Some time ago, the people of America unanimously christened Morgan Freeman as the voice of God. But let’s pretend God has a sense of humor. If that’s the case, the good Lord is more likely to sound like H. Jon Benjamin, whose natural bass and bravado carry two of today’s best animated sitcoms. As both the bumbling patty-flipper Bob Belcher on Fox’s Bob’s Burgers and superspy playboy Sterling Archer on FX’s Archer, Benjamin waxes and wanes from irrational and elated to irritated and antagonistic without breaking a sweat. And the guy would be just fine if his shows lasted longer than The Simpsons. “I’m not sure what the goal is before I take off from this Earth, but I’m not very self-motivated,” he says. “This is a job I can easily do sitting.”
The sixth season of Bob’s Burgers premieres this month. As the show’s title sequence reminds us, Bob is constantly down on his luck. Has playing such a tragic character turned you into a pessimist?
It’s funny, because I view him differently. I’m always surprised by how well-balanced Bob is about losing all the time. He is not a dark character. Despite his hard times, he’s a real optimist. You don’t see much optimism on TV these days.
Both your shows have been nominated for Emmys and have huge fan bases. Can you order a pizza without being recognized?
I can order pizza pretty peacefully. A Delta Air Lines rep once recognized me and was psyched about it, but that’s truly the end of that story. Voice actors don’t make people swoon. It’s more a mild “That’s cool.”
Last year you did a hilarious voice-over of 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL 9000 that went viral. Is there any prose you can’t make funny? Maybe Mein Kampf? It would bum out a few people, but I think some would find it funny. I’m Jewish, so I can do that.
Is your ideal woman more like Archer’s baby mama Lana, voiced by Aisha Tyler, or Bob’s wife, Linda, voiced by a man?
Oh my God, Lana. In real life I hate Linda. She’s a big mess. Lana has baggage but is smart and accomplished, though she would never be with me. I couldn’t keep up. I’m way too short.