Mike Judge on the return of Beavis and Butt-Head in new series


Michael Starr

Cool.

Beavis and Butt-Head return for the first time in 11 years with “Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butt-Head,” premiering Aug. 4 on Paramount+.

The series features the “Beavis and Butt-Head” duo in all their moronic teen glory and will throw in a few surprises for longtime fans of the fire-loving Beavis and his equally sophomoric leader, Butt-Head — both still intent on “scoring” with girls while wearing their familiar Metallica and AC/DC T-shirts, watching and mocking videos on TV (and now also on TikTok and YouTube) and, basically, just being their annoying (lovable?) selves.

Their return to television was preceded by the movie “Beavis and Butt-Head Do The Universe,” which premiered in late June on Paramount + (paramountplus.qflm.net/9WG5D0) — which also streams their 1996 movie, “Beavis & Butt-Head Do America” and the classic series, which aired from 1993-97 and for one season in 2011 (both on MTV).

Beavis and Butt-Head creator Mike Judge, 59, spoke to The Post about his iconic duo and how they’ve changed (or haven’t) for their 2022 debut.

Was it tough to get back into the skin of these two characters?

I never do these voices when I’m not doing the show; every now and then, maybe two times a year, I’ll find myself in the car and something will cross my mind and I’ll just kind of do [the voices] in a low volume to myself. But it’s not something I do in my spare time, ever. Part of what got me thinking about doing it again … was [that] I introduced the band Portugal. The Man at Coachella; I hadn’t done the voices in forever and I thought, maybe my voice sounds different, maybe it doesn’t sound right. But I gave it a try and listened to it back and thought, ‘Oh, that still sounds like Beavis and Butt-Head to me’ … and I thought, if there’s an offer out there maybe I should do this while I still can. I really like doing it and there were enough fresh ideas around. It’s still one of the favorite things I’ve ever done.

Beavis and Butt-Head are sitting on a ratty red couch in front of a television set. Beavis is looking at Butt-Head. There's a soda with a straw on the table in front of them.
Butt-Head (left) and Beavis on their familiar ratty couch, watching videos.
MTV/Paramount+
Photo of series creator Mike Judge. He's wearing a blue sports jacket and a black sports shirt. He's looking at the camera directly.
“Beavis and Butt-Head” creator Mike Judge, who voices both characters.
Getty Images

Was it a conscious decision to add TikTok and YouTube videos?

Yeah. We wanted to update it to make it feel like there’s a reason to do it, without trying too hard. I feel like if it’s fun for me do to and it’s making people laugh, it’s good. It’s super of its time. Beavis and Butt-Head were never particularly hip characters, anyway. When the show first came on, when they aired my short [vignettes] in 1992, Pauly Shore was all the rage. He had every hip catchphrase of that generation and I knew I couldn’t compete with that. So I consciously decided to make them very uncool. Their T-shirts were of bands that had already been around for a while. They didn’t start out particularly stuck in that time period. When I was a teenager, 16 or 17, Rodney Dangerfield was popular; he was just a fun old guy and he wasn’t trying to be young. The key is not trying too hard to be relevant — you either are or you’re not, and if you’re not, then it is what it is.

When the show first came out there was some talk that [their T-shirts] shouldn’t be AC/DC or Metallica but should be Nirvana or Pearl Jam. I remember going to a mall around the time school was letting out — I was living outside of Dallas at the time — to go see what teens were wearing. I saw this awkward kid with braces and an AC/DC shirt and said, “OK, that’s good enough for me.”

The new opening theme sounds different.

The original theme was me and a drum machine and I played everything else. Now it’s Gary Clark Jr.; I’ve known him from around Austin for a long time before he became huge like he is now. I’m actually playing the opening riff but the rest is all Gary Clark in his home [recording] studio. I love it — the more I listen to it, the more I like his version. It’s incredible.

Beavis and Butt-Head are looking into what appears to be a barrel and pondering a situation. Butt-Head has his hand on his chin, like he's thinking.
Beavis and Butt-Head ponder the situation.
MTV/Paramount+

Did you worry about Beavis & Butt-Head not being P.C. in their return?

I just think, “Why bother?” I think it was [“South Park” creators] Trey Parker or Matt Stone who said something I thought of as a great compliment. They said, “Beavis and Butt-Head” is like the blues: it’s the same thing over and over again but it’s good.” I think that’s about right. You’re not laughing at what they’re laughing at, you’re laughing at what they think actually constitutes a joke. There’s also the timing of it, trying to throw something in when you don’t quite expect it or when you absolutely expect it. It kinda feels like it’s one or the other, sometimes. I didn’t want to make them smarter; there are TV shows to me, like “The Beverly Hillbillies or “The Three Stooges,” that I’ll just laugh at all the time even though it’s the same sort of joke over an over. There’s something comforting about seeing [Beavis and Butt-Head] not grow much at all, ever. With “King of the Hill,” I was trying to do the other category like “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or “Leave It to Beaver,” the kind of show where the character does learn a little something. There’s one episode [in the new series] where Butt-Head is prescribed medication — we don’t say what kind — by the school psychiatrist … for his aggression at school, and he becomes really nice for a while. And that was really fun to do and it just drives Beavis crazy and their dynamic is completely thrown off. By the end of the episode Butt-Head is right back to his usual self.

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