRE OR THEME YOU ESPECIALLY LIKE TO WORK IN AND WHY?
When it comes to acting, I’ve got a knack for comedic timing. That is something that I like to play; however, I would like to get into some more serious and dramatic roles. If I could really show that side of me… that would really be terrific. I can really tune into the emotional side of acting. I do have a film coming out soon. It is in post production right now. It is called “The Xenophobes” it is sci-fi film and I got to play character that got to see a little bit of my comedic side but at the same time so some some dramatic intense acting and I really did enjoy that I like true stories I like learning about history teaching about history and I really like to focus on The topic of mental health mental illness and helping people understand that better ask for puppets pups are grateful for comedy pups are also great tool for teaching people puppets can say things that we can’t and so I like to take advantage of that opportunity and help people through them sometimes so whether that be comedy whether that be tackling a serious topic like you’re a equal rights with that be some thing like depression anxiety suicide whether that be discussing something such as divorce something along the lines of death is there all serious things that are made it easier to discuss to some extent with puppets.
WHAT ARE YOUR BEST PROJECTS TO DATE AS AN ACTOR AND A VOICEOVER ARTIST?
I have some very exciting projects coming out soon and in the works. There are three things in particular that I am most excited about. I’ve got a movie coming out I believe in 2022 called “The Xenophobes” and I play the inexperienced Private Gustaaf (Gus) Davenport. One of my favorite elements about this film is that it is one of the first science fiction feature films to deal realistically with time dilation in the context of interstellar travel.That’s why 60 years have passed when Jerusalem (a government spaceship with astronauts) returns to Earth and everything’s changed. The whole World has become xenophobic. There is no violence, the World’s governments have become united, and the astronauts who came back are very alienated from the rest of humankind and are put in quarantine. Someone from earth ends up starting a revolution and breaks into a military base. That happens to be my costar, Charles Ryan Sutterlin, and I end up having to shoot him and everyone else at the climax of the film… that’s probably my favorite part! I am also working on a cartoon animation with Universal and I voice a character named Thumpy the Bunny. I am incredibly excited to play this silly character. This story follows the good bunny and the bad bunny on a rambunctious adventure with the assistance of my costar, Maximilian Acevedo. Definitely, an action-packed adventure comedy with wonderful music. I really do look forward to seeing the final product. I also have a terrific opportunity on Broadway coming up in August, something to keep you all updated on.
WAS THERE EVER A TIME WHEN YOU THOUGHT ABOUT DOING SOMETHING ELSE?
I joke about becoming a barber a lot because I like to cut hair but my life has always revolved around art and entertainment. When I was younger I was kind of dubbed a prodigy in music and dance. I did that for awhile and I toured around Colorado. Sometimes you can get worn out… you become depressed and you just need a break. Other times you feel like you just cannot do it. What people think of you can get to you sometimes and it can cause you to want to be done. Every time I tried quitting, which I tried quitting the entertainment industry three times and it always came back to slap me in the face in the best way possible with really great opportunities, I always had a great group of people around me supporting me and lifting me up and encouraging me to pursue my dreams. Now I am working on a lot of really great projects, I got the attention of the Muppets, I got some projects going with Universal, and I have a really great opportunity coming up this August for a new Broadway show. Whether I have tried to quit or if I have thought about doing something else, I always hold out until tomorrow morning and tomorrow always brings a bigger and brighter opportunity. At the end of the day, I really love what I do.
WHAT’S SOMETHING WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT MIGHT SURPRISE US?
Usually when people find out I am a puppeteer, people tend to find that pretty surprising as is but if there was something else that people might find surprising… in Kansas there’s not a whole lot of opportunity for film and entertainment so I ended up creating my own opportunities. I started my own production company and I would go around pitching my ideas to companies for commercials, ads, and marketing plans. I learned the business side of everything and started becoming rather successful in that field making ads and commercials. My brother also started a marketing company that we work together in called Purple Marketing Consulting. We are still pursuing that today and it has been a wonderful and humbling experience. Every day is a learning experience but I think knowing the business aspect of everything and being able to tune in to that creative side is a really great factor. I am also working on my own children’s book series that focuses on mental health. The goal is to help teach kids how to verbalize how they feel as opposed to showing it physically. I want to address topics such as depression, anxiety, and even suicide… but when I tell parents that, sometimes they freak out and they say, “Look I don’t want my kid being exposed to something like that at such a young age,” but what I think they do not realize is they are giving their children phones, they are putting them in public schools, they are putting them in groups… which are all great things and necessary things but their children are being exposed there. I believe in our day in age, it is important to equip children with factual and necessary information in order to combat misinformation about those topics. We don’t want to blow things out of portion either, it’s very important that children and adults know and understand that mental health is a very real thing. It is important that children as well as adults know how to deal with it and handle it as well as talk about it. I have partnered with a counselor and a Sesame Street Director on making children’s books and I look forward to sharing them with the World.
DO YOU HAVE ANY INTERESTING PROJECTS COMING UP?
I have some very exciting projects coming out soon and in the works. There are three things in particular that I am most excited about. I’ve got a movie coming out I believe in 2022 called “The Xenophobes” and I play the inexperienced Private Gustaaf (Gus) Davenport. One of my favorite elements about this film is that it is one of the first science fiction feature films to deal realistically with time dilation in the context of interstellar travel.That’s why 60 years have passed when Jerusalem (a government spaceship with astronauts) returns to Earth and everything’s changed. The whole World has become xenophobic. There is no violence, the World’s governments have become united, and the astronauts who came back are very alienated from the rest of humankind and are put in quarantine. Someone from earth ends up starting a revolution and breaks into a military base. That happens to be my costar, Charles Ryan Sutterlin, and I end up having to shoot him and everyone else at the climax of the film… that’s probably my favorite part! I am also working on a cartoon animation with Universal and I voice a character named Thumpy the Bunny. I am incredibly excited to play this silly character. This story follows the good bunny and the bad bunny on a rambunctious adventure with the assistance of my costar, Maximilian Acevedo. Definitely an action packed adventure comedy with wonderful music. I really do look forward to seeing the final product. I also have a terrific opportunity on Broadway coming up in August, something to keep you all updated on.
IS THERE ANY ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO SOMEONE WANTING TO ENTER THIS FIELD?
If I had to give someone who wanted to pursue the arts and entertainment industry advice, be prepared to bump into a lot of people who tell you, “What you’re doing is ridiculous…” “You’ll never make it…” “You’re not talented…” “You’re not a good actor…” and know that often times when someone tells you these type of phrases, they are speaking from their own failures that they gave up from. You are also going to run into a lot of people along the way who will love and support you. You are going to have a lot of dreams and goals that bounce back-and-forth. Being in this industry, you will learn a lot about yourself and you will grow as an individual. People often talk about how there is such a small percentage of people who actually make it; you know what, that small percentage of people took risks, lost a lot, and maybe even hit rock bottom a couple times but they all got back up and kept pushing forward to tomorrow. If you have a passion and a burning desire to pursue your dream, I really encourage you to keep going even on the hard days… even when you lose everything… there will always be big risks that you have to take. In-short, stay true to yourself, stay true to your dream, know your boundaries, love greatly, take risks, be open minded, stay humble, be helpful, know that it is not about you, do not act like you belong but act like you want to belong, and remember that your perspective on life is the key to your success.
To know more about Joseph Christof Disberger don’t forget to follow him on Instagram @Joseph.christof.disberger, LinkedIn: @JosephDisberger, YouTube: @JosephChristofDisberger and Facebook: @joseph.christof.disberger