Friday, 5 October 2012

Chapter One - Eric Cartman

The story begins in the small offices of a recruitment company in Harrow in the late 1990s. I received an unsolicited email, and back then receiving any email meant that you had truly arrived - in fact Spam was still thought of as a canned meat and the inspiration for a Monty Python song. If you don't know it, it goes "Spam spam spam spam..and so on". Actually, it might not be so SEO friendly to keep writing that word, so I'll stop. Back to the story and naturally, I opened the mail.

What was presented was a flash animation that someone had created. the whole thing must have been around 100k in memory, so I set it to download and went to put the kettle on. When I returned, there was an image of a fat little boy in a red top and a blue bobble hat who then broke into a very unflattering song about someone called Kyle's Mom. 

I thought it was quite funny, but also thought little more of it. I chuckled inwardly - it was an open plan office - and went on about my day. Months later and Channel 4 ran a trailer for a new cartoon series coming to Friday nights called  South Park and naturally, I recognised one of the characters straight away.

Friday nights were a gathering at my place back then. Good TV, mind altering cigarettes and Doritos were the order of the day. And so South Park began and the little fat boy in the blue hat started talking to his friends and without even blinking, I copied him, much to the delight and amazement of my friends.

Well this continued for a little while until someone asked me the question that was to change everything. "Who else can you do?" he asked. Well I had always played around with voices, in fact in my college play I portrayed 14 different characters, all with different regional accents, but I had never really thought about it. Voices were just something I had always done.

Turned out that I 'did' a lot of people, mostly cartoon characters, and it was suggested to me that I might be able to do something with that skill. So I recorded some voices and built a rather crude website. All graphics, little text, it's little wonder that no search engine ever found it, but back then the shed that housed Google had not yet even been built!

Well I put myself out there and waited. And waited. And waited some more. As for what happened next, well in the interests of turning this into a series, I'll leave that for next time.

Cartman continues to be one of my favourite voices to do. I don't remember who sent me that mail or why, but if you're reading this then I would like to thank you. That one, seemingly insignificant act changed the course of my life forever.

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