Since debuting back in 1999, I think it’s safe to say that SpongeBob SquarePants has become the corporate mascot for Nickelodeon much in the same way as Bugs Bunny for Warner Bros. or Mickey Mouse for Disney. Spawning countless media tie-ins and expanding into two spinoff series, the franchise shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Fans can look forward to “The Tidal Zone,” an upcoming one-hour special encompassing all three animated series within the SpongeBob Universe, SpongeBob SquarePants, the Paramount+ original series Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years and The Patrick Star Show. Originally slated to premiere this month, the special has been rescheduled for sometime in the first quarter 2023.

At NYCC last month, The Beat had the chance to sit down with SpongeBob SquarePants co-executive producers Vincent Waller and Marc Ceccarelli as well as voice actors Bill Fagerbakke (Patrick) Jill Talley (Squidina Star and various), and Dana Snyder (GrandPat) discuss the experience working on the show as well as what’s to come including teases for the 25th anniversary in 2024!

Taimur Dar: During lockdown I got really into Monty Python and it dawned on me that the stream-of-consciousness flow of the sketches very much informs The Patrick Show. But is it safe to say even from the very beginning that Monty Python influenced SpongeBob and still continues?

Marc Ceccarelli: Definitely. Most of our writers are guys in their ‘40s and ‘50s. That’s the stuff that we grew up on.

Vincent Waller: It’s the show that I watched with a blanket over my head because my Jehovah’s Witness mother was sleeping 4-feet away and she could not know what I was watching

Ceccarelli: I know Steve was really into the show too and it was one of his influences.

Dar: How did the “Tidal Zone” crossover develop?

Ceccarelli: We were in a unique situation where we had three shows going simultaneously with characters across the shows. So we thought it would be a great opportunity while we’re producing all three shows to do some sort of crossover.

Waller: We’ve constantly gotten fans saying, “When are you going to do a crossover with Fairly Oddparents?” Steve Hillenburg always said, “That’s never going to happen!” This one felt like we could actually cross paths.

Bill Fagerbakke: That was always a hideous thing on live-action. Every once in awhile the networks would do a crossover between the different shows. We did one on Coach and it was just so lumpy. We went to Vegas to shoot it and one of the other show’s stars didn’t want to come down to the set so we had to rewrite it on the fly.

Jill Talley: Those things always feel very forced because they don’t belong together.

Waller: It’s a pleasure to see GrandPat rolling through Kamp Koral!

Dana Snyder: It is the Sponge-verse!

Dar: Obviously you’ve been recording the show remotely during the pandemic. Are you still recording remotely or have you been able to go into the studio?

Snyder: I’m the least involved with all of this so I have only dealt with these people through Zoom. I didn’t know they had legs. I barely knew they had hands! I didn’t know if I was in some fever dream hooked up to tubes like in The Matrix or something.

Fagerbakke: You thought I was 5’7”!


Snyder: I’ve met them all twice in person. At the Rose Bowl and here. It’s very strange to be part of this amazing thing. I’m a tiny, weird part of it. But it’s all been on Zoom for me. I have not had years of knowing everyone. But all these guys are so nice that they make feel like I’ve been brought into the fold.

Waller: That said, we love them when they’re in an ensemble. And if you’ve ever seen them working you’ll see why we love them when they’re actually in the same room with each other. One day you’ll get to experience it!

Fagerbakke: One thing that’s been helpful for the Zoom process is our session director [and the voice of SpongeBob] Tom Kenny. You have this person so ingrained into every fiber of this show. It’s not stagnant because otherwise you have to create in your head what’s happening. So you still have that flow of interaction. I miss being with my fellow actors because all that feeds what you’re doing.

Nickelodeon SpongeBob SquarePantsDar: On the animation side, I love the use of mixed media which like I mentioned before is very Monty Python-esque. A recent episode of The Patrick Star Show had musician Bootsy Collins appear in live-action.

Fagerbakke: That was such a great episode! I just watched it the other night. It’s hilarious.

Waller: Bootsy was in Atlanta and we were in Los Angeles. Tom [Kenny] was directing him but some other guy was holding the phone that Tom was talking to who would then say the things to Bootsy. It all worked out really nice.

Dar: I also love when the actors appear in live-action segments like having Bill Fagerbakke as a cave man. Dana, you’ve done on-camera work so I’m curious would you be game to do anything live-action for SpongeBob?

Snyder: Running around in a rag with no shoes carrying a club? Who am I to say no? I do whatever they tell me!


Dar: I’ve only recently noticed the timelessness of SpongeBob largely due to the lack of modern conveniences that don’t date the show. Episodes from 20 years ago still hold up incredibly well today. Is that an intentional aspect for the storytelling for SpongeBob?

Waller: We try. Shellphones have slipped in but only because it’s a play on words that makes it fun.

Ceccarelli: We tend to stay away from current pop culture references. We’ll make sort of veiled references to things that are so old that they become kind of timeless.

Talley: The thing is that SpongeBob is timeless. So if you put in references that are of a specific time in pop culture then you are going to date this thing. Like you said, you can watch this anytime down the line.

Ceccarelli: It works with the concept of Bikini Bottom being a cargo hub where it’s all these old objects that have floated to the bottom of the ocean.

Dar: What have been the highlights in your career working on SpongeBob?

Waller: For Marc and I, it’s been from Season 10 forward that we’ve been calling the shots. It opened up a lot of new roads. It used to be if you were away from SpongeBob for more than two scenes people would go, “Where’s SpongeBob?” We realized after all these years the entire cast all has [a] following. The very first one was “Mall Girl Pearl” where we literally just had SpongeBob going through the background in a shot following Squidward. That was a gift that we let us do that. It’s not that we want to do things without SpongeBob but it’s nice to have some moments where the other guys and gals get to shine.

Talley: In the Broadway show where Squidward has a bit dance number, the audience went so crazy. And you realize they have been watching this wannabe star have his moment and everybody loves him. It was such a great feeling that they really love this character.

Waller: And then of course we tell them that it’s just a dream!


Dar: You’ve pretty much have a set established cast but it’s great to see actors come into the fold like not only Dana but also others like Kate Higgins and Carlos Alazraqui. Even The Simpsons in the last few years has been bringing in new actors to play regular reoccurring roles. Can you talk about bringing in new talent to play in the pool?

Waller: Recently Gary Anthony Williams has been added as our manager character.

Snyder: Like I said, it feels like I won the lottery. I remember moving to L.A. and thinking, “Maybe one day I’ll be in a Tidy Cats commercial but you’re not touching SpongeBob!” I remember that Tom called me and told me I was in the running for GrandPat. It’s all been a gift. Every day is Thanksgiving!”

Talley: Is this a bad time to tell you that your character has been killed off?


Dar: Finally, looking forward into the future for 2023 and beyond what can you tease fans?

Snyder: Look for action and adventure.

Fagerbakke: Romance!

Waller:  On Kamp Koral we had the crash cart derby which I loved doing.

Ceccarelli: In a couple of years it’s going to be SpongeBob’s 25th anniversary and we’ve already started developing stuff for that.

Dar: I gotta ask how are you guys topping the 20th anniversary?

Waller:  We can’t say anything but there will be a lot of cool special stuff.

Dar: Now I can’t wait for that in 2024!