The Early Short Films Of Mike Judge

From F-18 programming, to experimental animation, to SILICON VALLEY.

Tonight, Alamo Drafthouses across the country will show the first two episodes of Silicon Valley season four followed by a livestreamed Q&A with co-creator / executive producer Mike Judge and cast members Martin Starr (Gilfoyle), and Zach Woods (Jared). Get your tickets here!

Mike Judge has the uncanny ability to turn almost anything he works on into some pretty great stuff. Both the TV series and films he has worked on have all landed in the pop culture spotlight. With all the stuff we know Judge for (namely, Beavis and Butt-Head, King of the HillOffice Space and Silicon Valley) he doesn’t exactly have the background you would expect from a guy that is so connected to animation and film. He actually graduated with a bachelor of science in physics, and went on to program F-18 fighter jets, assisted in a start-up video card company in Silicon Valley, and played in a band (like one does). 

In a conversation on Mark Maron’s WTF Podcast, Judge explained that he acquired a 16mm camera and began animating and giving voice to a few characters that he had in his head at the time. The short films are rough around the edges and have some pretty low-quality sound, but are unmistakably a style that would eventually become trademark Judge. 

Judge’s short Inbred Jed, or The Honky Problem, depending on where you look, featured a traveling honky-tonker who constantly displays a lump in his throat while trying to sing his songs to a baffled crowd of hillbillies. Poor Jed tries to sell the lie that it is indeed good to be there, but busts into tears on hilarious and choked up failed attempts. 

In Huh?, Judge once again tackles hillbillies in a short that features a culture clash between a hippie-sort and Bud. This one began the path into Beavis and Butt-Head territory by setting up the model of watching a moron watch TV. The whole thing is a bit heavy handed but was perfect for the 1990's rise of healthy grocery store options and a heavier handed liberal. 

Milton, is undoubtedly the precursor to Office Space. In this one, we are introduced to a quiet beta-male named Milton. Throughout the short he is constantly pushed around. His desk is moved into the basement, nobody listens or values him and eventually his stapler is taken, which acts as the final straw. Judge gave voice to Milton in a part that would later be played by Stephen Root. 

In Frog Baseball, Judge establishes the true portrait of '90s society drip-fed from MTV. The two title characters were a lot more raw and sadistic here. Judge went to extremes by having the boys beat all hell out of a poor frog, each other and eventually a poodle. Luckily, for them John Wick wasn’t a thing yet and they lived to see another day.

Peace, Love and Understanding again featured Beavis and Butt-Head and solidified the model of the boys watching and commenting on television commercials, before heading out to get into misadventures. After sniffing glue, the boys decide to attend a monster truck show and suffer the wrath of the Greek god of feces. A lot of the mean edge of this version of Beavis and Butt-head was removed once the two characters were transferred onto MTV airwaves, and honestly, it made them a lot easier to handle.

Get your Silicon Valley tickets here!