About Terrence Burke

Puppeteer beneath the Wump Mucket Puppets.

Location scouting in Parkers Woods

Thankfully there was no rain when my son Tiernan and I took a walk in Parkers Woods to look at locations for the “web-mercial” that I am creating for Northside’s best pizza shop NYPD Pizza.

Come and join us on a short walk in the woods and learn more about what I am making:

I am very happy with the script, and hope to get the production rolling within a week or so.  Now let’s hope that Cincinnati doesn’t get a week of heavy rain. Here’s a sneak peek at the storyboard:

A page from the NYPD Pizza "web-mercial" storyboard.

You always hear about truth in advertising, and how some ads are not what they seem to be.  I’ll completely honest with you, I am a loyal customer of NYPD Pizza and consider it an honor to create a funny little video with my puppet characters for them to use on their website. The Leidecker Family, who own the pizza shop, have always been great neighbors to my family and to our entire neighborhood of Northside.

Not funny CityBeat!

Some people will write almost anything for a laugh.  Sadly good humor is hard to find these days.  As an example I will share with you Cincinnati’s weekly newspaper CityBeat attempt to make a joke that is very offensive:

From: CityBeat.com “Worst Week Ever!” By Isaac Thorn

SATURDAY SEPT. 24

The Family Nurturing Center’s Kids on the Block program has been recognized by The Enquirer for its 25 years of educating elementary school children about abuse, primarily through the use of puppet shows presented in classrooms. The program has expanded its curriculum from sexual and physical abuse and now includes bullying and school safety issues. The organization apparently has a real knack for educating youngsters, even though puppeteers would finish second only to the piano teacher in the “What Professions are Most Likely To Molest My Kids?” poll if one were ever taken.

 

Obviously Isaac Thorn is unaware of all the good that  puppeteers in Cincinnati and all over the world do for children and their families.  Let’s enlighten him a bit with some history of puppetry and The Queen City, because CityBeat seems to be missing the beat all together.

Some facts:

  • In 1937, the newly formed Puppeteers of America held the very first National Puppetry Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Vent Haven Museum, which CityBeat has called a “world-class museum”, is the world’s only museum of ventriloquial figures and memorabilia. The museum is in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.
  • Tony Sarg, often called “America’s Puppet Master”, married in Cincinnati and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.
  • Larry Smith, television pioneer and puppeteer entertained generations of Cincinnati’s children on his television programs for decades.
  • Many members of the Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild volunteer their time and talent to help promote the art of puppetry by performing at schools, libraries, churches, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

With the facts laid on the table, I have to ask Mr. Thorn for a public apology.  Not only is what you consider to be a humorous jab not funny, you are insulting the many talented people who bring laughter, wonderment, and joy to a world that could use more puppeteers.

But wait, there is a use for CityBeat in the puppet community

CityBeat makes great paper mache puppet heads!

Thinking about Jim Henson today

Today puppeteer Jim Henson would have turned 75 years old.  I wonder if he would still perform Kermit the Frog if he were still with us.  My guess is that he would, since it seemed to me that he truly enjoyed performing the character.

Kermit and Jim Henson statue at the University of Maryland

You can add me to the long list of puppeteers who will tell you that Jim Henson, and his work with his puppet troupe The Muppets, are a major influence in their puppetry.  I imagine that many of us grew up watching him perform Kermit, Ernie, Rowlf, Doctor Teeth, and The Swedish Chef on television.

One of my attractions to Jim Henson’s work, is that he created real characters with his puppets.  Surely this was not done single-handedly.  Jim Henson had a great team of puppeteers, writers, and production people that made his puppets come alive on our TV screens.  This creation of believable puppet characters is what I try to accomplish with my little puppet troupe.

Cyril looks at the Kermit statue.

One other thought that came to me this morning, as my seven year old daughter enjoyed a few episodes of “Muppet Babies” between bites of Cheerios, would Jim Henson continue to create programming for families and young children?  What would his work look like in the 21st century?  Would he continue to work with felt & foam, or pioneer with computer generated “puppets”?  We can only speculate.

I will continue to wear the Henson influence on my sleeve by creating and performing puppet characters that I hope that children enjoy.

Cyril and Terrence at the Jim Henson statue, University of Maryland. May 2011


Thank you Jim, and Happy Birthday!
 

G’Wazzl as seen by Andy

The way we connect these days is still a big kick to me.  Ages ago I was very active in the underground music community.  I recorded electronic music, traded tapes (remember those?), published a music zine, even had my own radio program.  All the communication was via the postal service, and as thrilling as it was to receive as much mail as I did, it was slow.  Very slow.

Now, in the 21st century, we find people we know, used to know, want to know, even don’t want to know via Facebook, Twitter, and various other social media sites.  When I first started using these for my own personal use, I found it could be a major waste of my precious time.  Last year I took several weeks “off-line” to focus on getting the live puppet show into shape.  As Wump Mucket Puppets began to catch on, I started to set up accounts on various sites (does ANYONE look at MySpace any more???) to help promote it.

Several weeks ago, after reading a few books about how to use these sites, I began to make connections with puppeteers, artists, and fans.  One of these people that I connected with is artist Andy Finkle.  I think I first read about him on the always interesting cryptozoology blog Cryptomundo, and really liked the pictures that he had painted of various creatures.  Soon after I found him on-line and we connected a bit more with our shared interest of Doctor Who.

Andy expressed interest in painting a picture of one of my puppet characters, and asked for my permission.  Here is what he created:

Quo Kwa Quo Quo, nice painting!

G'Wazzl G'Wook by Andy Finkle, 2011

I must share with you, that I was very moved by his painting of G’Wazzl.    To have another artist capture the spirit of one of my characters means quite a bit to me.  The music side of my creative brain compares it to hearing another band play a cover version of your song, and make it their own without soiling the source material.  To this I say “thank you” to Andy, you are a very talented artist and I appreciate your interest in my puppets.

G’Wazzl will be making an announcement regarding this fine piece of “orange alien art” very soon.  Meanwhile, please take a look at Andy’s art at www.andyfinkle.com

Coleman’s Vlog – Episode 2 is “on the net”

I am very happy to announce that “Out of the Woods with Coleman the Sasquatch” Episode 2 is finished and awaiting your eyes & ears.

In this thrilling episode Coleman follows up on a call from his pal Michael, who thinks that he may have seen a large, strange, smelly creature lurking in the woods behind his house.

Let’s “tune in” and see what they find…

So, did you enjoy it? We had a grand time making the video in Williamstown, Kentucky at the home of our very dear friends Chris and Reynae Lockhart.  Chris was very helpful and was our cameraman for the video.  Did you see his cameo as a grumpy property owner?   Michael Switzer, was a very enthusiastic and patient actor. Thanks Michael for putting up with Coleman and his puppeteer!

The cast of Episode 2 relax between takes. In this photo: Terrence Burke, Coleman the Sasquatch, Michael Switzer

Did you know that there have been Bigfoot sightings in Kentucky?  I can help but wonder if a Sasquatch family may have been watching us while we made the video.

Where shall Coleman go next?  Why not make a suggestion and join the official Wump Mucket Puppets Facebook fan page.

Teaser for episode 2 of “Out of the Woods with Coleman”

Thank you all for being so patient while the next episode of Coleman’s thrilling Vlog is edited into a visually pleasing (and funny!) video. Fans like ours deserve the best, well at least the best that we can squeeze of of our gigantic budget of $4.27. So to reward you for being such great fans of Wump Mucket Puppets, here’s a short video featuring Coleman and his pal Eleanor Burke (yes that Eleanor Burke!). Enjoy. Share. Re-post. Thank you.

Thanks to our dear friends The Lockharts for inviting Coleman and his production crew to their home. The cake was scrumptious!

Is it Art?

Huh?  Puppetry?  Why sure it is.  All of my puppets start out as doodles in my sketchbook, that are then brought into a meeting room full of grumpy old bears who wear turtlenecks…

puppet puppeteer sketchbook Wump Mucket Puppets Terrence Burke

A page from Terrence Burke's puppet ideas sketchbook

Just kidding about the bears.  In reality, I show my sketches to my wife Lara and our children Eleanor and Tiernan to get their feedback.  Lara has the amazing ability to refine my ideas into a practical, performable puppet.  Eleanor has sharp little eagle eyes, and knows a good puppet design when she sees one. In fact she has drawn a very cool robot puppet for me to use in the not too distant future.  Tiernan loves to laugh at his daddy’s silly voices, so I listen to how much he laughs when I am trying out new puppet characters or bits to include in the show.

puppets puppetry prop Wump Mucket Puppets Terrence Burke

Eleanor with the Super Sugar Crunchy Things cereal box prop.

In example, if you attended our last performance at the Cincinnati Art Museum, you heard Coleman go on about how he wanted his own cotton candy machine so he could eat it when ever he wanted to.  That little bit of Coleman comedy was first tried out last Spring when I was ad-libbing with Coleman in front of Tiernan and Eleanor, and got lots of laughs from them.  So I made a mental note (which I lost) and eventually added it into the show.  Judging from the laughter I heard at the two shows, I’d say it worked.  I just dread seeing the dry cleaning bill to get the cotton candy out of Coleman’s fur.  And speaking of our furry little friend, episode 2 of his “Out of the Woods with Coleman” has been shot, and is gradually being edited into what looks to be a very silly piece of video.  We’ll keep you posted on that project.

puppets puppetry sasquatch puppet Wump Mucket Puppets Terrence Burke

Terrence, Eleanor, Coleman, and Michael on location in Kentucky.

More about art…

When I was very young I loved to watch two things on television (well three if you count Batman).  The two BIG things were puppets (of course) and cartoons.  Saturday mornings were my favorite time of the week, even though there were many scuffles between me and my siblings on what cartoon to watch.  Somehow I got the idea I wanted to be a cartoon animator without really knowing much about it.  All I knew was they drew the characters, and magically those drawings came to life on my TV.  A “magic box” I guess.  My art skills were pretty raw back then, yet my parents helped me by paying for drawing lessons.  Sadly I never was patient enough to practice my drawing, and I am still a “doodler”.  Yet, I am happy with that since I can scratch out a puppet idea quickly, and have my art school educated wife to tweak the design a bit (thanks Lara!).  As my puppet projects have grown, I can’t help but notice that somehow, along the way, I sort of became  a character animator.  Instead of having my characters limited to a screen, they are three  dimensional objects that you can touch and interact with.   I have often described my puppet show as a live Saturday morning cartoon, and think that to be very cool.  Please pass the Cap’n Crunch.

What-cha-readin’?

Or in English, “What are you reading?”

Cyril loves to read about his cousin Champ.

Those of you who know me know that I LOVE books!  Always have, and probably always will.  Not only do I borrow books from our library, I own quite a few too.  Heck, I could probably open a small library that specializes in books about puppetry, punk rock, and cryptozoology.

So in the spirit of sharing what we are reading, here is a link to my Goodreads.com profile so you can take a peek at what I have been reading, and what I plan to read.  Which is reminding me of one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, “Time Enough At Last” starring Burgess Meredith.  There never seems to be enough time to read all the books that I wish to read

I am presently reading:

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk

Fab: An Intimate Life of Paul McCartney by Howard Sounes

Why not join Goodreads.com, and let me see what you are reading?  Who knows?  We may even enjoy similar authors.

 

What a day at the Cincinnati Art Museum!

On behalf of all the puppets, a big thank you to everyone who came to see our two shows this afternoon at the Cincinnati Art Museum’s Family First Saturday.  We had a wonderful time telling jokes, singing songs, and hearing your laughter and applause.

Terrence Burke welcoming the audience at the Cincinnati Art Museum.

It was great to see our friends, both new and old, and hope that our Knock Knock jokes weren’t too painful.  Coleman loves telling these silly jokes, and will keep doing so as long as he gets the laughs.

If this was your first Wump Mucket Puppets show, thanks for coming to our performance.  We hope that you enjoyed it enough to tell your family and friends about our fun little show, and will join us again at a future performance.

Speaking of the future, as we explore the many connections made available through social media, here’s a very recent connection that was made after the publishers of the Bigfoot Ballyhoo internet magazine found one of Coleman’s videos on YouTube.  Here’s a link to their blog:
Bigfoot Ballyhoo Blog
Today’s shows were just the start of a very busy 2011, and we are very please to be saying so.  Thanks again to our lovely audience, and the staff at the Cincinnati Art Museum.  You know that Wump Mucket Puppets ROCK!

Cyril and Terrence Burke before performing at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Sept. 3 2011.