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Mike Judge Biography

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Birth Name: Mike Judge
Born: 10/17/1962
Birth Place: Ecuador

As much of his later work would suggest, Judge grew up in the American Southwest - specifically, Albuquerque, NM - although he was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador on Oct. 17, 1962. Despite his parents encouraging their son to pursue science, the youngster was more interested in writing and art throughout high school. Luckily for Judge, science and math came easy. He would go on to study and earn a degree in physics at the University of California, San Diego. After graduation, he landed a series of engineering jobs, including working on electronic systems for U.S. fighter jets, but the creative side of his nature began getting restless. Giving it all up, he moved to Austin to pursue a career as a rock musician, of all things, and continued to pursue his writing and drawing aspirations in his free time.

In 1991, Judge created a series of animated short films, known as "The Milton" series, one of which was entitled "Office Space" - directed, voiced and animated by Judge on second hand equipment. The short was selected for an animation festival in Dallas, where it drew positive notices; eventually being picked up for broadcast by the Comedy Central network. He also created a short called "Frog Baseball," which featured characters - later immortalized as heavy metal fans, Beavis and Butt-head - in a game of amphibian bashing. Judge came up with the two slacker characters while attempting to draw pictures of old friends from high school. Their personas came soon afterward - the ambivalent slacker Butt-head and the easily excitable Beavis - were based on people and experiences from Judge's days in junior high; some aspects, such as Butt-head's braces, came from Judge himself.

"Frog Baseball" was a hit at animation festivals, eventually making the rounds to the desk of "Saturday Night Live" producer Lorne Michaels, who commissioned Judge to do three more short films for "S.N.L." (NBC, 1975- ). Soon thereafter, MTV came calling, hiring Judge to create a full series based on his metal-loving duo. A major success for the music network, "Beavis and Butt-head" ran for four years and accumulated almost 200 episodes. The show drew criticism from conservative groups and media watchdogs for promoting aggressive and anti-social behavior in children - which naturally made it a bigger hit. Among the show's biggest fans was, oddly, straight-laced late night host, David Letterman, who often imitated one of the two characters during lulls in his own act. In a little known fact at the time, the multi-talented Judge even provided the voices for both characters. The duo's popularity peaked with the release of a spin-off movie, "Beavis & Butt-head Do America" (1996), in which the crude, clueless duo makes a misguided cross-country quest.

Judge's next foray into animation was "King of the Hill," which debuted on Fox in 1997. Focusing on the everyday life of proud Texan Hank Hill, who wiles the weekends away drinking beer with his three neighbors and struggling with wife Peggy to raise their son Bobby, the show was a quiet but durable success. Again, Judge provided many voices, including Hill, who was based on a character he created for "Beavis and Butt-Head." While never taking pop culture by storm like "Beavis and Butt-head" or fellow Fox hit "The Simpsons" (1989- ), the show, with its subtle characters and realistic plotlines more befitting a live-action series, had been a steady hit for a decade.

Proving he could tackle both universes, Judge made an uproariously successful move from animated to live action in 1999, with the seminal workplace comedy, "Office Space." Starring the then relative unknown Ron Livingston as a hapless office worker bored out of his mind, the comedy also featured a gaggle of eccentric misfits all dealing with the corporate grind, including Gary Cole as the creepy, even-keeled boss, Bill Lumbergh; Stephen Root as the intellectually-challenged, staple-loving Milton; and in her break-out film role, Jennifer Aniston as the jaded waitress, Joanna. Judge wrote, produced, directed and even acted in the film (playing the anal-retentive manager of Chotchkies who harasses Aniston), which drew upon his experiences in those bland, direct-out-of-college engineering jobs young professionals are saddled with. The movie did only modest box office business, but went on to become a huge success on home video and enjoyed a massive cult following as one of the public's favorite comedies of all time.

Perhaps inspired by his fine thespian work in front of the camera in "Office Space," Judge continued to act in largely uncredited and brief roles, including parts in the hit kiddie film, "Spy Kids," (2001) as well as its sequels, the misbegotten comedy "Serving Sara" (2002), and a 2003 episode of "Frasier" (NBC, 1993-2004), entitled "The Harassed." Since the fall of 2003, Judge ran a very successful animation festival together with animator Don Hertzfeldt, called "The Animation Show," which toured the country every year, screening animated shorts from mostly independent animators.

Back behind the camera, Judge returned to the big screen by writing, directing and producing "Idiocracy" (2006) - a film about an ordinary moron, played by Luke Wilson, who wakes up 1,000 years in the future, only to discover that everyone has been dumbed-down so much that he is now a genius. Two years after being shelved by 20th Century Fox, the dystopian comedy was dumped into limited release in September, 2006 without a trailer or substantial marketing campaign, and was referred to (humorously) at some theaters as "Untitled Mike Judge Comedy."