Hello 2014! Are you ready to ROCK?!?

Hello 2014!      Are you ready to ROCK?!?

It’s a new year!  Yippee!  I look at it as a blank sheet of paper waiting for a doodle, a song, or a skit to work into the puppet show.  I have already started a list of goals to work towards and would love to share a few with you, our fabulous friends and fans!

New puppet characters!  In the new year we will introduce two new member to our growing cast of silly puppets.  Both have been “on the drawing board” for a some time and it’s due time that they joined the fun!  First will be this guy, Unka Unka the Caveman!

Eleanor with her concept sketch and the sculpted head of Unka Unka the Caveman.

Eleanor with her concept sketch and the sculpted head of Unka Unka the Caveman.

Next will be our second Sasquatch character, who will be named Cousin Snavely.  The voice is sounding a bit like actor Charles Nelson Reilly.  He played Horatio J. HooDoo on the 1970s kid’s TV show LidsvilleHere’s the opening theme on YouTube.

Coleman the Sasquatch with Bigfoot crossing sign.

Watch out for Sasquatch!

Our third puppet project with be a much needed rebuild of on of our most loved characters, Coleman the Sasquatch.  This little guy is over 35 years old!  It’s quite amazing that he has held up as long as he has.  The mouthplate inside the puppet is deteriorating with every show.  We’ll be sure to share this process as his rebuild begins.

Of course that’s not all!  We have a couple of fun new skits and songs in the works, which we think you will enjoy.  Here’s a short video with a sneak peek of a few of the tune ideas:

Living the puppet life – Part 2

There was so much magic packed into our week at Swarthmore College, I must continue to share it with you!

Tonight’s blog focuses on a few of the puppet films that we watched on the lawn.  I love to laugh, and these films made me howl!  Here are a few previews:

Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas

MORE INFO

 

Hey Geronimo – Dreamboat Jack (aka The Greatest Puppet Chase Ever Filmed)

Film by Pete Kilroy and a younger Joe Brumm
Info about Hey Geronimo

Milano (Music Video) by Lolly Lardpop

Info about Lolly Lardpop and her puppeteer Leslie Carrara-Rudolph

These films were presented in the Handmade Puppet Dreams film series produced by Heather Henson.  I am trying to bring this film series to a screen in Cincinnati in the not so distant future.

I hope you enjoy these funny films as much as I did, sharing a blanket with my puppeteer pals -and a few insects.

More rambling about my adventures in puppet festival land and thoughts on punk ukulele soon!

Wump Mucket Puppets Facebook 300 quest continues!

Wump Mucket Puppets Facebook 300 quest continues!

Wump Mucket Puppets Coleman the Sasquatch and Eleanor

Wump Mucket Puppets Coleman the Sasquatch and Eleanor

We are pulling out all the stops tonight!  Coleman has called in his number one fan, Eleanor Burke, to make a video to help the Wump Mucket Puppets reach and BEAT their goal of 300 likes on the official Wump Mucket Puppets Facebook page.  Not only will the 300th person to like our page have a tune recorded on video for them to show the whole wide world that they are pals with the wacky (yet wholesome) Wump Mucket Puppets, but we will throw in this incredible pack of Anastasi trading cards:

Wump Mucket Puppets Coleman the Sasquatch with Anastasia trading cards

Here’s tonight’s exciting video:

What a thrilling contest this is!  Have you liked it?  Have you liked Wump Mucket Puppets on Facebook?  You didn’t really think that this was Rod Stewart?  It’s NOT Rod.

NOT Rod Stewart

Thanks to everyone who has joined the fun so far.  We need your help, so feel free to share our silly little video with the whole world and let ’em know that Wump Mucket Puppets ROCK!

Wump Mucket Puppets 300 Facebook pals contest

Wump Mucket Puppets 300 Facebook pals contest

We are thrilled to announce our first contest of 2013!

Really folks, this is going to be lots of fun!  We are trying to reach 300 (more would be fantastic!) likes on the Wump Mucket Puppets Facebook page.  To entice new pals we are offering a FUN-TASTIC prize of a custom made video tune for the winner to share their good taste in puppet troupes with the whole wide world!

Wump Mucket Puppets Coleman the Sasquatch with Tiernan Burke

Coleman the Sasquatch and his pal Tiernan Burke

You would simply not believe what we did to make this contest a special one.  First, we flew our furry puppet star Coleman the Sasquatch in from his vacation in Peru via Learjet.  Then we enlisted the help of our second oldest fan in the world, none other than the one and only Tiernan Burke.  Finally, brace yourselves, our camera crew were allowed into the super secret Wump Mucket Puppets Head Quarters!  It was amazing to see Terrence Burke’s “Desk/Mess”!  It was so exciting we are still covered in goosebumps.

Here’s the video we made at Wump Mucket HQ:

Amazing stuff!  We know that we can count on all our pals to help us reach this goal of 300 Facebook pals really soon.  Please share this with all your friends as soon as you can.  The suspense may keep us up all night wondering…

Wump Mucket Puppets Who Will Be 300 sign

Now what will the Wump Mucket Puppets do to reach 400 likes?   Hmmm….

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

What have they done to my Muppets, Ma?

I knew that the day would come.  I had an idea what to expect.  I wish it was better, but it wasn’t.  What am I talking about?  Disney’s “The Muppets” (2011) of course.

“I’m not crazy about it.” – Frank Oz on “The Muppets” (2011) source

Wait!  Stop press!  I am a puppeteer.  I consider Jim Henson and fellow puppeteers some of the people  who inspired me to become a puppeteer.  Sadly most of those people have either passed away, or choose not to perform the puppet characters that they helped create.  Of course the puppet people who may read this know where I am leading with this, but for those of you new to The Muppets I’ll bring you up to speed.  I am referring to Frank Oz, the original puppeteer of Miss Piggy, Animal, and Fozzie Bear.  When I read that he felt that the script  didn’t respect the characters I was worried.  I am okay with new puppeteers performing The Muppets, it’s the only way to keep them alive for new audiences, what worried me the most is that the scriptwriter would not understand what makes The Muppets, “The Muppets”.  Sadly I was right about this.

Jason Segal says he is a HUGE fan of The Muppets.  He loved watching them as a child.  Yet does being a high profile fan qualify him to relaunch a beloved group of characters that have been most often considered family entertainment?  No! No! No!  Sure he has marquee value, but little else when it comes to The Muppets.  Two examples in the film, that he wrote and starred in, are the scene where The Muppets find Animal trying  to control his anger.

This scene really disturbed me.  I nearly stopped the DVD that we borrowed from our public library (sorry Disney).  If Mr. Segal considers this to be family entertainment, I pity his children -if he ever becomes a parent.  Which makes me wonder, how can someone write a film (that is marketed to families and children) who is not a parent himself?  I have given up on Disney as a producer of quality family entertainment, they haven’t produced any in decades (that includes “Lion King” which they stole from Tezuka Productions).  The other scene that stood out as an example of Segal’s lowest common denominator humor is the scene that Fozzie Bear stoops to wearing farting shoes to get a laugh.  Really?  The Muppets were smarter than that.  Even my five and a half year old son can come up with a funnier bit with very little effort.

As the DVD played in our living room, with an audience ranging in age from five and a half to almost fourty-eight, we began to let our selves become distracted from the film that we had been looking forward to watching as a family.  Tiernan looked at his train magazine, Eleanor and Lara continued to watch the movie… I think.  I am not certain of this because I fell asleep.  The Muppets new movie failed to keep my attention.

Perhaps I will watch this film again many years from now and find gold nuggets of Muppet-fun hidden in the Disney-sludge.  My wife gave me her opinion of the film as we put away the popcorn bowls, she felt that they looked like Muppets but lacked the soul that made them so appealing years ago.  Maybe the next Muppets film will capture the style of humor that made the characters so memorable.  I suggest that Disney hire Roger Langridge to write the script.  His Muppets comic books are excellent.  He understands Muppet-style humor.

I rate this film a D for Disney.

Loveland Frog found in the Puppeteer’s Sketchbook

Performing our shows at Julian’s Deli in Loveland, Ohio (next show on 7/15 @ 2 pm!) has inspired me to create a new puppet character based on the one and only Loveland Frog!  What?  You’ve never heard of this strange creature?   The Loveland Frog hasn’t been seen in many years, so I am writing a skit for the show titled “The Legend of the Loveland Frog” and hope to bring this little cryptid some long overdue recognition.

Sketch of Loveland Frog puppet idea

Here are a few sketches that Lara and I have come up with as we develop this new character for the puppet show.

Sketches of Loveland Frog puppet ideas - Wump Mucket Puppets      Sketches of Loveland Frog puppet ideas - Wump Mucket Puppets

And here is a short video with me working out the puppet’s voice with a snippet of a song:

The ball is rolling for this new puppet character, soon we’ll need a name.  Any thoughts?

Send your name ideas to our official Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/wumpmucketpuppets

Ribbit!

Tee Vee Land here we come!

In less than 48 hours Cyril the Sea Serpent will have made his broadcast television debut.  We hope that you will watch us on FOX 19’s Morning Xtra show on Wednesday May 2nd at 9 AM.  If you live outside of the Cincinnati area, don’t worry, we’ll be sure to post a link to the video later in the day.

I am excited (and a bit nervous) about the idea that my puppetry is about to take a giant step forward.  My childhood dream of being a performing puppeteer came true in 2010 and has gradually gained a steady audience since.  Who knows what will happen next?!?

Things are about to get very busy for me and my puppet characters.  We have a few new songs and funny bits to perform for our fans, our first mini-comic is ready to read and color, and perhaps a surprise or two.  Thanks to all of you who read my blog, follow us on Facebook & Twitter, watch our videos on Youtube, and most of all attend our puppet shows.

Here’s a fun little video of my daughter (and future puppeteer partner) Eleanor singing with Cyril, feel free to sing along if you know the tune.

 

Puppets + Pizza = ?

What began as a few sketches on a piece of paper this past Summer is now many zeros and ones on your computer screen. What in the world am I babbling about? Why the promotional video that Wump Mucket Puppets have created for Cincinnati Pizza shop NYPD Pizza of course.

Puppets have been the “spokes things” for products for decades. Burr Tillstrom’s Kukla & Ollie pitched RCA washing machines in the 1950’s. Long before Jim Henson was a household name his Muppets were selling Wilkins Coffee and LaChoy “Chinese” food. I am very proud to have the opportunity of join these legends of puppetry, by having my puppet characters help promote a local, family owned business that I am a regular customer of for many years.

Who knows, perhaps this is the start of something bigger for me and my little gang of puppets?

Now go and order yourself some pizza at www.NYPDpizza.com   -tell ’em Cyril sent ya!

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.