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Mad Libs Dialogue is the practice of recording lines with certain parts missing (often numbers and names of people, places or teams) and later filling them in appropriately with separate recordings. For example, a Madden NFL announcer may comment (the bracketed words represent spliced-in dialog):

"The [Jets] are leading the [Bears] [fourteen] to [thirteen] here in the [third quarter]."

By doing this, the developers can have the voice actor just record the one line and have the game fill in as needed. This technique saves space and time, and is necessary in situations in which numerous combinations of subjects may exist. You can't have a sports announcer record every single combination of scores in a basketball game, for example.

If it's done well, this effect is hardly noticeable. If it's done badly, half-second delays are created and the differences in voice tone and pitch become apparent. As a result, it becomes painfully obvious that multiple recordings are being used.

Essentially the spoken version of Multiple Choice Form Letter or Hello, Insert Name Here. Also see Paused Interrupt. Unrelated to Mad Libs Catchphrase.

Examples of Mad Libs Dialogue include:


Advertising

  • This ad for tax resolution company Blue Tax does this very blatantly with its phone number. Seriously, they couldn't get the voice actor to just read the number in a single go?
    • That's because they air the commercial during different time slots with different numbers for each one. That way, the execs can track which numbers get the most response and gauge the effectiveness of the advertising.


Anime

  • This is used in the English dub of Digimon, when the Digimon call their names and attacks. This becomes obvious in an episode of Adventure 02, where Flamedramon uses his signature move, Fire Rocket, but instead of calling his attack, he says his name ("Flamedramon! The fire of courage!").


Live Action TV

  • Back during the Israeli-Hezbollah War during summer 2006, one of the reporters on The Daily Show read a "report" on the war. About a minute in, Jon Stewart interupted her, saying that it sounded a lot like the Yom Kippur War. She looked down and said something along the lines of, "Oops, I left the words in from the last time! So...country, Israel [writes Israel down], other country...well...Hezbollah [writes Hezbollah down]...year....2006...president...George W. Bush..." Then, when she's done, she tells Jon Stewart that *all* the reporters use them, and they are called "War Libs" (or something like that).
  • Used in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode Overdrawn at the Memory Bank. Mike and the bots are so dissatisfied with the film that they call its customer service hotline. They get a pre-recorded message, where every mention of the film's name is obviously spliced in. "Thank you for calling the... Overdrawn at the Memory Bank... customer service center."
  • One episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had Bulk and Skull doing a video project for class. However, Skull's inept editing skills resulted in Bulk "saying" Mad Libs Dialogue like "I have no class" and "Mrs. Appleby can't teach", to the amusement of their classmates.
  • Parodied in a sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look, where three billionaires attempt to give away prizes by phone, only to have everyone hang up on them because their voices all sound like pre-recorded announcements.

  Your telephone number has been specially selected in our [Wednesday] draw!

 Leslie: [imitating computer voice] Because of a local disaster, you, [Andy Dwyer], must go to the evacuation center at [Pawnee City Hall].

  • Parodied in The IT Crowd when Jen calls up a different IT support call centre and mistakes the person who answers the phone for a recording.


New Media

  • Any Youtube Poop video based on sentence mixing is sure to use this heavily, but with a little effort the end product can sound surprisingly fluid.
  • Musician George Hrab parodied this trope in his video produced for the Atheist Community of Topeka.
  • Not the MOST popular fad on YTMND but...


Radio


Video Games

  • Many WWE wrestling games use this. The most Egregious example is the infamously bad commentary of Smackdown! Just Bring It, which featured Michael Cole saying things like This [Singles] match will be an important match!" and "[The Undertaker] executes a perfect [The Last Ride]!".
  • WWE Crush Hour, a Vehicular Combat game sponsored by the WWE, is notorious for having horrible Mad Libs Dialogue from Jim Ross. The most famous piece is his emphasis on "THE TWISTY ROCKETS!"
  • Justified in Half Life, where it was used for a computerized PA system. The pauses and mismatched words made it sound more real, rather than less real as in most examples of this trope.
    • There's actually a ton of words in the PA system that aren't ever used in the game. It's mildly amusing to hear Black Mesa's PA system talking about Ass Whiskey.
    • The HEV Suit in both the first and the second game also talks kind of like this. "Morphine. Administered." "Seek. Medical. Attention."
    • This was then played with in Portal.

 GLaDOS: "Unbelievable! You, SUBJECT NAME HERE, must be the pride of SUBJECT HOMETOWN HERE."

    • This system is also used much less believably for the HECU soldiers' dialogue.
  • In Freddi Fish 2, a randomly generated combination ends up read as, "The combination is Two. Two. Seven."
    • Actually, this was a problem with many Humongous Entertainment games, including Backyard Sports and Spy Fox.
  • Eternal Darkness has the entire game change based on which of three gods the villain aligns himself with initially, so multiple playthroughs will end up with different gods being named during random conversations.
  • The Adventure Game version of Where In Time is Carmen Sandiego? features a level in the ancient Incan empire, where a man reads off numbers from a type of counting board. The numbers are constructed out of Mad Libs, but the correct answers to the puzzles have separate voice recordings, so it always sounds right.
  • Freelancer uses this one to generate the dialog of every non-storyline NPC. It causes a rather jarring effect if your computer is slow, as the cuts in the dialog are immediately evident.
  • The X-Universe games also creates voice dialogue on the fly for spaceships (virtually all of them). It's always noticeable, unfortunately, because whoever spoke the lines gave the wrong intonations for many of the words, so a sentence sounds like it's over when it's not, and words at the end of the sentence sometimes sound like they indicate the sentence isn't finished yet.
  • Averted by the game Theme Hospital, where the Announcer gets a separate line of speech for every single announcement in the game with no Mad Libs, even when you might reasonably expect them (for example, the emergencies have a separate "staff announcement" for each disease). This makes the speech seem a lot more natural (although given the Announcer's strong Esturine accent, it's still pretty annoying...).
  • Used to a particularly jarring degree in the earliest JumpStart games from the mid '90s. The developers appear to have been banking on kids not noticing.
  • Much like Madden NFL, the FIFA Football [soccer] series does this. Usually using real match commentators.
    • The FIFA ones get very obvious in high-scoring games. It's pretty rubbish to hear John Motson waffling on about "an exciting game" because they couldn't get him to record numbers greater than five for the scorelines... In a possible Lampshade Hanging, Motson in one of the earlier FIFA games says "I think we'll need a calculator."
    • The FIFA series has become significantly better about this since about FIFA '08, as improved data management techniques have allowed them to squeeze much more commentary samples onto the discs, allowing details of scorelines up to about 10-0 or so, and featuring a decent amount of club and player specific lines for most of the world's major teams.
    • The FIFA games have become quite advanced with this, as the commentators will now voice displeasure on misconduct and overly-violent tackles, talk about player histories and string together clichés in a pretty remarkable simulation of the real thing. It still gets annoying hearing Andy Gray saying what the best players do with chances, though.
  • Some military-simulation games use this, with varying rates of success. For example, flight-sims such as Total Air War have aircrews using stock dialog spliced together, which have obvious gaps... but since the reports need to be stated clearly, it comes off as the airmen taking their time to ensure their message is clear and concise, and doesn't seem out of place. Operation Flashpoint, on the other hand...

 "OH NO! Six. IS DOWN!"

    • You can hear it firsthand in this video. Somehow, the radio communications are even more robotic in the sequels (Armed Assault and ArmA 2).
      • After the falling out with the publisher of OFP, the developer just didn't have enough of a budget for hiring enough voice actors to voice 'generic' lines (i.e., combat chatter), so they chose to stick to what had made the OFP series stand out among other games — namely, the idea of hyper-realism. Note, however, that there are a few actual conversations in the games that are recorded normally, and the number of such conversations increases with each new game/expansion.
    • Similarly, there is an addon called VoxATC to Microsoft Flight Simulator that works as an air traffic control and even understands standard pilot lingo spoken in this way.
    • In Ace Combat 04, AWACS SkyEye's combat dialogue is like this, for example "<Rigley Air Base>, at vector <3><6><0>, <4 miles>." Everything said in this manner is said in the same tone, however, and excluding short pauses after the target's name, it sounds perfectly natural.
  • Done well in Soul Calibur 2. Soul Calibur 3, however, speed up the announcer, turning "Astaroth Versus Talim... Fight!" into "ASTAROTVERSUTALIMFIGHT!"

 "[Round loser] ...was seriously wounded, but the Soul still burns."

"This victory strengthens the Soul of... [Match winner]!"

    • Before that, the original Soul Edge also did it:

 "The grueling battle ended with the victory of [winner]!"

"[Loser] stood an end against an impossible enemy!"

    • Completely averted in IV, where the victory messages have been narrowed down to a handful of Captain Obvious lines to save on budget.
  • Mario Tennis for the Nintendo 64 did this when Mario is announcing the player names (for the characters imported from the GBC version, he says "Guest" in place of the actual names you give them).
  • A very interesting non-voice version of this is in Chrono Cross. Because there are Loads and Loads of Characters, and many characters have their own VerbalTics, the side character dialogue was dynamically "tinkered" with for each character, allowing some to call the Silent Protagonist "Sergey", "Mister S", "Sir Serge", etc., and others to drop their g's, add a lisp, or speak all in capitals. Although this generally was pretty good, there were a few goofs where you might have two apostrophes in a row, for example, or a name that ended in two Y's, or a name that just didn't work with a Y at the end (Franco turning into Francoy, for example).
  • Another non-voice version occurs in Tales of Symphonia. At the colosseum, the announcer will refer to you as "[contestant] the '[title]'!". This works flawlessly in almost all cases, but has the notable exception of "Lloyd the 'Aargh Me Hearties'!"
  • In the Parappa the Rapper games, you are encouraged to "freestyle" lines in the songs to get more points. Because of the way the lines are cut apart so that each word corresponds to a button press, attempting to "freestyle" often leads to this trope. In fact, simply playing the game as intended can sound like this trope.
  • Jen Taylor lends her voice to the X Box Live version of One Versus a Hundred, announcing how many of the mob is left and the answers the One chose. Unlike Chris Cashman, who does live announcing, Taylor's lines are prerecorded. It's typically done well, but it sometimes slips into "The One has eliminated [Eight] opponents. It's now One versus [Sixty] [Three].".
  • Speaking of Jen Taylor, she also voiced Sunny Day in the Backyard Sports games, who uses this trope (sometimes jarringly). Sunny's partners, however, avert this hard.
  • Used in Super Smash Bros, particularly in Classic Mode where the announcer tells the player who they'll be fighting next. However, the splicing is quite obvious in some places. For example: "[Luigi?] [versus] [Metaaall] [ZERO SUIT SAMUS]"
  • An old edutainment game called Little Howie's Fun House (both the Great Math Adventure and the Great Word Adventure) had this that varies from being handled well to being painfully obvious. The game asks the player to give Howie their name and age, however, as the entire game is voiced, it's very easy to see how this can go wrong so instead of refer you by name (which only appears on text items like certificates and progress reports and anything else generally not read out loud), you have to pick a "really cool nickname" from a list of pre-set names (such as Angel, Stinky, Pinapplehead, etc.) which all the characters will call you and will insert in their conversation through this trope whenever they refer to you.
  • In Thief II: The Metal Age, the Steampunk guard robots' lines are stitched together from a set of pre-recorded phrases. "Be notified, thou... I have... not determined... visual indications."
  • The AFL video games are terrible at this. Any time a player's name or a stat is brought up, there is a distinct pause, and usually a change in tone of the commentator's voice.
  • The X-Men arcade game: aside from Magneto's infamous line "Welcome... to die!", actual examples of the trope are found in such phrases as "[I] [KILL you!] [X-Chicken!]" Even grammatically correct sentences come off sounding noticably splied together, such as "You are [DEAD!]"
  • Another infamous example comes from the awful SNES game Mario's Early Years (found here). The horrible abuse of Mad Libs Dialogue is the main reason people hate it.
  • Tonka Construction: examples can be found in this video.
  • Done by the announcers in Pokémon Stadium, Stadium 2, and Battle Revolution, the latter in which this trope is particularly noticeable.
  • The PC game Stay Tooned contains a Mortal Kombat parody. During this game, an announcer yells the names of the characters fighting.

  Announcer: Tai Chi Chisel. Versus. Kung Fu Frank. (evil laugh)

  • The Super Jeopardy! game on the NES contains this:

  Announcer: For [TWO] [hundred] points, the answer is...

  • Psychonauts: When you are not talking to Boyd, he rambles on about connections to his conspiracy theory. It's done very well and most people have to listen for a while before they figure out it's a bunch of quotes randomly strung together.
    • Although his insane mannerisms do help to camoflage the splices.
  • Punch Out has an accidental example in Super Macho Man. He calls his attacks with Surfer Dude lingo, but only finishes the phrase if they connect. If he misses, the phrase is interrupted with his disappointed interjection. Popular phrases resulting from this include "Release the...Bogus." and "Crunch...Dude?"
  • The original World Series Baseball for the Sega Genesis went to the absolute extreme with this. Virtually every single word was spliced. "[Welcome] [to] [the] [game] [between] [the] [Dodgers] [and] [the] [Cubs.] [The] [Cubs] [take the field!]"

Western Animation

  • Parodied on Futurama in the episode I Dated a Robot, when Fry downloads a copy of Lucy Liu into a robot body. The robot's dialog is smooth, except when customization is necessary: "You are one sexy man, PHILIP J. FRY."
    • "I'll always remember you, Fry MEMORY DELETED"
    • "It's amazing the way you NOTICED TWO THINGS."
    • "Oh Fry... I love you more than the moon, and the stars, and the POETIC IMAGE NUMBER 37 NOT FOUND"
    • "You should write a book, Fry. People need to know about the CAN EAT MORE"
  • The South Park episode "The Return of Chef". Since Isaac Hayes had left the show, all of Chef's dialogue was spliced together from old episodes. The interesting part was that It was intentionally spliced together badly (and hilariously) to show that he was brainwashed, and spliced together well when he was snapped out of it.
    • I wanna MAKE LOVE TOo ya AASSholes, chil'ren!
  • The Simpsons loves to parody this trope.
    • From the stock corporate video shown at camp in Kamp Krusty:

  Krusty: Krusty can't be here right now, so allow me to introduce you to my friend, [Mister Black.] I want you to treat [Mister Black.] with the same respect you'd give me. Now here's [Mister Black.]

    • From Sunday, Cruddy Sunday:

 Homer: Hey, Moe, you wanna come with me and Wally to the Super Bowl?

Moe: Oh, absolutely! My favorite team's in it! The ... (obscures mouth with mug) Atlanta Falcons.

Homer: Yeah, they're good, but I wouldn't count out the... (obscures mouth with mug) Denver Broncos.

Wally: Yeah, I hear that President ... (mug) Clinton is gonna be watching with his wife... (mug) Hillary.

      • Fridge Brilliance in that: Not only were the teams dubbed in, but the name of the president and his wife. This makes more sense when you consider that the episode's production schedule coincided with the Clinton impeachment trial. At the time of its airing in January 1999, a verdict had not been reached. Just imagine if he had been convicted:

 Wally: Yeah, I hear that President ... (mug) Gore is gonna be watching with his wife... (mug) Tipper.

    • From "The City of New York VS Homer Simpson"

  Voice: Thank you for calling the parking violations bureau. To plead not guilty, press one now. (Homer dials 1) Thank you. Your plea has been [Rejected.] You will be assessed the full fine plus a small [Large lateness fee.] Please wait by your vehicle between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. for parking officer Steve [Grabowski.]

  • On The Venture Brothers, the Guild of Calamitous Intent's video invite to Dr. Orpheus does in hilariously inept fashion: Watch and Ward are reading a scripted skit "personalized" by periodically inserting the recipient's name... by means of awkward pauses where an obviously different speaker announces "Dr. Orpheus and team" in a polite monotone while Watch and Ward cover their mouths with their hands to hide lip movements (or the lack thereof).
  • Invader Zim gave us ADHESIVE MEDICAL STRIPS (bacon scented!) from the Door to Door episode.


Real Life

  • The DMV waiting room. [NOW]...[serving]...[number]..[B]...[eighty]...[four].
  • It causes some amusement on commuter rail networks the world over. Some railway announcements fit this to a T, with recordings of real voices: The next train to arrive on platform [TWO] is the [FOURTEEN] [THIRTY TWO] [SOUTH WEST TRAINS] service to [PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR] calling at [BEDHAMPTON] [HILSEA] [FRATTON] [PORTSMOUTH AND SOUTHSEA] [AND] [PORTSMOUTH HARBOUR]. One of the operators on train ones are funnier, with identical inflections on each word, but like you'd expect at the end of a sentence.
    • In particular, the announcer seems to linger over the stop of "Rrrrowlands Castle".
  • Automated phone systems in general. Speaking, in, sentences strung together, from, a bank of pre-recorded phrases, often leads to, unusual grammar. It's also odd when the mood and intonation of the samples mean they don't gel together. Following Vodaphone UK's system to pay a bill, the voice gets progressively harsher, as if you've personally annoyed her, and returns to base pleasantness an option later.
    • Orange have recently adopted a new system, which is a much better simulation of human speech — and thus slams headfirst into the Uncanny Valley. Really doesn't help that it's kind of a sexy voice...
    • Parodied in 3rd Rock from the Sun, with the communicator giving different patterns for both the hour and minute, when the group was going to be recalled.
  • Answering machines (anyone remember those?) often use this trope when telling the time and date. "[Sunday] [Two] [Oh] [Eight] [P.M]."
    • Some (specifically those with "Answer On/Off" buttons) even go beyond: "Answering... machine... off. Answering... machine... on," or "Press. One. To play. Messages."
    • Some clocks for the blind work like this as well: "*short jingle* IT'S [ONE] [P.M.] *another jingle*"
  • This is how commercial GPS voice navigation works. Actors and actresses record a surprisingly short list of phrases, which is then cut up into parts (a word or two each, usually, but also single syllables for forming street names) and recombined as needed.
  • At Giant (a grocery store) some branches have kiosks that can be used to order from the deli. You can wait for it while you shop, and it is announced over the intercom: "Deli kiosk order, Thirty, One, is ready for pickup at your convenience. Thank you." Sometimes more than one is ready at once, often in sequential order: "Deli kiosk orders, Thirty, Thirty, One, Thirty, Two, are ready for pickup at your convenience. Thank you."
  • In airports radio communications, there's the ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service), a continuous stream of information regarding operational info for take-off/landing, as well as weather, visibility, etc. Like this: "La Guardia Airport, Information [Alpha], Main landing runway [18] [Left], Transition level [50], Visibility [13] [kilometers], Temperature [23], End of information [Alpha].
  • Some varieties of talking crosswalks use this, saying "[street name] Walk sign is on." when the light changes.
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