I started my career performing for a company who hired me to puppeteer a one-man kids show live, at festivals and fairs around the states. Soon after I became a Muppeter for The Jim Henson Company working in television, parades and film puppetry. Puppet Party Time is a return to my roots as a puppeteer. I now have a 2.5 year old son. After seeing his face light up when I perform puppet shows for him, it inspired me to create Puppet Party Time. Performing for television and film is fantastic and I still freelance however, there is never any kids around to laugh. Just a bunch of teamsters. Puppet Party Time, is a return to why I got into puppets in the first place, to make kids laugh, to have fun and to party.
How did you choose the name?
Have you ever met a puppet that DIDN’T like to PARTY?
Describe a typical show.
Our current show “Buddy’s Comedy Variety Show” is a classic call and response elements and well as more contemporary humor and pop culture references. The show starts with Buddy trying to find his pet dog before the show. After he gets his ”act together” Buddy host a wild and crazy variety stage show, with the help from his best friend Tamra. Together they bring out different specialty acts who engage the audience. It’s a crazy fun ride with music and puppet acts.
How do you come up with particular characters for the puppets?
The puppets are handmade in our workshop. After construction is complete, we have a improv interview process for each character to develop each of the puppets personalities. We explore who they are, their likes, dislikes, favorite foods…etc. It’s a very organic process that starts from the the first time the puppet talks and literally ”finds” its voice to the first sketch on paper.
Tell us about Buddy and how The Bully Show started and how you see it impacting your kid audiences.
Bullying is a serious problem for many children in schools around the world. Being picked on is not fun. Finding yourself the victim of such torment can affect all aspects of your life as you grow older. Puppet Party Time strongly believes that all children deserve a safe and nurturing environment. I myself was bullied when I was a child. I took inspiration from my own experience and transformed it into the Buddy Bully show. The show is told from both the point of view of the bully and the kid he picks on. I feel it is important to not just focus on the victim. The kid who does the bulling must have a need that is not being met in their life that makes them feel the need to push others around. I believe that if we can explore both sides of this problem we will find a solution together and move forward to help battle this very important topic in our schools. By starting a dialogue with kids in schools it will help to bring these issues to the light. Once they are out in the open it is our hope that it will no longer have the power that it holds over the kids.
How did the idea for the puppet building workshop come into being?
We are always asked how do we make our puppets and how to find sources to build their very own. To answer folks we developed a really fun arts and craft puppet building workshop. Turns out the workshop need is great! Our workshops make building a puppet fun, easy and more popular than ever! Anyone can build a puppet, you just need the right materials and the time to try your hand at something new.
Recently, I watched BEING ELMO and I have to tell you its one of the few movies where I actually had that warm, glowing feeling after I’d seen it. What, in your opinion, is it about puppets that appeals to kids? To adults?
Puppets are a great tool to tell a story. They really help to transport the audience to a new and wonderful place. I think the reason puppets take us to that warm and fuzzy place is because puppets are a reflection of people and breakdown the human spirit to the basics elements. Puppets have no room for “Baggage” or “drama” they are pure and fun. They create a safe place to play and enjoy the world around us, full of wonder. Puppets are also made of soft cuddly materials, for the most part, and welcome even the hardest minded adult to be a kid again. It is really fun to see a parent come to one of our shows, look bored and upset that they cant be off ”playing golf” or something and it to see them transformed with a smile on their face and a giggle in their heart by the end of the show. Not to mention, our Puppets love to Party!