Playing live-action versions of their SpongeBob SquarePants characters was a bit unnerving, the animated show’s voice actors admitted at TCA.

“I don’t want to live in a live action world I want to live in the cartoon world,” Tom Kenny, who voices SpongeBob admitted to TV critics of the live action tribute, in which he had to perform in character on a Krusty Krab set with people he’d been in the booth with 20 years, also of whom also were dressed like their characters.

He credited Mr. Krabs voice actor Clancy Brown with best explaining the weirdness. “He put it so perfectly, looked around and said ‘This is like having sex with the lights on’,” Kenny remembered.

The one-hour mixed live-action and animation special to mark the show’s 20 years, will mark the first time the voice talent behind SpongeBob, Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Sandy, Squidward and Plankton play live-action doppelganger version of the characters they voice. The special is set to premiere in July.

Doug Lawrence, aka Mr. Lawrence, aka the voice of Plankton, got asked where his character’s iconic “My Eyes” line came from. It was an ad lib, he said as cast mates credited him with being the show’s “buttoner.”

One critic wondered how the series became so much a part of our cultural zeitgeist. The cast informed them “zeitgeist” was their drinking game word for the TCA Q&A.

SpongeBob’s outlook on life is so sunny that even on the couple of occasions when something controversial broke out about the show, “SpongeBob still ends up winning,” unlike the NFL or Maroon 5, Kenny joked.

Though they insist SpongeBob SquarePants is a comedy series that the whole family can watch, they nonetheless have been surprised to discover some of its unabashed fans. Former President Barack Obama, for one, who one said in an interview he loved watching their show – and The Wire.

David Bowie also claimed to be a big fan, and once invited them to be his guests at one of his concerts. Only they had to park “30 miles away” and shuttle to the venue, where they were seated in some nosebleed section.
“When you do cartoons you’re always a little bit in the cartoon ghetto,” Kenny explained.