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!”

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.

For the love of puppets

For the love of puppets

Wump Mucket Puppets is a labor of love.  When I say that I really mean it.  It’s work to juggle many hats in a family run independent puppet troupe.  Some days I must wear the daddy hat and help my daughter with her math worksheets.  Other days I wear the booking agent hat, and talk to event coordinators who are interested in having the Wump Mucket Puppets perform at their events this Summer.   Being a do-it-yourself puppeteer, I have my hands in every single step of producing a puppet show that I want to see.  I would have it no other way.

Don’t touch that dial!

Wump Mucket Puppets Terrence Burke and Cyril on Cincinnality studio set

What dial?  Most televisions are controlled by remote these days…  Well it sounds good as a lead in to this exciting bit of Wump Mucket Puppets news!  I had a great meeting with Dean Miuccio and Randi Douglas of the local television variety talk show Cincinnality this morning.  They have been keeping in touch with me for about a year, and we are now at the point to to plan something fun with my puppet characters to eventually shoot a few bits to include on their program.  I don’t want to give away too much right now, yet I will say that some very cool and funny ideas were brought up during our chat.  Please give their show a look, they are creating local television that features entertainers and musicians from the Cincinnati area.  Cincinnality airs on Sunday nights at 11:30 PM on WXIX FOX 19 in Cincinnati or watch clips on their video page.

Wump Mucket Puppets Cyril the Sea Serpent on the Ohio river

February is off to a grand start for the Wump Mucket Puppets!  We have a NEW puppet character joining the cast at our Happen show on Saturday, February 16th from 6 – 8 PM.  On Sunday February 24 we’ll be guests at MOTR Pub on the Ted Clark After Dark live talk show.  Please keep in mind that this event is for the “big kids”, that means adults.  Ted  will be interviewing me about puppets, pizza, cartoons, and more.  I may have a possible surprise to share with everyone!  Show up, have fun!

Next month I will have lived in the Queen City for 20 years.  There have been ups and downs along the way.  I am very pleased that most of those years were on the up and up and getting better all the time.  As a fun way to celebrate my twenty years as a Cincinnatian, I’ll be adding fun bits of local trivia, history, and a new song to the puppet show.  It’s my way to say thanks to  all the kind and friendly Cincinnatians that come and see my imagination given form, the Wump Mucket Puppets.

Flexitube ROCKS!

Wump Mucket Puppets loves the new Flexitube TV puppet show!

It’s been a very long time since I have been excited about watching something on television.  Nothing offered by the networks and cable channels seems worth my time.  However, through the magic of the internet we can watch television shows that are broadcast in other parts of the country!

When I learned that New York puppeteers Craig Marin and Olga Felgemacher of Flexitoon Puppet Theatre were creating a new television show “for children and other people” I was very excited.  The show is called Flexitube and it is FANTASTIC!  I felt like I was an eight year old boy again while I was watching the show on our computer with my daughter Eleanor and son Tiernan.  The jokes are funny, the music is catchy, and the puppetry is simply brilliant.  I loved all of the different styles of puppetry used in the show, and the “winks” to famous TV puppet shows from yesteryear.  Bravo Craig & Olga and company!  Here’s a a Vlog that I made this morning with Eleanor and my puppet character Cyril:

You too can watch Flexitube when ever you wish, I think I’ll watch every Saturday morning, by clicking this link: Flexitube On Demand

Gerry Anderson, your shows were FAB!

Wump Mucket Puppets pays tribute to Gerry Anderson

Wump Mucket Puppets Terrence Burke and children

Gerry Anderson fans Eleanor Burke (hiding behind a Stingray DVD), Terrence Burke, and Tiernan Burke

Our world begins 2013 (so much for that Mayan calendar!) without a man who’s puppet and science fiction television programs made many boys and girls happy in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  British television producer Gerry Anderson passed away on December 26, 2012.  His programs featured fantastic futuristic vehicles, realistic looking aircraft, and some cheesy humor too!  I became aware of the show Thunderbirds some time in the early 1970’s when I was a boy growing up in the Boston area.  I don’t recall exactly how I learned about it, yet I do remember that the television station that broadcast the show (WSMW TV-27) was too far away from where my family lived to watch the show with any form of clarity.  Being the A/V club member that I was back then, I figured out that our cousins lived in the broadcast area of TV-27.  FAB!  When we would visit I would attempt to convince my mother that I “had” to watch this show.  Sometimes I was able to convince her of this need, sometimes I would be told to go outside and play with my siblings and cousins.  From the bits of the program that I could view, I could determine that something remarkable was being broadcast, and it had puppets!

The future, as seen in 1975

Several years later, in which I was firmly a sci-fi fan,  I got word on the playground that a cool new television series was going to be on the air featuring two of the actors from Mission: Impossible (another show I loved).  It was 1975 and I was eleven years old when Space: 1999 was launched.  I recall that my brothers and I went crazy for this show.  We were fans of Star Trek, Voyage To the Bottom of the Sea, Batman, almost anything sci-fi related.  Space: 1999 was exactly the show for us, it had lots of spaceships, laser guns, explosions, plus a woman who could change into animals and monsters too!  WOW!  We would often pretend to be members of Moonbase Alpha in our backyard.  Lucky for us, and many other kids, there were a number of toys made to promote the series.  Of course, it was a “Space: 1999 Christmas” at our house that year!  I do wish I still had those toys. Sadly only a tiny part of my Eagle spaceship has survived from my youth to middle age.

Thank Goodness for DVD

Good thing that the future turned out a little different from how it was depicted on Thunderbirds and Stingray, on those shows everything was saved on magnetic tape!  With the invention of digital media adult fans of Gerry Anderson’s programs could now “stand by for action” once again and re-watch the shows that they loved as children.  For me many of his older programs were completely new since I was only familiar with Thunderbirds, UFO, and Space: 1999.  I have since enjoyed watching the children’s shows on DVDs with my children, who in their own ways have become fans of Stingray (Eleanor) and Thunderbirds (Tiernan).  We’ll have to wait a few years before we watch UFO and Space: 1999, as these were adult programs with adult themes and situations.

Wump Mucket Puppets G'Wazzl with UFO toy

G'Wazzl wonders if Commander Edward Straker ever encountered a UFO like this

So thank you Gerry Anderson, and all the puppeteers, designers, actors, model makers, and crew who created these FAB-ulous visions of what the future may have looked like.  You’ld be happy to know that the shows you made are still entertaining children, and their geeky daddies in the 21st century!

The holidays are here!

As I rehearse our holiday show’s songs, I remember being a boy growing up in the late 60’s and watching the Christmas specials on TeeVee.  I love the Rankin/Bass produced shows the most, with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” being my favorite.  The puppets were great, the music catchy, and the show has a Bumble in it!

Giving this a bit of thought, it seems to me that watching “Rudolph” in the late 60’s may have been the foundation for my interest in strange creatures, oh and puppets too!

Here’s a clip of Bumble to enjoy:

After watching that, I noticed that Bumble’s roar sounds a bit like this creature that I enjoyed quite a bit in my youth:

Who would have guessed that 40+ years later, that my puppet show’s lead characters would be a Sasquatch (or Abominable Snowman) and a Sea Serpent?

Hmmmm…  Interesting.

Wump Mucket Puppets with young fans at Taft Museum of Art Cincinnati

 

Sesame Street season 43 is here!

I was not sure what to expect from the season premiere of Sesame Street this past Monday morning. I knew that it would be on at 10 AM as usual, yet had not read anything about the new season.

My wife was not feeling well and stayed home from work. It’s rare that all four members of our little family are together, so I was happy that we would spend an hour watching the new episode of Sesame on the couch. It brought back happy memories from when Eleanor and Tiernan were much smaller.

Without giving too much away, I will say that I have not laughed as hard as I did watching Cookie Monster try to join the Cookie Connoisseurs Club. I consider this
“Must See Sesame”!  What a great show to start a new season, and on Jim Henson’s birthday too.

Now me go get COOOKIE!

Good Morning Cincinnati TV appearance

The Wump Mucket Puppets return to the Cincinnati television airwaves Thursday September 13th around 7:15am to appear as guests on Good Morning Cincinnati on Local 12.2.

Local 12 Good Morning Cincinnati

Cyril and Coleman will be chatting about our big show on Fountain Square this coming Saturday, September 15th at 3pm and 5pm as part of the Live It Up Downtown event. The event is family friendly & FREE and open to the public.  We hope you can join the fun!

Live It Up Downtown logo

If you are one of our many out of town fans, we hope to have a recording of our television appearance available for your viewing pleasure.

Wump Mucket Puppets makes it’s Cincinnati TV debut!

What a day it’s been!  I did not sleep very well last night as I anticipated my guest appearance on Cincinnati television station FOX 19’s Morning Xtra program this morning.  Of course a few minor things happened as I prepared to leave Wump Mucket’s super secret HQ in Northside.  The GPS would not stay in it’s base, so I left it on my lap, then there was traffic on the highway due to an accident (with 4 fire trucks!), and finally the @#$!ing GPS directed me to the BACK of the TV station!  Argh!  Good thing I left early.

Cyril at FOX 19

Cyril at FOX 19

Everyone at FOX 19 was very friendly and made me feel welcome.   I hope that they will invite me and the puppets back on in the not too distant future because Coleman is rather ticked off that he didn’t get to come along.  The things I do for these silly puppets!

Terrence Burke and Cyril at FOX 19

Terrence and Cyril in the Green Room at FOX 19

For those of you who missed the show, or live outside the Cincinnati area, here’s a link to the video:

Thanks Frank, Tracey, Sheila, and the entire FOX 19 crew, you know that PUPPETS ROCK!