You may not know his name, but you know Tim Kitzrow. If you spent hours as a kid playing NBA Jam, MLB Slugfest, NFL Blitz, or a myriad of other games, the soundtrack was provided by Kitzrow, whose voice has become as iconic as the number of catchphrases that originated from those games.
Next up for Mr. Boomshakalaka is providing commentary for Mutant League Football, a reboot of the 1993 game. We spoke to Kitzrow about his newest video game voice over role and how being trained in improv has helped him in his career. Oh, and of course, we asked him about NBA Jam, and got him to put his own spin on things that have occurred in the NBA this season.
UPROXX: So you have done voiceovers for a whole bunch of different games; which one was your favorite to do?
Tim Kitzrow: Well I’ve been telling people this a lot, and they always think it’s going to be NBA Jam — which I absolutely love. But it was actually Slugfest, because the fun of doing commentary for a baseball game, where there are longer segments to really create more dialogue, and it was one of the first games where we were able to stitch dialogue together that, if a play happened, you could come back and pick up the dialogue.
We did 30- to 60-second comedy kind of improvs at the beginning of the game while the game is loading, and since I went to Second City and knew this great talent here in Chicago, Kevin Matthews, who was a radio icon for 17 years in Chicago — he came up on the stand up circuit with Seinfeld and all those guys, so he’s a real talent. I was always just in awe of him, and when I got to the point of doing the game, they said “Who do you wanna work with?” Which was a great thing, they’re asking me who I wanna work with and I brought him in. Are you familiar with Slugfest at all?
Yes, I am.
So he had this great alter ego, Jimmy Short. “I just wanna beat you over the head with a folding chair, you get me so aggravated, Tim, I wanna take a dirt nap right here in the booth.” We were able to play and basically, it felt more like I was writing a comedy series, a sitcom or something, rather than just barking out one liners.
But other than that, the EA version of NBA Jam was my favorite because they gave me free reign to write the script and, instead of it just being the one liners, the superlatives from the first one. There was a lot more meat and a lot more fun to develop more crazy one-liners, like “Rummaging through your girlfriend’s top dresser drawer, he finds nothing but nylon, kaboom!” and “Like your momma wearing latex pants, that dunk was tight!” It gave me some more range and was more like being the SportsCenter highlights guy, as opposed to just a video arcade carnival barker.