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Spongebob Speaks


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Tom Kenny might not look familiar, but anyone under 10 years old should be hip to his alter ego: SpongeBob SquarePants. Kenny, who’s been the voice of SpongeBob since 1999, visits the East Bay this month as a special guest at the second annual Danville International Children’s Film Festival.

Q: How does your 7-year-old son feel about his dad being SpongeBob?
A: He loves it. He sees the reaction it gets from his classmates. Kids don’t just like the SpongeBob show, it really means something to them. It’s kind of neat to do something that kids really, really like.

Q: Do people ask you to record their answering machine greetings as SpongeBob?
A: Every day. I just did that for someone today.

Q: You do more voices than SpongeBob, right?
A: Yes. Today I worked on three different shows for three very different age groups: Handy Manny, SpongeBob, and My Gym Partner Is a Monkey. I’m also working on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and I do the Penguin for the Batman cartoon.

Q: What did you think of the controversial comments James Dobson made about SpongeBob’s appearance in an elementary school tolerance video?
A: I guess I felt a little sorry for anyone who seems to be afraid of diversity, or so fearful of anyone who doesn’t follow lockstep with their views. I was puzzled, and saddened, that tolerance would be labeled as ‘insidious’. As a parent of a public-schooler, I think tolerance is a good thing for our kids to know about. The only reaction I got from people on the street was disbelief that people would think that way.

Q: Does your family watch SpongeBob together?
A: Once in awhile, we’ll catch it if it’s on. But the TV is rarely on in our house.

The Danville International Children’s Film Festival runs May 20–22. For more information, visit www.dicff.org.—P.C.

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