We met the voice behind Mario – and you can too!

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CharlesMartinet

The fine folks from Core – The official South African Distributer of all things Nintendo – invited us round for a meet-and-greet with Charles Martinet, the voice of gaming’s most recognisable icon, Mario.

In the short time I spent in the his company I realised that Martinet – Ebullient, enthusiastic and effervescent – is Mario. Regaling the serendipitous tale of how he came to be associated with the world’s most famous plumber, Martinet comes across with such charm and eminent likeability

A friend convinced him to crash an audition for an electronics trade show – much to his bemusement – and he was asked to perform the voice of a plumber from Brooklyn. “And I’m like, are you kidding me? An Italian plumber from Brooklyn?” Martinet chided. “‘Hey! Howya doin’? I’m undah yer sink, don’t botha me heah,’ he recounted in a stereotypical Bronx accent. Too coarse and gritty for children though!

“So I’m sitting there thinking about what to do, and all of a sudden I hear, ‘Action!'” he continued. “And I turned to the camera, and I said — in the iconic voice that you hear in Mario games today — ‘Hello! I’m-a Mario! Okie Dokie! Let’s make a pizza pie together! You go get some sausage, I’m-a gonna get some spaghetti, we’re gonna put the spaghetti and sausage in the pizza then I’m-a gonna chase you with the pizza and then you chase me with the pizza and if you catch me with the pizza we gonna make-a lasagna and spaghetti and meatball…’ And I just… I don’t know what I said. I just kept talking in the accent,” reminiscent of his portrayal of Gremio in the Taming Of The Shrew, “until I heard ‘Cut! Stop! The tape’s run out.”

“Thank you, we’ll be in touch,” he remembers hearing while being ushered out the door. Expecting to not get the job, it turns out his audition was the only one sent through – and that, as they say, was that. Martinet has been voicing some of our favourite characters for 20 years now; and i certainly hope he’ll be doing so for at least 20 more.

Gavin’s already mentioned how Martinet reckons that South Africa is the most wonderful place on Earth – and while it may just be lip service, his unbridled enthusiasm leads me to believe he’s being sincere. He’s such a nice guy – and it was an absolute pleasure to have met him.

You can meet him too – as he’ll be doing a few public signings while he’s here. Here’s where you can find him :

Friday 13 August

Look and Listen, Fourways Crossing  – 12:00 and 14:00.

Saturday 14 August

CNA, Sandton City Shopping Centre, Sandton – From 10:30 12:30

Sunday 15 August

Nintendo Kiosk, Canal Walk Shopping Centre, Cape Town – 11:00 -13:00

Core also told us that they’ll be launching a website during the course of this week that’ll allow you to create your own e-greetings using Mario audio-snippets – but we’ll let you know more about that once it goes live. In the meantime, keep your eyes set on www.voiceofmario.co.za

Once again, thanks to Core for  organising and hosting this opportunity to meet one of the most entertaining people in videogaming.

Last Updated: August 11, 2010

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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