Mike Nawrocki met Phil Vischer, CEO of Big Idea Productions, in college. They worked together in a St. Paul Bible College puppet ministry and became roommates. That is, until they were kicked out of school for missing too many chapels.
Nawrocki and Vischer then worked on a single computer to create the VeggieTales series. Nawrocki is writer and director for Big Idea and a father of two young children. But he is perhaps best known to VeggieTales fans for lending a voice to Larry the Cucumber, the goofy sidekick to Vischer's Bob the Tomato.
As the Big Idea staff was putting the finishing touches on Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie, Christianity Today editor at large Edward Gilbreath talked with Nawrocki about starting the video series, creating Larry, and why he isn't a doctor.
Did you and Phil know in college that you wanted to work together?
Yes. We met on a puppet team while there. Every student coming in was required to do a student ministry, and they had a bunch of different ones to choose from. I was from Denver; Phil was from the Chicago area. I had been involved in puppeteering and drama in my home church in Denver.
There were probably about five or six of us on the puppet team. We just traveled around doing our puppet shows. Phil and I did the majority of the writing and we just had a great time writing together. We had this creative chemistry that really clicked in terms of writing and performing.
Back then did it have that sort of VeggieTales humor?
It did. Really, it turned out both of us were really influenced by Monty Python. Mel Brooks was another kind of a big humor influence. We had a real similar sense of humor, and that kind of came through our writing at that time, and later with VeggieTales. Larry's voice is a voice ...1