Are you ready for the biggest birthday celebration on television? Nickelodeon will air “SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout” this Friday, July 12th. The episode will celebrate twenty years of the classic cartoon, SpongeBob SquarePants.
You know their voices, but now it’s time to see their faces. This birthday episode will not only be special for fans, but for the cast of the series as well because they got to trade in the recording booth for a diner set. The main cast – Tom Kenny (SpongeBob), Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick Star), Rodger Bumpass (Squidward), Carolyn Lawrence (Sandy Cheeks), Clancy Brown (Mr. Krabs) and Mr. Lawrence (Plankton) – will appear in the episode as human counterparts to their characters from under the sea. Kenny, who usually directs the voice-acting sessions in addition to playing the lovable sponge, describes the episode, “The voice actors are all playing surface-world doppelgängers of their animated characters. SpongeBob and Patrick come up above the sea and go to a diner that’s very much like the Krusty Krab, but not quite and there’s a human spazzy guy behind the counter that’s almost like SpongeBob, but not quite, and a mean boss like Mr. Krabs and a doofus customer that’s kind of like Patrick. It’s really fun.”
While SpongeBob SquarePants has toyed with animation before, the show hasn’t done anything this drastic. Mr. Lawrence, who is also a story editor and writer on the show, said, “We wanted to do something special for the 20th anniversary, and we asked ourselves, ‘What haven’t we done yet? Where haven’t we gone?’ This particular idea of everyone on camera playing themselves was something we’d thought about before. I think people will appreciate this even if you don’t know the show really well. It will be a nice surprise that no one will be expecting.”
Kenny wasn’t the only actor having fun (aka F.U.N. in Bikini Bottom) on set. Brown referred to the live-action shoot as “a little window into our recording sessions. We’re having a ton of fun.” Fagerbakke admitted while it was amusing it could be odd as well, “It would be less bizarre if we’d only been doing this for a year or two, but we’ve been doing this for 20 years, and for me, to be looking in the face of the actor who’s the voice of the character, it was very peculiar, and I was really tickled. Clancy [Brown] could not stop calling Rodger ‘Squidward,’ because that’s who he’s been talking to for 20 years. But instead it was Rodger playing a human version of Squidward. So yeah, there were all kinds of interesting scenarios.”
Most shows could never make it twenty years without tiring; most shows couldn’t make it twenty years on the air at all. However, the energetic sponge shows no signs of slowing down. In addition to the SpongeBob SquarePants television series, a third feature film (The SpongeBob Movie: It’s a Wonderful Sponge) will be released in 2020 and Nickelodeon recently greenlit a prequel series, Kamp Koral.
Twenty years is impressive to say the least. The longevity of the show proves it is still resonating with people. Mr. Lawrence assures fans that the show will stay on as long as it brings a smile to fans’ faces, “At the 10-year mark, we were like, ‘This is already crazy. We did a show for the 10th anniversary, and we thought, ‘Alright, time’s up soon. It’s going to be done.’ But people keep discovering it. As long as they keep discovering it, we’ll be here.”
“SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout” premieres at 7 p.m. on July 12th on Nickelodeon.