- none, oddly (but, then, it is past sleeping time)
Cross-posted from a (friends-locked) discussion on how US accents sound to non-US people, because I'm interested in further input, especially from those whom I purport to represent herein (and apologies if I have misrepresented you in doing so).
I would guess that since most of the American we hear is from movies based in either New York, Washington DC or California, the 'standard' American accent is deemed to be whichever one of those is on at the time. Certainly, when called upon to perform an American accent, most New Zealanders I know will probably hit somewhere around LA, but with a curious over-rounding of certain vowels: New Zealanders pronounce 'car' as 'kaa', not 'kar', but this leads to the over-insertion of Rs in unexpected and random places (like 'farther' instead of 'father') when putting on an American accent.
We read the same things, I think, into the Surfer Dude and Valley Girl accents, but there are some wider regional ones, I think, which are possibly less conscious? I base this list on my experience as an actor working in a company of improvisers who are constantly called upon to provide a variety of accents to portray certain character types, often in a shorthand or caricatured fashion. (Warning: some of these might sound slightly racist or offensive, for which I apologise profusely, but this is just my thoughts on the way these accents are perceived and the associations they entail.)
- TEXAS: redneck, racist, bible belt, oil tycoon
- ALABAMA: inbreeding, banjo-playing
- MINNESOTA: slightly kitschy, family oriented, slow-witted but big-hearted
- BOSTON: slightly quirky (viz., every Tom Hanks character ever, even the ones not from Boston)
- CHICAGO: 1930s gangster
- BROOKLYN: wise guy (seldom distinguished from CHICAGO)
- QUEENS: Fran Drescher
- NEW YORK JEWISH: New York Jewish
- GEORGIA, KENTUCKY: Southern Belle type, or wealthy bourbon drinker, depending on gender.
- MAINE: Rural type. Possibly about to die horribly.
I think this is most of the ones I would hear being used on a semi-regular basis, apart from GENERICAN, which is the above mentioned pseudo-LA accent. Sometimes we will do entire scenes in GENERICAN for no particular reason (and to the consternation of the Artistic Director). Other times, we will do scenes in our natural New Zealand accents, and a GENERICAN-speaker will crop up. When this happens, they are usually either some kind of rich, successful, famous person, a shifty snake-oil merchant, or THE VILLAIN OMG, in much the same way that many American movies and TV shows seem to use generic (and often awful) English accents to indicate varying degrees of oafishness or perfidy.
Last year I was cast in Catch-22, and had 5 roles. The easiest place for me to start was to pick five different accents, but in case this is interesting:
- CLEVINGER (cynical, agitated, resigned to his fate): Boston
- TOWSER (office lackey): Minnesota
- FIRST DOCTOR (neurotic, ambitious): New York
- FIRST INVESTIGATING OFFICER (cold, manipulative, evil): Ostensibly Kentucky. Actually, kind of a cross between Christopher Walken and Brian Cox, if you can imagine that.
- SECOND M.P. (blindly militaristic, mildly thuggish): Alabama (N.B. I think I had a total of two lines as this character, one of which was almost certainly "SIR, YES SIR")