TV fans know Mike Judge as the creator and animator of “Beavis and Butt-head,” “King of the Hill,” and “The Goode Family,” along with such films as “Office Space” and “Idiocracy.”
But before he took up entertainment, Judge was a defense subcontractor, writing software for systems connected to F/A-18 aircraft.
So, with his latest project, the live-action comedy “Silicon Valley” premiering Sunday, April 6, on HBO, Judge is moving back into familiar tech territory.
Executive-produced by Judge and Alec Berg, “Silicon Valley” stars Thomas Middleditch as Richard, an introverted computer programmer living in the Hacker Hostel startup incubator with other programmers hoping to hit it big in the Bay Area tech hub. But when Richard invents a compression algorithm that may revolutionize searching the Web, they wind up in the middle of a bidding war.
Also starring are T.J. Miller, Kumail Nanjiani, Martin Starr, Josh Brener, Christopher Evan Welch and Amanda Crew.
For Judge, art imitates life, then life interferes with art.
“We have stuff in later episodes,” he tells Zap2it, “about how horrible a lot of new technology is, and we’ll be sitting there editing it, and then the editing system crashes while we’re editing a scene about a holographic teleconference crashing … yeah.”
As to how he actually felt about programming, Judge says, “I didn’t do a whole lot of it. I found it really interesting at the very beginning, especially at the machine-code level. Then it just became something that I didn’t have the attention span for, unless I really had to do it.
“So I actually changed majors to physics. But then I did some programming in that, too.”
It also didn’t do much for his social life.
“At parties,” he says, “when people would find out I’d be studying physics — I had this happen a lot — ‘Oh, I love physics.’ I’d get excited, because I thought they really knew something about it, then it’s just some crap they read in Omni magazine.”
Birth date: Oct. 17, 1962, in Guyaquil, Ecuador (his archaeologist father was working for a nonprofit promoting agricultural development)
School cred: Graduated from St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque, N.M.; earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of California-San Diego
Music cred: In the 1990s, Judge played blues bass with Doyle Bramhall and was a part of blues guitarist Anson Funderburgh’s band for two years.
More geek cred: “When I was in junior high school, I had a ham radio license and an antenna on my roof, and a Heathkit transceiver, talking to people from other countries.”
Favorite annoying TV-geek moment: “I don’t know what’s happened in the last six years of people saying [they’re geeks]. ‘Portlandia’ did something about this, just supermodel girls feeling like they have to say what a big geek they are, or what a big nerd they are, and it being disrespectful to true, actual nerds.”
Favorite online entertainment source: “YouTube, for me, is a double-edged sword, because I’m on it a lot, but at the same time, the first thing I ever animated and finished, which was the first ‘Office Space,’ the cartoon, the two-minute thing, it’s on there. I meticulously sat there with a stopwatch and timed every syllable to get the lip-sync right, and there it is on YouTube, out of sync.”
Favorite movies about tech: “‘The Social Network’ is one of the few times I’ve seen programmers, tech people, portrayed pretty accurately. Another one, it was well done, a movie called ‘Primer,’ a small independent movie.”