Rodger Bumpass and Carolyn Lawrence voice the beloved characters of Squidward and Sandy in Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, which is the first original spinoff of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants. The series was recently picked up for a second season. New episodes are now streaming on Paramount+.
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.
To start, we discussed the camp setting, which leads to very fun themes for our favorite characters. “I seem to remember the writers talking about this, they focused a little more on antics as opposed to verbal dialogue scenes, and so we’re emphasizing the childlike activities, fun, and exploration of the kids at a camp,” Rodger Bumpass explained to me. “So I think it works in that environment particularly well. There’s not a whole lot of verbiage going on there.”
Carolyn Lawrence added, “I also think it’s fun that it’s CG now, and so the camera can move differently and you feel like you’re in the world in a different way. After playing so many years, it’s neat to see new things about the character that we didn’t even know, like when they write things, you know, ‘oh, right, that’s where Sandy did that,’ or ‘oh, that was her first experience with karate.’ Those kinds of things are exciting to us too after so long that it’s still fresh.”
“The idea of origin is an important part of Kamp Koral,” Bumpass continued. “It gives a sense of continuity to the viewer that knows the first show. So I think it’s a great little prologue to the entire SpongeBob universe.”
Origin stories are especially fascinating when the original, older characters have been around for so long on television. They opened up about the little easter eggs that have been thrown in to pay tribute to SpongeBob SquarePants.
“I always try to find little origin things that we can throw in and Stephen gave me a long time ago, whenever Squidward is humming, he goes, ‘la da dee, la da dum, la da doo,’ and I faithfully do that anytime I’m humming,” the voice actor revealed. “So there’s a character in Kamp Koral that is a snooty waiter of the rich cabin, Regigille, and I had him hum that particular thing, knowing that the Kamp Koral Squidward admired the sophistication of Regigille. So that was my idea that that’s how he got that imitation of this sophisticated person he met as a kid. So sometimes we get those little easter eggs in there. I love them.”
Lawrence agreed before opening up about a fun moment she got to do: taking to Sandy’s younger version. “It was fun to be able to have me talk to me, Sandy talk to Sandy,” the actress expressed. “In real life, it’d be amazing if I could go back and give some advice to the younger me. “
Even after voicing these characters for so long, it was still a huge challenge to bring them to life at a younger age. “It was very challenging at first because you wanted to get it right. You didn’t want to do like the Muppet Babies kind of thing, you want to do it just a little younger,” Bumpass said. “The natural thing is, of course, just to raise the voice a little bit, but there’s an attitude. There’s an innocence, a lack of worldly knowledge that you have to show that developed into our known characters as adults and that was an acting exercise. I must say it was challenging.”
“So my first thought was fear because I didn’t want to mess it up. I didn’t want to be the one who blew it,” Lawrence shared in regards to how she first reacted to the idea. “It’s been really fun to play them in that arena.”
Lastly, we spoke about the legacy of SpongeBob SquarePants and if they had any idea when they got started how truly iconic the show would become. “There’s very little that one can say when you think of how it started and what it became, an American and even a global, iconic type of show. I have a collection at home of comic strips in newspapers that mention SpongeBob and it’s amazing how many of those things there are. But to be a part of a legacy like this is a dream come true. It is the best of all worlds for me and I know it is for the other cast members,” Bumpass answered.
“Yeah, it’s hard for me to even comprehend. I’ll be honest, it’s so much bigger than us that I can’t quite wrap myself– my brain can’t comprehend it completely,” Lawrence concluded. “It feels incredibly surreal and it feels kind of like it’s its own thing. It feels separate, even though we create the characters and we work, it feels like when people come up and they’re like, ‘we grew up with you.’ I’m like, ‘Really? How could that be?’ It’s a really interesting place to be.”