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Dani Michaeli Interview

Date Interviewed: June 3, 2013

ssj4gogita4: First of all, Mr. Michaeli, thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to do this. It means a lot to us. I hope you've had a great year so far.
Dani: Hello,
Thanks again for asking me to do this. I am very proud of my time on SpongeBob and honored that anyone would be curious about my experiences on the show. Much appreciated!

ssj4gogita4: My name is Timo and I will be conducting this interview with you.
I'd like to ask if you can introduce yourself to the cartoon world for those who are not as familiar of your work as some of us might be.

Dani: My name is Dani Michaeli. I am a TV writer and I was on staff on South Park and SpongeBob. Also, I was the story editor (head writer) of the first season of The Aquabats! Super! Show! More recently, I have been freelancing on such shows as Sofia the First for Disney Jr, and Ben 10: Omniverse.

ssj4gogita4: Was writing something you wanted to do your entire life or did you want to go down a different path in college?
Dani: I went to film school at SUNY Purchase. Originally, I thought I wanted to be a movie director although writing was a big part of my film education. After college, I was often asked to help people with writing projects and it was a fairly natural transition. Turns out, my personality is probably far better suited to writing then directing.

ssj4gogita4: How did you get to be a writer on SpongeBob?
Dani: I was on the writing staff on South Park when I met Paul Tibbitt (executive producer of SpongeBob) and we hit it off (or at least, he didn't hate me.) After that, I was invited to pitch story ideas at a meeting with other members of the show's staff including Vincent Waller and Steven Banks. Several months after that meeting, I was offered a job on the writing staff.

ssj4gogita4: Do you consider yourself to be more like one character as opposed to another? This can include any characters in past shows you've worked on.
Dani: I really relate to SpongeBob. His enthusiasm for his job is something I am very familiar with. I was in my thirties when I got to work on SpongeBob and had many jobs that felt like they weren't really "me". When I was finally getting to make up stories and be creative for a living, I had so much energy and enthusiasm that I'm still coasting on that happy feeling. SpongeBob LOVES the Krusty Krab and to me, that represents the passion people can have for a job. He would pay to work there. That's how I felt on SpongeBob (don't tell Nickelodeon because I do happen to like money too). In an ideal world, everyone would have a job they could love the way SpongeBob loves the Krusty Krab.

ssj4gogita4: Which character have you had the most fun to write for?
Dani: Patrick is extremely fun to write for because you can imagine new levels of dumb and then go dumber. Some people think funny is about being smart, but if you can tap into new depths of dumbness, that can be funnier than anything. Apparently, I have the ability to find new ways to be dumb. Maybe that's not something I should be proud of... I don't know.

ssj4gogita4: Do you have a favorite episode you’ve worked on in the past?
Dani: The first episode I wrote (together with Casey Alexander and Chris Mitchell) is "Bummer Vacation", which was nominated for an Emmy so that's one I am very proud of. I am also very proud of "Picture Day" because it was inspired by a real life experience my daughter went through in pre-school. She is a SpongeBob fan so it's pretty special to be able to tell her she inspired an episode of the show.

ssj4gogita4: What is a typical day of work for you like?
Dani: While I was working on SpongeBob, a typical day would involve a lot of time in my office, either working on new ideas or existing stories. Once or twice a week, we would have writers meetings that would last about an hour and were very fun. The meetings were a time to come out of our cave-like offices and share the stories we were working on, pitch ideas and jokes and then go away and get back to work. For the last few months, I have been working freelance, which can be kind of similar without the meetings. If you want to be a writer, I guess it's good if you enjoy alone time and have the discipline to accomplish stuff without too much supervision.

ssj4gogita4: Rye or Pumpernickel?
Dani: Definitely Rye, but it's a personal choice.

ssj4gogita4: What are your best memories of working on the show?
Dani: I was on SpongeBob for 5 and a half years so I have a TON of great memories, most involving the other staff, who are almost unilaterally amazing, interesting people. The camaraderie with the other writers, Paul Tibbitt and Vincent Waller was a very special chemistry and we laughed a lot. Gotta think about this one, but for now writers meetings are probably a best guess answer for best memories.

I'd like to personally thank Dani Michaeli for this great interview. It was an honor chatting with him. This is easily one of my favorite moments of my life. He has been a fantastic writer for SpongeBob. Everyone out there watching the show thanks you for your service to the little yellow sponge and all his pals. Stay spongey!