About Terrence Burke

Puppeteer beneath the Wump Mucket Puppets.

Puppet Rockin’ in the Queen City Day 3

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Puppet Rockin’ in the Queen City Day 3

Friday, October 24 2014  The third day of our production was chosen to work into the schedule of our VIP.  None other than the Mayor of Cincinnati, John Cranley!  He’s a very busy man, and we were grateful to have thirty minutes of his time to include him in the video.  When our crew got the call that Mayor Cranley would be available, I was informed that the shoot at City Hall was a go!

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I have met my share of famous people in my years in the radio/music biz, yet this was my first time meeting and performing for television with a mayor.  I have to admit, I was a wee bit nervous before the cameras started to roll.  Being the prepared puppeteer that I am, I brought a Wump Mucket Puppets Pack o’ Fun and several coloring pages for Mayor Cranley to give to his young son.

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Our crew was very speedy in setting up the lighting and camera equipment, so that when Mayor Cranley arrived we could shoot his scenes lickity split!  We were shooting in front of an antique trash wagon that still has a plate on the front dated 1928!  It’s still really sturdy, I even climbed up into the driver’s bench with Cyril.

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The message for this spot is to encourage viewers to keep Cincinnati green by recycling cans and paper whenever possible.  Cyril and his co-star John Ervin are off to meet the Mayor and find him “cleaning up City Hall”.  I had a bit of a hard time hearing our directors Bobby Gayol and Paul Grundy call “Action!” a few times, due to all the traffic, church bells, buses, and fire engines.  Keep it down Cincinnati!  We’re making television here!

 photo DSC06840_zps3264f975.jpgPuppeteering from a sidewalk is hard.  Very hard.  In the photo to the right you can see my “work space” for the afternoon, nicely hidden from the camera’s view behind several trash cans.

I was very fortunate that our producer Ann Newsom, from Cincinnati’s Department of Public Services, had a spare blanket in her car. Thanks again Ann!

I did bring my trusty travel mug of chamomile tea and honey, which really did help my voice stay in shape on this Autumn afternoon.  Notice the clipboard that is holding my script?  That piece of particle board has been with me since my radio and zine days in the early 1990s!  I have lost track how many radio playlists, zine articles, and now puppetry scripts have been held into place on that clipboard.

With my solo scenes shot.  The word was given that we were ready to have Mayor John Cranley join us.  He was very friendly when I introduced him to his co-star Cyril the Sea Serpent, he even tweeted about us later that afternoon!  I had hoped to take a photo with the Mayor, but sadly time did not allow for that.  Cyril has able to shoot this picture with his tail as the crew and producers explained the script to the Mayor.  Many pedestrians passed us, wondering what was going on at City Hall.
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Mayor Cranley performed his scene with Cyril quickly and was off to another appointment.  Cyril got to say goodbye, and hopes to work at City Hall again.  Next on the shot sheet was Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua‘s scene.  Keep in mind that Kitty is a giant intergalactic, transdimensional alien space cat.  She is so large that only one of her paws can enter our dimension.  Soupy Sales had giant dog paws on his show, I have a giant space cat paw in mine.  Did you know that Soupy’s television career was started on WKRC-TV right here in Cincinnati?

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For her scene Kitty had to throw a tin can onto the sidewalk, which prompts  Mayor Cranley to scold her and explain that he all need to do our part and recycle.  I had to practice the can toss a few times to get the throw right for the camera.  After a few takes, success!  Maybe she should pitch for The Reds next Spring?

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When we finished shooting Kitty’s scene,  it was time to call it a day!  I was eager to get home and tell my family about puppeteering with Mayor Cranley.  My mother was visiting us from New England, and was very interested in hearing about the puppetry that I have been performing.  Once again, I had a very positive experience all around.  I was happy that the planets and our schedules aligned, allowing us an afternoon to shoot another TV spot with my puppet characters.

Puppet Rockin’ in the Queen City Day 2

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Puppet Rockin’ in the Queen City Day 2

Friday, October 17 2014.  Our television production was delayed over a week due to the heavy rain that was falling on Cincinnati.  Eventually, the sun decided to come out again, and we were ready and waiting to make some more fun TV spots.  Our entire team was tired of the rain.

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Our first location for second full day of shooting was in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood of Cincinnati.  Our special guest star was Ed Grant of AllGood Home Improvements.  I must admit that I had no idea who our guest was, yet our crew was very excited that Ed was working with us.  I learned that he is the owner and TV spokesman for AllGood, and appears in quite a few TV ads for his business.  This was both his first time shooting on location, and performing with a caveman puppet!

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In this spot, Unka Unka is trying to hold an overloaded trash can’s lid down, until it bursts and sends trash all over the sidewalk, and a banana peel onto his head.  Ed plays Unka’s neighbor and informs him how to get a bigger trashcan to hold all his waste.

It was a very welcome relief not to have to puppeteer from inside a trash can again.  All of my scenes with Unka were performed by hiding myself behind a row of trash cans lined up on the sidewalk.  The “luxury” of climbing inside the can to launch the prop trash out of the can and onto the ground was given to Paul Grundy.

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Puppeteering Unka is different from many of the other puppets in our cast, as he is a traditional hand puppet without a moving mouth.  His head rests on my index finger while my thumb and pinky on my left hand operate his arms.  Since I sculpted his head to fit my left hand, it is not too uncomfortable to perform him.  Unka Unka is a caveman in the most cartoony way, and his vocabulary is not very large.  The script used in this spot gave Unka more dialog than in our live puppet show.  I delivered his lines in “cave speak” with the appropriate ughs and grunts.  Since making this spot Unka has asked me to give him more stage time and lines.  Next thing you know he’ll want his own dressing room and a oppurtunity to perform Shakespeare!

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After Ed and Unka completed their scenes, it was time for Cyril and his co-star John Ervin to shoot their bits that will be edited in.  Cyril was pleased to work with John again and got a thrill delivering his lines from inside a city garbage truck.  When these scenes were completed we learned that the producers were treating the cast and crew to lunch at Molly Malone’s Irish Pub!

After lunch, we headed to our second location of the day to shoot in the neighborhood of Westwood.  It was nice to learn that the father of our co-star Ann was friends with my departed, but never forgotten, friend Michael W. Riley.  That’s the beauty of living in a smaller city, you eventually bump into nice people who know somebody that you know.

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My second co-star for this spot was Marcus Potter.  It turns out that he is a singer too!  I enjoyed working with him, and chatting about how performers can use social media and websites to  promote themselves.  As you can see from the photo above Cyril (and his tail) had fun acting with Marcus too.

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In this PSA (that’s TV talk for Public Service Announcement) Cyril and Marcus see that Ann is not using approved trash cans when putting them out for pick-up.  Above is a photo of our crew setting up a shot.

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About halfway through this scene I noticed that we had a few young visitors on location!  Cyril urged me to bring him over and meet our young friends.  As it turns out they are the grandchildren of my co-star John Ervin, and very excited that their grandfather was working with puppets.

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After warming up to us, Dante and Olivia agreed to have their photo taken with Cyril.  Dante told me that this was his sister’s first time meeting a puppet.  As you can see from his wonderful smile he had a great time meeting us too.  Thanks for visiting us on location Dante and Olivia, we hope you’ll come see our show!

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With the visit from our new young pals over, it was time to get back to work and get the remaining shots finished.  Luckily the wonderful weather stayed with us all afternoon.  Cyril was fascinated by all the video equipment and enjoyed watching our talented crew work their magic. They make the hard work look so easy.

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Then after a few takes with Cyril and Ann, we were finished with another very productive day of puppeteering for television.  The great weather certainly helped everyone shine.  I really enjoyed spending a few minutes Dante and Olivia and entertaining them with Cyril and Coleman.  The nine hours of hard work seemed to fly by, that’s because we were all having fun.

Happy Birthday Burr Tillstrom

Happy Birthday Burr Tillstrom

Today would have been puppeteer Burr Tillstrom‘s 97th birthday.

His show Kukla Fran and Ollie was one of the first puppet television shows that I remember seeing as a boy.  I guess it made quite an impression as I am still a fan to this very day.

To celebrate Burr’s birthday my wife Lara and I created this little video

Thanks Burr!  You made lots of people happy.

Puppet Rockin’ In The Queen City

Wump Mucket Puppets on location for City of Cincinnati TV spot

Puppet Rockin’ In The Queen City

Day 1 – Hillsides and Trashcans

As I attempted to sleep on Wednesday night, I remembered of all of the people that have helped me reach this new point in following my childhood dream to be a puppeteer.  Certainly my parents were there from the start so long ago.  Thoughts of my father were racing about my brain, and how I wished he was here to enjoy my growing success as a puppeteer.  Then, I finally fell asleep.

Suddenly it was 5:45 on Thursday morning.  I needed to prepare for my day as the solo puppeteer for the Cincinnati Department of Public Services television spot -that’s showbiz lingo!  I zipped up my hoodie, plugged in my earbuds, and hit the sidewalk for my morning walk, Led Zeppelin was my soundtrack.  With the “rock walk” and arm stretches complete, I had breakfast, kissed my family goodbye and drove to Cincinnati State College, who’s video department are providing the crew and equipment for this shoot.

Our little caravan of vehicles included the production van, a college shuttle bus (posing as a Green Room/prop department), and a city garbage truck driven by one of my co-stars John Ervin.  In between scenes John and I chatted about the truck.  I know my seven year old son Tiernan would have loved to see his daddy squished into the cab to perform Cyril the Sea Serpent.  John told me that these rigs can get up to 65 mph, provided they are not hauling trash.

Wump Mucket Puppets Cyril the Sea Serpent and Terrence Burke

Cyril and Terrence are unaware that in a few minutes they will be squishing themselves into a trash can. The things we do for laughs! © 2014 Terrence Burke / Wump Mucket Puppets

Our first location was on on Heekin Avenue, in the Mt. Lookout neighborhood of Cincinnati. In this PSA we are informing residents who live on steep hills that they can get an exemption form and leave their trash on the curb.   This was the most difficult scene to shoot since we were working on a set of very steep, and cold, concrete steps. If that wasn’t hard enough, I had to puppeteer from inside a trash can, covered in make-believe trash!  It was not easy, yet we got the shots needed.    I won’t give any more away, yet I will promise you this, it’s VERY FUNNY!  Our director Zo Wesson was very encouraging and praised me for my performance multiple times.  I guess he knows that this puppet rocker ROCKS HARD!

Wump Mucket Puppets Coleman in Mt. Lookout

Coleman had a great time goofing around with the cast and crew in Mt. Lookout. © 2014 Terrence Burke / Wump Mucket Puppets

After our lunch break, the cast and crew made their way to Cincinnati’s Westwood neighborhood.  The video and lighting equipment was nearly set up when the sky above us began to darken.  Rain was determined to stop this from being shot.  No trouble, we still had a third location on the schedule, the city garbage truck garage!

Director Zo Wesson and crew set up a shot at the garbage truck garage. (L-R: Zo Wesson, John Ervin, Terrence Burke) © 2014 Terrence Burke /  Wump Mucket Puppets

For our final location we shot a few of Cyril’s intros, welcoming the viewer, and explaining where he’s going with his pal John.  This time we were protected from the rain, and I got to sit on an apple box!  Now that’s luxury.

Cyril hamming it up for the camera between takes while Terrence Burke listens to the director. © 2014 Terrence Burke / Wump Mucket Puppet.

Wump Mucket Puppets Cyril the Sea Serpent and Terrence Burke

Terrence Burke puppeteering Cyril the Sea Serpent. © 2014 Terrence Burke / Wump Mucket Puppets

Cyril and his co-star John Ervin are greeting viewers in this shot. © 2014 Terrence Burke / Wump Mucket Puppets

With several of our garage shots “in the can”, the crew began to pack up all of their video and lighting equipment.  And I thought puppeteers had lots of gear!  These folks filled two vans with their gear.

John Ervin with Cyril and Terrence Burke. © 2014 Terrence Burke / Terrence Burke

What I really enjoy about this production is that it’s cast and crew are all from Cincinnati.  Working with these fine folks was great.  Everyone gave it their all to make this production shine, even though the sun wasn’t.

Wump Mucket Puppets cast and crew of Cincinnati Public Services video

Our cast and crew. These folks ROCK! L-R (front row) Anastasia, Zo Wesson, Corry (back row) Bobby Gayol, Cyril the Sea Serpent, Terrence Burke, John Ervin, Paul Grundy. © 2014 Terrence Burke / Wump Mucket Puppets

 

 

Lights! Camera! Puppets!

Lights! Camera! Puppets!

Wump Mucket Puppets Cyril the Sea Serpent and Terrence Burke

Cyril the Sea Serpent with Terrence Burke.

Early tomorrow morning a new chapter in my adventures in puppetry begins.

The entire cast of Wump Mucket Puppets have been hired by the City of Cincinnati’s Department of Public Services to be the “spokes puppets” for the city’s new trash collection rules.

There are a total of five PSAs (public service announcements) being shot over two days in six locations around our great city.  Our co-stars include members of the Department of Public Services, Cincinnati broadcasting veteran Clyde Gray (former WCPO-TV anchor/CGA Public Relations Strategies), and Mayor John Cranely!

When the production is completed, the PSAs will be provided to broadcast television stations, websites, and social media to help inform the public of the changes in trash and recycling collection in Cincinnati.

We are thrilled to be a part of this production, and hope to be able to share a few photos from the shoot on our official Wump Mucket Puppets Facebook page.

One final thought,  I seem to recall a few other puppeteers who’s careers got a big boost by appearing in commercials back in the 1950s and 1960s.  Can anyone remember who they were?

Now I can honestly say, “I love trash!”

We’re in the news!

We’re in the news!

We hope that you are having a great summer.  Wump Mucket Puppets have been performing all around Cincinnati, and even in Kentucky a few times this summer.

We thank all our pals in the Cincinnati media for their recent help in promoting Wump Mucket Puppets.  You ROCK!

Here’s the recent interview in CityBeat newspaper with Terrence Burke

On the radio, WVXU spoke with Terrence Burke about Cincinnati’s puppetry scene

Even Cincinnati Magazine is helping us out and called us “zany”  -Thanks!

Thanks for reading or listening.  Now, back to rockin’ the puppets!

A Puppet Rocking Day!

Wump Mucket Puppets - Terrence Burke puppeteer and chracters

Cyril, Terrence, and Unka Unka ham it up for the camera.

A Puppet Rocking Day!

I have no time for a proper blog right now, as I am in the middle of building THREE new puppets, a mask, and more, yet I wish to share this with our friends and fans.
As many of you know Wump Mucket Puppets regularly donates performances to non-profit organizations. This afternoon’s show at Community Services of Northern Kentucky was one of those magical moments that once again proves to me that my path in puppetry is pretty clear; share the knowledge, spread the joy.

Several of our audience members approached me after today’s puppet show, with smiles so bright you could probably see them on the moon. They told me several times how much them LOVED my puppetry. One woman asked if I knew the legendary Cincinnati puppeteer Larry Smith, and said  that I reminder her of his show that she watched as a young girl. I told her that while I did not grow up in Cincinnati, I have met him several times at Cincinnati Area Puppetry Guild meetings and events. She then asked if Larry still performs, and I explained that he has retired from performing his lovable characters. To this she replied, “You should ask him if YOU can perform his puppets for us!”
I am very touched that someone sees a similarity in our styles, and that I was able to bring back a bit of her childhood for thirty minutes.  This is why dear friends and fans that PUPPETS ROCK!

Now back to getting messy with glue!

DVD review – Kukla, Fran and Ollie

DVD review – Kukla, Fran and Ollie

Summer is in full swing here at Wump Mucket Puppets super secret HQ.  We hope that all our pals both far and near are having a great summer!

This afternoon I met with a writer for Cincinnati’s weekly newspaper CityBeat for an interview.  Towards the start of the interview I was asked about my early childhood interest in puppetry, and what inspired me to become a puppeteer as an adult.  One of the names that quickly popped out of my mouth was none other than Burr Tillstrom.

Vintage 7up soft drink magazine advertisement featuring Kukla Fran and Ollie on the television.

Burr who?  I realize that his name may not be rolling off the tongues of many people these days, other than puppeteers and lovers of classic television.  So, here’s a short bio…

Burr Tillstrom was the creator and single puppeteer of the Kuklapolitans, a troupe of 19 very personable puppets who’s name is taken from their leader, a small clown named Kukla, who with his dragon pal Ollie and Fran Allison, the sole human in the show, performed “a children’s show for adults” on national television.  Did I mention that it was all ad-libbed on LIVE television?!?

My interest in KFO, as fans call them, began as a young boy in the early 1970s.  I loved watching them as the hosts of the CBS Children’s Film Festival every Saturday morning on television.  Ollie has always been my favorite, and certainly inspired me to create my very own dragon/serpent puppet, you know him as Cyril.

Wump Mucket Puppets with KFO DVD

Cyril and his puppeteer love watching Kukla, Fran and Ollie!

For many years the only option to revisit the gentle humor of KFO was old video tapes.  Eventually the internet provided us a chance to watch clips on the excellent and official Kukla.tv website.

It bothered me that this highly sought after program was seemingly lost to time.

Thank goodness I was wrong!  And the wait was well worth it!

Under the caring guidance of producer Mark Milano, who is also a big fan of the show, three fantastic two-disc DVD releases have brought KFO into the 21st century in grand style.  Not only have these wonderful programs been released on DVD for old fans to revisit, and make new fans of folks who may have not been around when they were first broadcast, but they are PACKED with bonus material!

Yes, as if it wasn’t enough to have KFO on DVD, we are treated to interviews, behind the scenes photographs, even home movies shot from the sidelines by director Lewis “Gommy” Gomavitz!

I could go on and on about how much I love these DVDs, yet I will simply suggest that if you have an interest in the history of either puppetry or television, buy them before they are all gone.  Gems such as these don’t stick around very long.

So what are you waiting for?  They are only available for purchase at Amazon.com.  Once you finish a few shows may I invite you to join me and other fans at KFO Facebook page.  We’re a friendly bunch of folks and would love for you to join us in celebrating Burr Tillstrom and his puppetry.

Wump Mucket Puppets are returning to FOX 19!

Wump Mucket Puppets are returning to FOX 19!

Wump Mucket Puppets at FOX 19 television studio

Cyril outside the FOX 19 studios in 2012.

We have been invited to appear on FOX 19 Morning Xtra on Friday June 6 at 10:25 am.

I am thrilled that my daughter Eleanor will be joining me as a guest on the show!

We plan on bringing Cyril, Unka Unka, and Kitty Quo Quo Quo Qua and hope that all our pals tune in this Friday.

We love to see your coloring pages!

We love to see your coloring pages!

Over the years we have probably passed out hundred, possibly thousands, of free coloring pages to our young fans after the show.  Wouldn’t it be a great idea to share these fantastic creations with the world?  Sure!

If you are the parent of a child who’s enjoyed our silliness, simply snap a photo of the finished Wump Mucket Puppets coloring page and either email it to us, or post it on our Facebook page.  Be sure to include your young artists first name (only) and age.  We’ll have Coleman post ’em up on our fan page lickety split!

Live outside the Greater Cincinnati area?  No worries, here’s a link to download a few coloring pages that Lara has drawn over the last several years: Coloring Pages Link

Here are a few coloring pages from our friends at Stepping Stones in Norwood, Ohio

Wump Mucket Puppets - Fan coloring page - Stepping Stones Ohio

Wump Mucket Puppets - Fan coloring page - Stepping Stones Ohio

Wump Mucket Puppets - Fan coloring page - Stepping Stones Ohio

Wump Mucket Puppets - Fan coloring page - Stepping Stones Ohio

Wump Mucket Puppets - Fan coloring page - Stepping Stones Ohio

We look forward to seeing YOUR coloring page soon!