Tag: henson alternative

Puppet Up! Tour Diary – March 18, 2015 – Kirk Douglas Opening Night


Puppet Up returned, once again, to the Kirk Douglas Theatre for four shows in March of 2015.  I was lucky enough to be cast in two of those four show, the opening and the closing.  As, I’m sure, you know, I love being in Puppet Up.  It’s, really, my favorite thing to do, so to say I was excited was an understatement.

Since it was opening night of the show, our call time was early because there was a little bit of tech to go through.  I never mind tech because it does give us a little chance to practice technique and our crew, and the crew of the Kirk Douglas Theatre, are fantastic, so it’s never a chore.

Once we we sure all the tech end of things was running smoothly, we broke for dinner and to get changed into out ‘puppet blacks’ for the show.  Eight o’clock rolled around and the Kirk Douglas was packed with folks ready for some puppet anarchy.  There was an empty seat or two, but the place was pretty full, especially for a Wednesday night.

The show was a big ball of fun.  The suggestions were ‘out there’ and that made it even more fun.  Right off the bat someone shouted pro-wrestling as a suggestion.  Glad I was in that scene.  Some other suggestions were a carpool in a smart car from Texas to Uzbekistan, sex toy gumball machine, and a scene that had to end with the line ‘Pull my finger.’

We did the mini puppet variety show and Colleeen’s host was as wicked as ever.  The suggestion for the first act, that Allan Trautman, Tim Blaney and myself were performing with bunnies was ‘Mid-Air Contortion’.  What followed was pretty funny with Allan, Tim and I trying to find ways to put make the puppets appear they were doing mid-air contortion.  It devolved into us basically throwing the puppets back and forth to each other.  The audience loved it.  The next act was Allan and Peggy doing Jazz Dancing and they nailed it.  It’s pretty hard to describe what they did, but those puppets were Jazz Dancing for sure!  Finally, was the Alien Barbershop.  The suggestion was Necrophilia.  My initial thought was to do a verse that rhymed ‘wife’ (of formaldehyde) with the word stiff.  But then I tried to come up with a rhyme for formaldehyde.  The result, for Necrophilia was:

I love the smell
Of formaldehyde,
Because that means,
I’m going for a ride.

I actually liked this one a little better because in my mind, it left the audience to connect the dots of what I mean meant by ‘going for a ride.’

The highlight of the night, for me, was performing I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face with Ted.  I’ve done this before but especially now, while reading Jim Henson’s biography, the piece took on a little more meaning.  And Ted and I agreed that last night’s version was probably the best we’d ever performed it.

So, a wonderful opening at the Kirk Douglas, we got a standing ovation.  I cannot wait to do the show again Saturday!

Puppet Up!


Tags : , , , ,

Puppet Up at The Kirk Douglas Theatre – Recap


I was very fortunate to be involved in three Puppet Up! Uncensored shows at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City, CA this past Thursday through Saturday.  While I did write individual blogs on each of these nights, I’ve decided not to publish them.  Instead I’m just going to do this post that will wrap up the experience.  The reason I’m not publishing them is just because these were local shows, we were trying out new things and there were some things in the individual blogs that I just didn’t feel like putting out there.  You’ll get a nice overview here, if you continue to read on.

Our three shows were at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.  It’s a beautiful space with a great stage.  Unlike other stages we’ve performed in, this one was on the ground floor and the seats were raked at a step angle.  The thing I liked about this was that the audience was right there, at the lip of the stage.  Sometimes I feel a big space between the stage and the audience, say for an orchestra pit, will cause a dip in the audience enjoyment.  This is especially true with comedy.  In comedy clubs no one wants to sit up front because they thing the comedians will pick on them.  I’ve performed several places where the whole front will be empty and this will make it harder for the comedians to connect with the audience.  This was not that case at the Kirk Douglas.  And as a side note, the crew and staff at the Kirk Douglas are just amazing.  Such a pleasure to work with them all.

The fan base for puppet improv is alive and well in Southern California as the shows sold out almost immediately.  It really was spectacular how quickly the tickets went.  Each house was just filled with people who were rabid for some puppet anarchy and we gave it to them.

The puppeteer who was sick was fine the next day.  Just a weird bug.  All is well.

– Thursday, February 20, 2014 –

The Thursday show was interesting.  We had rehearsed the show with six puppeteers but just minutes before the show,one of the puppeteers became ill and was not able to go on.  Being an improv show, we improvised!  We, quickly, re-blocked the opening and then hit the stage.  It was a wild night and I got to fill in so many great spots.  Lady Singer on Face, Big Java in Java, I got to use the Henson Digital Puppetry Studio in that scene.  A lot of fun.  Moment of the night, for me, was right after performing Big Java and crossing to my chair, Brian Henson, who was also filling in here and there in spots had a big smile on his face and was laughing and he shook my hand and said, “that was great.”  Pretty amazing.

I also got to do my favorite structure, Alien Barbershop.  The topic was: umbrella.  Yes, that was it.  I went for it though.

Take an umbrella
They always warn ya
But I don’t have one,
I’m from southern California.

Not much of a hilarious joke.  It got a good laugh but I was more proud of my rhyme for California.

The cast this night was the cast that will be headed to Australia in March.  Australia, you have been warned, the puppets are coming.


– Friday, February 21, 2014 –

The Friday night show was different in that I was slated to host this show.  The cast was a ‘mix and match’ cast of really amazing puppeteers and improvisers and it was my job to lead them all though the evening.  The show went really well.  The puppeteers were all fantastic andthere was some super funny stuff.  Everyone said I did great as the host.  I’m much harder on myself though.  Being the host of this show is really complex and it’s a tribute to Patrick that he handles it so easily.  There is so much you have to keep track of and looking back I realized that while I did a good job as the host, it wasn’t GREAT because I wasn’t having fun.  I needed to relax, not worry so much, trust everything was going to be fine and just have fun.  It’s something I look forward to as we head out on the short US tour before Australia where I will get to host four of the five shows.

– Saturday, February 22, 2014 –

This show was amazing.  From top to bottom.  The audience was amazing and our improv and puppetry was fantastic.  It was a great group of puppeteers I was honored to perform with.  Each scene was really high quality and the puppetry was amazing.  Our version of WINDY that night was one of the best I’ve seen.  Victor’s Usher bit to open act 2 is out of this world.  And the show was just really amazing.

I made my Little Java debut and it went well.  I really need to study the original because I feel there’s some beats I’m missing and I need to find out what they are in order to really hit the comedy right.

Also got to do the Alien Barbershop again and it may be my favorite of all time.  The topic was Children’s Fight Club.  My rhyme:

The children in Fight Club
Are as tough as shit.
They beat each other up
But they don’t talk about it.

It killed.

Another highlight of this show was getting to do the job interview/audience participation bit with Brian Henson.  So much fun.


The whole show was just fantastic and I’m excited to be headed out with this cast on the mini-US tour.

So three fun shows here in Southern California.  A lot of people said they wished we were running longer, so who knows?  Maybe there will be more during the summer.

Every time I get to do this show I say it is the most fun thing I get to do.  And it is.  And I am unbelievably lucky that I get to do it.

And I can’t wait to do it again.

Tags : , , , , , , , ,

Puppet Up Toronto Tour Diary – Day 5 – TV!

Before I tell you the story of today, I have to tell you about my fellow improviser, Brian Clark. Brian is just a great guy who embodies fun wherever he goes. He’s a true friend and can always be counted on to come up with a crazy idea in an improv or in just normal, day to day, conversation.

Yesterday, Brian got it in his head that we should have a Puppet Up Pool Party at noon at the hotel’s indoor pool. He was very insistent that everyone attend, so last night I knew if I did one thing today it would be to be at that pool party.

I was up early at 7AM this morning because I had to meet in the lobby at 8AM to go do a quick television spot to promote the show. I met Julianna in the lobby and we were off. By 8:20AM I was in my mic and we were on the streets of Toronto to shoot this quick 90 second spot. I was extremely happy it was only 90 seconds as it was COLD and I couldn’t wear my heavy jacket because the sleeve wouldn’t fit into the puppet!


The piece went great. I’ll try and find a copy of it online. It was short and just basically got across the info of the show. The interviewer, Rosey Edeh, spent most of the time talking to the puppet which is, actually, the best compliment you can pay a puppeteer.

At about 8:45AM I was back in my room and I crawled back into bed to catch some sleep before the Pool Party.

I woke up and looked at the clock…12:45PM! Yikes! I was late! I donned my suit and dashed downstairs and, luckily, the ‘party’ was still in full swing. Spent about 230 minutes or so swimming, then a quick hop in the sauna.

Later that afternoon, I explored Toronto a bit. Had lunch, which included French Fries with Gravy and explored a bit more. Then back to the hotel to chill a bit. Around 4:30PM Brian, Dan RIng and I went and had some dinner right next to the theatre and it was showtime!


Another great show tonight. The theatre was packed with very few empty seats and the audience was fantastic. We actually got a standing ovation.

20131025-005039.jpg (Patrick & Greg)

20131025-005253.jpg (Julianna & Amanda our Puppet Wrangler)

Some great scenes tonight. A Manners Movie about the dangers of walking and texting, A Bedtime Story called: Shopping At Ikea a.k.a. The Diarrhea Monster (that’s what the audience wanted), the climactic scene from a play called The Menstruation Proclamation (again, the audience wanted it) and a fantastic date scene.

Alien Barbershop got a good laugh. The topic was Government Shutdown. My, wordy, rhyme was:

The Government’s Shutdown
The Senators aren’t working today,
But nothing’s really changed
They never work anyway.

Had another good run at Java as well. Still trying to nail down certain beats, but I’m getting better at it. I think doing Java may be my new favorite piece above Alien Barbershop. It’s just really an honor to be in that piece.

Lots of fun in the lobby after the show meeting the audience and posing for pictures with the puppets. After the show it was back to the hotel to write the words you’re now reading.

I’m truly lucky to get to do this and I’m thankful for every minute. I never want it to end. Now we head into our weekend shows including two shows on Saturday. I can’t wait!

Tags : , , ,