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Mike Judge Interview in “Vice”

Mike Judge

Mike Judge sits down for an interview in the latest issue of Vice. Judge talks openly about the whys and hows of the Beavis and Butt-Head revival. The interviewer Rocco Castoro also asks some unconventional questions, like this memorable exchange:

I noticed that the show’s logo now says “Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head” rather than “MTV’s.” I feel like I’ve seen it this way on the DVD boxes of the old episodes, but it was surprising to see that it was going to carry over to TV. Got any good dirt on this subtle but important change?

When [my relationship with MTV] began, I had these two two-minute shorts with Beavis and Butt-Head that I licensed to Liquid Television. Then MTV wanted to buy the characters from me–they didn’t say what exactly they wanted to do with them–and so I negotiated for a while and thought, “It takes six to eight weeks to do two minutes when I do everything by myself,” and I was kind of done. I’d produced two shorts and made a few thousand off of them selling them to festivals and Liquid Television, but that was it and I was a nobody at the time. So I sold it to them outright, and then they wanted me to do the show so I ended up getting paid that way. But at some point they decided, “We’re gonna call it MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head.” I was like, “Really? I created this in my house with pencil and paper and cels and film and… MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head? But whatever, you own it, that’s fine.” Years later the movie came out and they wanted a sequel. I was unhappy with some stuff, and I just did a fuck-you negotiation with them [laughs]. At one point my lawyer said, “You want to ask them to call it Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head?” and I said, “Yeah, go for it.” I kind of forgot that we agreed to that, and then when we were redesigning the logo I was like “Wow, OK.” Normally I wouldn’t splash my name all over something, but if it’s between MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head or Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head, I’ll take it.

  • Great interview!
    I had mentioned in passing that pretty much my whole family (Mom, Dad, two younger brothers) like “Beavis and Butthead” and it definitely had a big impact on me growing up. (as well as all those Nickelodeon cartoons and having a Dad would play Nirvana and Soundgarden around the house ^^) We used to have for the longest time a taped copy of “Beavis and Butthead Do America” and the videos they showed in between the episodes were a real eye-opener. I think when they were commenting on “Prison Sex” by Tool, it was the first Tool video I saw or remember seeing. It was until much later when I was teenager that the things they said and stuff they did became more relevant and I understood the jokes. To this day, I can’t say ‘unit’ without giggling a little. :)

  • spur

    I really like Judge, he’s just a regular guy and seems to be extremely humble, despite all of the success he’s had.

  • The fact that the show is mocking MTV shows now kind of makes sense that it’s “Mike Judge’s” B&B and not “MTV’s” B&B.

    Judge was on the Late Show not too long ago also; he really enjoys his work and knows that he has lots of ideas to work with before he becomes unable to actually pull of their voices.

  • Given how much success he’s had, and how much his comedy is about making fun of people’s stupidity, I’m constantly amazed at what a friendly, down-to-earth guy Mike Judge seems to be in interviews. Such a class act.

    I haven’t gotten to see the new Beavis and Butt-head yet, but I’m looking forward to doing so. I just got the first two seasons of King of the Hill on DVD, and I’m re-discovering how brilliant that show is. This man has really created a huge body of consistently great work.

    BTW, I find it absolutely hilarious that the interview ends where it does.

  • John Andrews

    The story of why it became “MTV’s” Beavis & Butt-Head is interesting. There was someone who had a toy they were selling through maybe Spencer Gifts or some other chain called “Butt-Head”. It was a plastic statue of a guy with a butt for a head. Anyway, I think the guy threatened a law-suit if MTV called their show just Beavis & Butt-Head, claiming some sort of ownership of the term Butt-Head as a commercial IP. So MTV added their letters to the show title to differentiate it, since part of his claim was that people could become confused about whether MTV’s show involved his Butt-Head. I don’t think he had to be paid off or anything. My recollection is that the network just added the “MTV’s” to cover itself. It was not, by the way, to make a point that they owned the IP, although they in fact did own it. They bought it from Mike and he participates in the profits from merchandising. There were, by the way, from time to time discussions at MTV about whether the show could go on without Mike if he were to leave, but happily MTV never went there, since they understood that a good relationship with Mike long-term was the best way to assure the life of the brand.

  • Bob Haper

    He puts into real terms why some of us don’t mind selling our rights to produce a show. I really admire Mike, and as a Texan I find King of the Hill painfully funny and true.

  • Arthur F.

    Judge seems alot like the tone of his characters for the most part, calm but gets to the point as well. Very King of the Hill like. I enjoyed the interview, but wonder about the “Dariah” part — again that whole ownership of character part I guess he didn’t appreciate in the end results of the Dariah show. But that he really wants to return Dariah into the B’s world, I’ll be curious how that one goes. Watching now a few of the new episodes, I like them, but there is this other sense of pacing and darker tone to them, left over from the earlier version, that stands out to me today. It’s not really “laughs” as much as observational comedy almost, so very different in regards to the tempo and jokes of tv animation expectations today.

  • What’s in a name?


    When RIPPING FRIENDS was first aired posters appeared all over downtown Toronto pitching the show. They read, “From The Creator Of Ren & Stimpy.”

    They should have read, “From John Kricfalusi, the Creator Of Ren & Stimpy.”

    Kudos to Mike for getting his name back on his work.

    Can you imagine the music industry pitching new albums as “From The Musician(s) Who Brought You ‘Let It Be’?”

    Keep your name on your work.

    • Michael F.

      Reminds me of lots of Judd Apatow-related movies. They always say “from the guy/guys who brought you Superbad/Knocked Up/40-Year-Old Virgin/etc.”