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Oldsmar company teams up with Jerky Boys creator for iPhone apps

Tampa software engineer David Rajala teases his finger across the screen of his Apple iPhone.

A couple of taps on the plastic and out blurts the voice of obnoxious New Yorker Frank Rizzo: "I didn't call you. Get off the phone, idiot."

Inner Four, Rajala's mobile software company based in Oldsmar, has produced three hit iPhone applications that have attracted millions of users.

But they are tame compared to his two latest apps featuring the Jerky Boys, sharp-tongued prank phone call characters created by New York's Johnny Brennan.

The Jerky Boys Prank Caller and The Jerky Boys Pinball feature Brennan in improvisational mode. Aside from Rizzo the R-rated put-down king, Brennan recorded the voices of two other alter egos, elderly hypochondriac Sol Rosenberg and effeminate hair stylist Jack Tors.

After downloading the 99-cent pinball app, players are coaxed and taunted through games that include virtual balls, flippers and bumpers. The $1.99 prank call app is a comedy smorgasbord. Let's just say your voice mail greeting will never be the same.

"It's awesome to bring the Jerky Boys front and center like they used to be," said Brennan, who sold millions of copies of his routines in the 1990s. "I haven't put out a CD for 10 years. It's a way to make these things come alive again."

Rajala and business partner John Swartz, former employees of Clearwater's Tech Data, made a splash starting in 2009 with jokey novelty apps. One was a fake thumbprint reader. Another, called Mirror Free, was an empty black screen rimmed by a changeable picture frame. Stare hard enough and you'll catch your reflection. It took less than a day to produce. Apple users have rewarded it with 2.8 million hits.

Enter Marshall Berle. He's comedian Milton Berle's nephew and a successful agent and producer. His acts have included comedian George Carlin and the rock band Van Halen. He also happens to represent Brennan.

Berle called Rajala and pitched him on the app idea. Rajala, a Jerky Boys fan, was hooked. Inner Four put many of its 15 employees to work on the project from an office cluttered with toy robots, fake Star Wars light sabers and Homer Simpson shot glasses. It took several months. Brennan recorded his lines from his home studio in New York, in between doing voice-overs for the Fox Network cartoon The Family Guy. Apple approved the apps for sale on March 5.

Rajala is betting that millions of iPhone and iPod Touch users will enjoy a helping of brash Jerky Boys attitude. Inner Four and Brennan will share the profits.

"Johnny's fans have been starving for new content for a long time," Rajala said.

Oldsmar company teams up with Jerky Boys creator for iPhone apps 03/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, March 11, 2010 9:24pm]
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