SpongeBob's high squealing nasal voice -- what Kenny describes as "an elf sucking on helium" -- was born when Kenny, then working as an extra, was asked to make background crowd noises. As a standup comic, he refined it further.
Parents, however, haven't always been laughing. Some have complained that little kids shouldn't be watching. Does a child really need to see a male starfish in fishnet stockings? What kind of message does that send?
Kenny proudly proclaims that his show has no message -- and no educational value. It's just slapstick fun. Is that so wrong? After all, another generation grew up with Bugs Bunny, who was known to wear women's clothing for laughs. Bugs has even been known to wear a brassiere.
"Knowing animators like we get to do, you find out why this happens. It comes out of drawing a character 8 bazillion times a week," Kenny says. "You get bored and start to play with it. You ask yourself, 'What if Patrick wore fishnets?' That then winds up in the show because it's visually funny, not because people on 'SpongeBob' are saying, 'Hey kids, become cross-dressers.' "
As the father of a 1-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son, Kenny can tell you that "butt humor and underpants humor" are very popular with kids, and there's nothing wrong with that -- nor is there anything wrong with carrying a little of that into adulthood.
"I watch TV with my kids, and sometimes you'll see a 22-minute cartoon with the message, 'It's nice to share.' My kids know it's nice to share," he says. "We want to see someone get hit in the head with a mallet, come on!"