Twist to park life

You don’t know his face but you’ve heard his voice, writes Terry Morrow of Scripps Howard News

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - SATURDAY EXTRA -

TOM Kenny is a man of a thou­sand voices – or so it seems. Best known as the man be­hind

SpongeBob SquarePants, Kenny’s tone has been all over tele­vi­sion – from the nar­ra­tor of The Powerpuff Girls to Rocko’s Mod­ern

Life and, now, Brick­le­berry – air­ing on Amer­ica’s Com­edy Chan­nel and per­haps the most-adult car­toon he’s done.

As ranger Woody, Kenny plays a buf­foon who over­sees the shenani­gans of men, women and beasts at a na­tional park.

Brick­le­berry isn’t ex­actly Yogi Bear: The plots are usu­ally highly sex­ual and ju­ve­nile, be­fit­ting the tra­di­tional col­legeage crowd drawn to the se­ries each week.

‘‘ Brick­le­berry is def­i­nitely for an older au­di­ence for me,’’ Kenny says. ‘‘You can see what kinds of au­di­ences I reach – my preschool (car­toon shows), my Adult Swim shows are for older (view­ers) than that, and then there’s Brick­le­berry.’’

Comedian Daniel Rosh ( Tosh.0) is one of the pro­duc­ers and plays tiny bear Mal­loy, who is Woody’s big­gest foil.

Mar­ried with two chil­dren, Kenny has been the voice of dozens of char­ac­ters in more than 200 pro­duc­tions. Cur­rent TV projects also in­clude Green Lan­tern, The An­noy­ing Orange Show, Ad­ven­ture Time, Ul­ti­mate Spi­der-Man and an up­com­ing preschool se­ries for Dis­ney.

‘‘Be­ing a voice ac­tor is this weird thing. It’s like be­ing half a celebrity and half not,’’ he says.

He takes pride in the fact that he’s enough of a celebrity to have his death re­ported on Twit­ter re­cently.

‘‘I guess it take a cer­tain level (of celebrity) to have that hap­pen,’’ he dead­pans.

A na­tive of East Syra­cuse, New York, Kenny loved read­ing comics and draw­ing when he was a child. He was a comedian early in his ca­reer and made the rounds on late-night ca­ble shows. Along the way, Kenny was cast do­ing voices on car­toon projects.

From there, the work on the an­i­mated side of his re­sume in­creased as his standup work dwin­dled.

Kenny has been star­ring in SpongeBob since 1999. And think­ing of Kenny as that char­ac­ter isn’t such a stretch. Call­ing late for his in­ter­view, the mild-man­nered Kenny apol­o­gises over and over.

When he’s re­minded that he’s SpongeBob, so re­peated apolo­gies are not needed, he replies, ‘‘SpongeBob can get away with what­ever he wants to. Me? I have to toe the line.’’

Spongebob SquarePants: Daily, var­i­ous times, Nick­elodeon, Seven, Prime7

Brick­le­berry: Com­ing in 2013.

Spongebob and al­ter ego Tom Kenny; (be­low) and Brick­le­berry.

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