Mister Kent Osborne is charismatic, incredibly hilarious, and he has definitely got a way with words. Of course, as an established writer, lyricist, actor, director, producer, and storyboard artist, we wouldn’t expect anything less! We count ourselves lucky and honored to present today’s interview, in which he dishes about his favorite childhood cartoons, his personal and firsthand re-interpretation of winning an Emmy, and an exclusive look at a storyboard from one of his favorite Adventure Time episodes.
A quick synopsis of the man you are about to meet — Osborne’s body of work runs the gamut from the SpongeBob SquarePants series and movie, to storyboarding for Regular Show and The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack, in which he voiced minor characters in Monsters vs. Aliens and Kung Fu Panda, and on Adventure Time, he is a storyboard artist, head writer, and an occasional voice actor.
(In the event that you are reading this while at work, or in school, or in a library — prepare to laugh out loud quite a few times while reading Kent’s answers. You’ve been warned!)
[We asked Kent to fill in the blanks.] My name is Kent Osborne, I am a human. I am 50% dreamer and 50% doer. I would describe myself as nice enough, and I am most inspired by the laughter of children. I dream of flying, and I will do that by flying on an airplane.
Dreamers & Doers: You’ve been immersed in the entertainment industry for decades. How has your style of writing evolved throughout the years?
Kent: A friend from high school recently sent me a column I wrote about television for our high school newspaper and at first I was like, “whoa cool! Nostalgia!!” but then I read a couple paragraphs and was instantly horrified at how unfunny I was. My jokes were so “hacky” and also “terrible”. I was like, “What’s the deal with Gilligan’s Island? They could make a car and a recording studio but they can’t make a boat?” hahahahHORRIBLE. Anyway, the point is I cringe at all the stuff I wrote in my 20’s. I once wrote a play called “Watering America” and it was about college students driving cross country to meet a famous anti-war protester from the 60’s…hahahaa. What? The point is, I think it’s important to write all the time and as much as you can, and maybe when you first start it will be great, but if it’s bad, just keep writing and eventually it’ll be good?
DD: What cartoons, if any, did you enjoy as a child?
K: Looney Tunes, Peanuts, Pink Panther, Flintstones, Tom and Jerry, (or was it Jerry and Tom? I don’t remember) Scooby Doo, Scooby Don’t, Smurfs, Inspector Gadget, Yellow Submarine, Jungle Book, Robin Hood, Fantasia
DD: What or who were your early influences?
K: Sesame Street, Get Smart, Leave it to Beaver, What’s Happening, Brady Bunch, “Mad Magazine”, Muppets, Saturday Night Live, SCTV, David Letterman, Pee Wee Herman, Kids in the Hall, MST3K, Simpsons, Mr Show
DD: When did you realize an integral role in entertaining others was a profession you wanted to stick with?
K: Haha, what?
DD: Do you have any photos of your favorite storyboards?
K: Here’s a storyboard page from an Adventure Time episode called “The Party’s Over, Isla de Senorita”. I chose it because I really like using animals to do chores, Flintstones-style, and we don’t really get to do that too much, but I snuck this in. Haha.
DD: Can you describe your work space?
K: If I’m at home, I usually work at my kitchen table because I can look out the window and it’s a nice view. At work I have an office with a desk and a computer and then a drawing table with a lightbox and shelves and drawers for supplies and stuff. I like to listen to music when I work!
DD: Out of every character you’ve written about, who do you relate to the most?
K: Captain K’nuckles and Lumpy Space Princess.
DD: Do you incorporate people close to you in your writing and character development?
K: Oh yes, all the time. Most of the time it’s subconscious, you’re sort of sitting there, thinking, “what should this character say here?”…and then your mind wanders and eventually you’re like, “Well my mom would say this….” and then all these ideas come flooding out. And then other times it’s a straight up conscious decision, you’re like, “I’m gonna base this character on my buddy, Dennis. He’s a real character!”
DD: Which artists inspire you most?
K: My favorite instagram is Ron Lent. I listen to The Best Show every week. I also really like listening to the music of Matt Berry. And Todd Rohal, Nathan For You, Neil Hamburger, Broad City, and Vic Berger.
DD: How does it feel in that moment when you are at the Emmys….and you win?!!
K: It’s fun! You run up on stage amid a small mob of people who worked on the episode (a veritable who’s who of Cartoon Network!) and you have 45 seconds to talk, (our showrunner Adam did all the talking) and then you go backstage and sign for your Emmy, and then they take your picture, and everyone’s saying “congrats!” and slapping each other on the back, and then you go next door to a big party, and you eat and drink and dance and the whole time you’re holding a beautiful gold trophy and you’re like, “I’ve never been so happy!” and then you go home alone and fall asleep in your clothes, and you wake up the next morning to the sound of running water and you think, “Is my neighbor doing yard work? Did he leave the hose on?” and you get up to go to the bathroom and your toilet is overflowing and there’s water everywhere and you call your landlord and he’s like, “What did you do?!” and you’re like, “NOTHING!!”
DD: What is the most memorable experience in your career thus far?
K: The most recent! Hahaha, jkjkjkjk, no but seriously, I’m so old, my brain is swiss cheese at this point, more holes than cheese even! My memories are threadbare t-shirts whose individual atoms are held together by the sweat of repetition. THAT BEING SAID! I think the time I spent working on The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack is my most memorable experience thus far. So many talented artists and future show creators worked on that first season. Plus Steve Little (Eastbound and Down) and Jackie Buscarino (Grandma’s Virginity Podcast) in the writers room! And Thurop was our leader. Everybody stayed late and worked on weekends…I never went to college, but that felt like college to me. If life is like LOST and when I die I go to a church with a bunch of people, it will probably be with everyone who worked on Flapjack. (SORRY EVERYONE ELSE! SORRY FAMILY!)
DD: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
K: That it’s okay to remove yourself from any situation that is holding you back creatively.
DD: What advice would you give to young writers looking to follow in your footsteps?
K: Write every day. Draw pictures to go with what you write. Put your stuff on the internet. Watch bad movies as much as good movies. Go for walks. Be nice.
And now, please enjoy a clip from “The Party’s Over, Isla de Señorita”!