Carolyn Lawrence & Rodger Bumpass Interview: Kamp Koral SpongeBob’s Under Years
The SpongeBob SquarePants universe continues its underwater expansion, with the return of Nickelodeon's Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years on September 30. The original series was created in 1999 by Stephen Hillenburg, but it's only recently that the highly successful franchise has grown to include sister shows. Fellow fledgling series The Patrick Star Show has also been renewed for a second season, but first, it's Kamp Koral's time to shine.SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY
Kamp Koral introduces audiences to younger versions of all their favorite characters, using the same voice actors as the original series. At 10 years old, SpongeBob SquarePants spends his summer at Lake Yuckymuck's Kamp Koral with all his friends, where they go on the wildest adventures together. The show stars Tom Kenny as SpongeBob, Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick, Rodger Bumpass as Squidward, Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs, Carolyn Lawrence as Sandy, and Mr. Lawrence as Plankton.
Related: What To Expect From SpongeBob SquarePants Prequel, Kamp Koral
Screen Rant spoke to voice actors Bumpass and Lawrence about how they enter the minds of young Squidward and Sandy respectively, what the biggest shifts are between SpongeBob proper and Kamp Koral, as well as how they're adjusting to all the new ripples that the pineapple under the sea has to offer.
Squidward & Sandy Talk Kamp Koral
SpongeBob has been going and going on its own but, in the last couple of years, we've suddenly got Kamp Koral and The Patrick Starr Show proliferating. What has that change been like for you?
Rodger Bumpass: More work. [Laughs] More delightful work and more exploration; more acting exercises and just more advanced fun for everybody. That's all I can say.
Carolyn Lawrence: I agree 100% It was really interesting, because when everything was shutting down and everything was feeling rather bleak, we were so blessed to have these new things to play with. I feel selfish that during such a difficult time on so many levels—I had both my kids home, I was trying to school them—we were trying to record shows. And it was all crazy, with the dogs barking and mayhem, but it was such a blessing to have something new to dive into and something so exciting going on. Hopefully it gave the fans something too.
Rodger Bumpass: It was a wonderful bit of serendipity as far as technology goes, because we were able to continue by working from home with eight-second commutes. Only a year or two before that, it would have been totally impractical technologically, but everything came along at just the right time for us to continue our work from garages and back rooms.
Carolyn Lawrence: And closets!
We are getting more naive and innocent versions of your characters in Kamp Koral. What has it been like for both of you to access your younger selves? How different is that process?
Carolyn Lawrence: I feel like it is different. I have to remember Sandy's innocence, like you said. I have to remember her braces, and I have to dive into that separate part of her. Honestly, we record so many different shows now that I need somebody to remind me from time to time who I am.
Rodger Bumpass: And I'm very jealous of Carolyn, because her younger character has braces. And it really establishes that younger character so much better, whereas I don't have anything different except raising my voice and sounding a little more innocent. I'm still the same person. I'm still crabby already as a teenager. I need an appliance to help me make that character; Squidward needs braces. That's what it is.
Carolyn Lawrence: We should do one where he gets them. He tries to play clarinet, but they get in the way.
Rodger Bumpass: No, he's actually better at the clarinet because of the braces.
Was there a time when he too was just happy-go-lucky, do you think? Will we get to see him as such?
Rodger Bumpass: That's an interesting question, because it opens up something. Maybe he was this innocent, wonderful, joyful character and then something dark happened. That moment that he never forgot. It's a plot point for a future episode, I do believe.
Carolyn Lawrence: I like that. Something to explore!
I was gonna say it could be the next spinoff idea. Do you ever have any ideas for Sandy or Squidward shows percolating?
Carolyn Lawrence: Honestly, I feel so blessed that we're here at all.
Rodger Bumpass: Yeah, absolutely. I'm not gonna rock the boat. If you want to come, fine. I'm okay for it. What I do want is an extension of our live-action show that we did. It was such a Twilight Zone moment.
I love that Kamp Koral has expanded on newer characters, such as the Narwhals. Can you talk about getting to explore newer dynamics with your characters after so many years?
Carolyn Lawrence: It's always fun having new relationships. Those are new characters that we see more consistently, but even when people guest on the show, it's always a good time. We get that new energy and new relationships going.
Rodger Bumpass: It is very interesting. The writers are very creative in bringing in new character nuances, so it's not just a smaller version of the known characters. It's a new world in a familiar universe, and the actors doing the voices are wonderful auditions. It's a joy to have that freshness and newness to explore with our characters.
Carolyn Lawrence: Carlos [Alazraqui] and Kate [Higgins] are amazing. It's fun after so long, because we're such a set group. We've been together 20 some years, and Carlos has guested before but Kate's a new addition. It's fun to bring people in that feel like they belong.
Rodger Bumpass: The Patrick Show also the wonderful, exceedingly talented Tom Wilson, who was Biff in Back To The Future. I adore Tom Wilson; he's very talented. And that adds a new aspect to that show. Both of the new shows have these new characters that you could explore and latch onto, just like the audiences did with the regular characters. It's well thought out, and I commend everybody involved.
For the next batch of episodes specifically, is there anything that each of you is most excited for fans to see? Or anything that you can tease that you think has been long-awaited?
Carolyn Lawrence: We know something now! We just learned that there's a new crossover, "The Tidal Zone."
Rodger Bumpass: We just learned about it, actually. We're excited, because it's something new.
There's also going to be a new video game, SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake. Have you guys already started work on that, and how different is video game voice acting for you?
Carolyn Lawrence: Video games are interesting because pre-COVID, we all recorded together like a play. We're all in the room together, we play together, and it's super fun. But with video games, you only do your work by yourself. It's a different experience, and there's not any play back and forth. They're really intense.
Rodger Bumpass: Video games are tough to do; they really are especially. Ours are relatively easy, because we're just doing our known characters, and there's not a whole lot of different stuff that we require. But if you're doing a combat thing, you've got to do all versions of combat and death. It just wrecks your throat for about two months afterwards, so I'd rather not do those things anymore. Except for SpongeBob games.
Carolyn Lawrence: I played Ashley Graham in Resident Evil, and I want her to come back at some point because everybody likes to kill her. I was like, "Can she ever stand up for herself?"
Rodger Bumpass: I've always had a problem with video games. I would do a character, and then I couldn't get to the level my character appeared. I had to go out and hire a 12-year-old.
About Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years
Nickelodeon’s Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years follows a 10-year-old SpongeBob SquarePants and his pals as they spend their summer building underwater campfires, catching wild jellyfish, and swimming in Lake Yuckymuck at the craziest camp in the kelp forest, Kamp Koral. This new batch of episodes features Sandy’s first-ever karate chop, the Flying Dutchman’s first fright, and even a visit from Patrick’s dad!
New episodes of Kamp Koral: SpongeBob's Under Years premiere on Paramount+ on Friday, September 30.