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