Mike Judge

Active - 1996 - 2021  |   Born - Oct 17, 1962 in Guayaquil, Ecuador  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography by Lucia Bozzola

A former engineer, Mike Judge achieved animation renown for his dead-on idiot savant satire of American suburban teen culture in the MTV phenomenon Beavis and Butt-Head.

Born in Ecuador and raised in Albuquerque, NM, Judge got a degree in physics at U.C. San Diego. Relocating to Texas, Judge worked as an engineer and also tried to forge a career as a musician, but found that animation was his preferred calling. After a Dallas animation festival, Judge's 1991 short Office Space was picked up by Comedy Central. His 1992 short Frog Baseball, featuring two sadistic teen cretins voiced by Judge, subsequently led to a 1993 MTV animated series revolving around the heavy metal-loving adolescents Beavis and Butthead.

Anchored by the pair's witty critiques of music videos ("this blows, huh-huh-huh"), Beavis and Butt-Head attracted devout fans with its astutely low-brow take on the teen boy culture of raging hormones, loud music, fast food, and pyromania. Despite fierce criticism of its overt idiocy and a 1993 scandal involving its influence on a fire-setting viewer, Beavis and Butt-Head ran for several years, spawning lucrative merchandising and Judge's first big-screen feature, Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996). Judge branched out into network TV in 1997 with Fox's popular, Emmy-nominated animated comedy series King of the Hill, featuring executive producer Judge as the voice of laconic Texas propane salesman and family man Hank Hill.

Bringing his sweetly jaundiced view of American suburbia to live-action film, Judge expanded his early short into the full-length feature Office Space (1999). Humorously chronicling the myriad forms of office cubicle and chain-restaurant hell, with visually clever detours into the suburban white male affection for gangsta rap, Office Space wickedly celebrated one man's revolt against 1990s corporate culture and became a small hit.

Despite his initial success with live action, Judge became somewhat dormant as a writer-director of feature films in the years following Office Space's initial release. Over the next decade, Judge continued his work with small-screen animation via King of the Hill, and made vocal contributions to the outrageously tasteless yet intelligent blockbuster South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999). He nonetheless remained conspicuously absent from megaplexes for almost a decade, which made Office Space cultists increasingly impatient for a follow-up to that earlier hit. It eventually arrived in the form of 2006's Idiocracy -- a satirical sci-fi comedy produced for Fox Searchlight that Judge scripted along with Etan Cohen, whom he had previously worked with on Beavis and Butt-Head and King of the Hill. In the film, the U.S. military recruits the "most average man in the Army" (Luke Wilson) to take part in a secret experiment in which he will be cryogenically frozen for one year. He wakes up 500 years later to find out that he was forgotten about when the base closed; now in the year 2505, he discovers that he is the most intelligent person on Earth, as society has been dumbed down to the point where a former porn star/wrestler is the President of the Unites States.

In summer 2009, Judge released his next live-action feature film, Extract, starring Jason Bateman as the owner of a flavor-extract manufacturing company who struggles with his factory workers and dreams of selling off his business -- a reversal of the dynamic and setting of his previous workplace comedy Office Space, wherein cubicle drones dream of rebellion against their insufferable boss and corporate overlords. Extract also featured Mila Kunis, Ben Affleck, Gene Simmons, Kristen Wiig, among others. Shortly thereafter, Judge wrapped up his long-running King of the Hill series after completing its 13th season.

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  • Born in Ecuador, where his father, an archaeologist, worked at the time; his family eventually settled in Albuquerque, NM.
  • Worked as an electrical engineer after college, but after a few years quit the profession to become a full-time musician.
  • Inspired by the cartoons he saw at a 1990 Dallas animation festival to make his own.
  • MTV hired him to create the series Beavis and Butt-Head after seeing his fourth animated effort, "Frog Baseball."  
  • Modeled the voices of Beavis and Butt-Head after Mick Jagger and Keith Richards.
  • King of the Hill is partly based on his experiences living in a Dallas suburb after college.
  • Likes to surf.