Let the puppet pizza fun begin!

I am very please to say that the video that I have created for our good friends at NYPD Pizza has been shot, well at least 98% of it.  This will be the first time that Wump Mucket Puppets have created something with their brand of silliness to promote a business.  Who knows gang, this could be the start of something big!

G'Wazzl and Cyril Wump Mucket Puppets NYPDpizza.com

G'Wazzl and Cyril playing themselves in the NYPDpizza.com video

After a few delays, such as rain and a puppeteer with a very bad cold, we were able to visit the playground in Parkers Woods in Northside to shoot the commercial this morning.  Many thanks to our good friend Marcelina Robledo who ran the camera, and helped keep the puppets in line.  Check out her blog at marcelinarobledo.com

 

Here is a little teaser for you to enjoy while the video is “cooked” into a tasty slice of puppety pizza fun:

As they used to say on TV, stay tuned for more exciting Wump Mucket Puppets news!

The puppeteer’s sketchbook – Cyril

This past weekend’s performance had me dragging out my old sketchbook to share with the children in the audience.  I was demonstrating how I create a puppet character, and told them everything starts with my imagination, which leads to an idea, that ends up inside the sketchbook, to eventually be made into a performing puppet.

I had a recent conversation with a neighbor, who had brought her daughter to a show.  She asked me how did I become interested in puppetry, to which I replied (what many of our regular readers already know) “Sesame Street”.  Yet, as the conversation continued while I broke down the puppet stage,  I remembered how entranced I was with cartoons as a child.  Heck, I still dig ’em!  I recalled that I somehow had learned at a very young age, to create a cartoon, you had to make many drawings, that were then colored, then filmed frame-by-frame, and eventually added the voice, music, sound effects.  That seemed like far too much work for me.  So, I began to see the connection between puppets and cartoon characters.  Both could tell jokes, tell silly stories, even sing.  Yet it was the puppet that was real.  The puppet could ad-lib, change it’s voice, even pick something up with it’s mouth or hands during the show.  I have yet to find a cartoon character that can do all of that.

So, back to the sketchbook…  Here are a few very early sketches that the Cyril the Sea Serpent (or Cyril the Cincinnati Sea Serpent as I called him early on):

Drawing of Cyril puppet by Terrence Burke Wump Mucket Puppets

This is the earliest drawing I have of Cyril, dated 4-8-2001.

Here is a darker close-up of the puppet’s face:

Cyril puppet drawing by Terrence Burke Wump Mucket Puppets

The note says "Eyes have eyelids".

These sketches were made by my wife Lara Rumizen, who is very helpful in refining my puppet designs into practical, workable puppets.  Lara’s small doodle is much closer to the final puppet than my original sketch.

Cyril puppet drawing by Lara Rumizen Wump Mucket Puppets

Notice the catfish-like tendils that were never used on the puppet.

At last, a recent photo of the puppet that we know and love… Cyril

Cyril the Sea Serpent puppet Terrence Burke Wump Mucket Puppets

Our dear friend Cyril the Sea Serpent.

I hope that you have enjoyed this behind the scenes look into the creation of my puppet characters.  Please continue to read the Wump Mucket Puppets blog for future editions of “The Puppeteer’s Sketchbook”.

 

I am a proud Daddy puppeteer tonight

It’s probably true that most parents are happy when their children take an interest in something that they both enjoy.  Some dads may share their love of baseball (my father was a HUGE baseball fan), or perhaps a mother may enjoy gardening with her children.  Every family has their own shared interests.  In our house, we are into puppets… a little bit.

Today’s puppet show performance was very special to me.  It was the first time that I performed with someone else, that someone was my almost seven year old daughter Eleanor.  She asked me a couple of days ago if she could “do something” in the show.  Seeing that she seemed very interested I told her sure, and asked if she wished to perform.  Earlier in the day she even put on a little “warm-up” puppet show for her brother Tiernan and I to enjoy:

About an hour before I loaded the puppet gear into our car, Eleanor seemed hesitant about performing.  As much as I wanted her to perform with me, I was not going to push her.  “Besides”, I told her, “you’ll be inside the puppet stage with me where no one can see you.”  That seemed to settle her fears, and she was ready to perform with her toy puppet “Pinky”.

Cyril the Sea Serpent Terrence Burke Wump Mucket Puppets

A father and daughter, and their puppets.

As you can imagine, my children have been around puppets their entire lives.  When they were very young, I would perform my puppets to entertain them.  Eleanor would often ask to talk to Cyril, and would seem to have “private” conversations with the puppet -even though her daddy was right there operating the puppet.  Somehow I doubt that will happen when she’s a teenager.  Which is why I am happy that she has the interest in puppetry now while she is young and able to use her young imagination right along with me.  Who knows?  Maybe Eleanor and Tiernan will be the second generation of the Wump Mucket Puppets.

 

The creation of our new Autumn coloring page

I am very happy to tell our young fans that we will be offering a new Wump Mucket Puppets coloring page at our Northside Farmers Market performance tomorrow (Oct. 5th) at 6 PM.

Before I give you a sneak peek, here’s a look at the original idea that was drawn by my almost seven year old daughter Eleanor:

Eleanor Burke's Wump Mucket Puppets Autumn coloring page

Eleanor Burke's Wump Mucket Puppets Autumn coloring page.

 

 

I love how she came up with an Autumn themed coloring page that features all of the Wump Mucket Puppets characters.

 

 

 

Next we have the rough draft,  drawn by my very artistic wife Lara:

Wump Mucket Puppets Autumn coloring sheet rough draft

Lara's rough draft for the Autumn coloring page

 

Lara expanded on Eleanor’s idea of the puppets popping up out of a pile of leaves.  Did you ever do that as a child?  Or perhaps you still do.  Go ahead, admit it, leaves can be fun.

 

 

 

Finally we have the finished coloring page:

Wump Mucket Puppets Autumn coloring page 2011

The finished Wump Mucket Puppets Autumn Coloring page by Lara Rumizen.

 

I added the Wump Mucket Puppets logo so our friends, new and old, will remember our little puppet troupe.  I am very lucky to have two very talented ladies in my family that help make the puppets look great.

 

 

 

We would love to see your completed Wump Mucket Puppets coloring pages!  We’ll even add a few to our fan page of the website to share with the world.

Parents, email a photo of your child’s completed Wump Mucket Puppets coloring page, along with your child’s first name and age to wumpmucket @ fuse.net

Watching Sesame Street….by myself

As you may know, the children’s television program Sesame Street has always been very dear to me.  Watching it back in 1969 sparked my young imagination and inspired me to become a puppeteer.

Eleanor and her Daddy "play" piano with a Cookie Monster puppet.

When I became a father in 2004, I was very happy that I could once again enjoy the “sunny days” on Sesame Street.  Our daughter Eleanor picked up on her Daddy’s interest in all things Sesame quickly.  Some of her first baby words were “Ku Ku” (for Cookie Monster) and “Bi Bi” (for Big Bird).  She loved sitting with me on the couch every morning at ten to see what our pals on Sesame Street were going to do.   If you are a parent, you know that there are literally TONS of Sesame Street products for young children.  We bought, or were given, many of them. Both of our children played with their Sesame Street toys for many happy hours. I was often asked to supply the voices for our collection of Sesame Street puppets and toys.  Imagine that!

My daughter Eleanor watching Cookie Monster on TV, 2005

Yet, this past week I was watching a few episodes from the 42nd season of Sesame Street all by myself.  Eleanor and Tiernan were off at school and I had no one to share my thoughts about the new episodes with.  They had “graduated” from The Street just as I had many years ago.  I am sure that many parents have feelings of sadness as their children out grow certain television shows, clothes, toys.  I know that I have them and can expect more feelings similar to these in the years to come as my children learn and grow beyond the happy times we had watching Sesame Street together.

Thank you Sesame Street, for those sunny days I had with Eleanor and Tiernan, they will forever be cherished memories.

Can you tell us how to get to Sesame Street? Eleanor and her Daddy, 2005

 

 

 

 

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.