Puppet Up!

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Puppet Up! – Uncensored is a live show produced by The Jim Henson Company combining puppetry and improvisational comedy created by Brian Henson and Groundlings performer Patrick Bristow. The show is advertised for "adults only" and as "uncensored." However one rare and "exclusive" set of shows "for children" were held in Edinburgh in 2006.

The sketches in the live show are not pre-planned, and the shows contain all true improv. The puppeteers in the Henson improv troupe trained with Patrick Bristow for nine months to perfect their improv skills prior to their first show. Just like the Groundlings, the Henson improv sketches are performed based on audience suggestions.

History[edit]

Brian Henson, producer of the show, recalled the genesis of the show in a 2006 interview stating, "we began doing puppet improv workshops to hone our comedy skills and realized that we were having so much fun that audiences might enjoy watching too."[citation needed] In the fall of 2005 a show was performed in the sound stage of the Jim Henson Studios for friends and invited industry guests. The two shows were so successful that the group was invited to the 2006 U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, where it made its public debut. Jim Henson's Puppet Improv was performed at two shows featuring the talent of Brian Henson, Bill Barretta, Julianne Buescher, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, Drew Massey, Paul Rugg, Allan Trautman and Victor Yerrid. Willie Etra was the musical director and operated the keyboards.

In June 2006, Jim Henson’s Puppet Improv began performing under a new name, Puppet Up! - Uncensored The troupe performed four shows over three nights at the world famous Improv in Hollywood.

In August 2006 Puppet Up! - Uncensored traveled to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for 30 shows. Two versions of the show were performed: the regular "adult only" version and, for the first time, a family-friendly "for kids" show.

Puppet Up! - Uncensored performed two shows at Caesars Palace in November 2006. These shows were filmed as part of HBO and AEG Live's The Comedy Festival. TBS produced an hour-long television special from these shows that aired five days later on TBS. TBS also ordered 30 web-exclusive episodes of "Puppet Up! - Uncensored" for their "Laugh Lab" video service on TBS.com. The web series debuted on TBS.com on March 7, 2007.

In 2010, the show was brought to New York under the title Stuffed and Unstrung. It is scheduled to run till the end of May.

Stuffed and Unstrung[edit]

Stuffed and Unstrung was an evolved counterpart of Puppet Up! which featuring all new technical effects and original music and staging. "Stuffed and Unstrung" pays tribute to Jim Henson with re-creations of two of his most famous routines.

  • "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face" features a female puppet (which resembles the earlier version of Kermit the Frog) singing the classic song to another puppet (who resembles a rebuilt Yorick) who scarily changes features
  • "Java" depicts a violent brawl between two creatures trying to dance to the rollicking Al Hirt instrumental track.

Bobby Vegan and Sampson Knight from the pilot to Henson Alternative's Tinseltown appear as the fictional executive producers of "Stuffed and Unstrung." Bobby and Sampson appear in a pre-taped video introduction and segments for the show as well as being featured in the show's promotional material. One of the promotional commercials has Bobby and Sampson pitching "Stuffed and Unstrung" to a theater manager and they mention that the puppets in that show are not associated with The Muppets. Bobby and Sampson even considered the puppets in "Stuffed and Unstrung" as "Puppet Americans" when the theater manager asked what he should call them if they are puppets from The Jim Henson Company.

Miskreant Puppets[edit]

Early on, the improv show featured many puppets recycled from past projects from The Jim Henson Company. As the show grew, new and original puppets were created that joined the show. In 2006, new "Puppet Up! - Uncensored" puppets were designed by Julianne Buescher and Drew Massey. The puppets were built by Julianne Buescher, Drew Massey, Patrick Johnson, and Sean Johnson with help and guidance from veteran Muppet designer/builder Jane Gootnik. These puppets have been labeled as the Miskreant Puppets.

Featured Puppets[edit]

The following puppets are shown in "Puppet Up" with most of them being recycled from other productions:

  • Bongo the Monkey from Late Night Buffet with Augie and Del
  • Captain from CityKids - His puppet was used for an unnamed creature.
  • Cashmere Ramada from Late Night Liars - This puppet was occasionally reprised by Colleen Smith in specific "Puppet Up!" performances.
  • Frankie Frank and the Footers from CityKids
  • Joey the Monkey from Late Night Buffet with Augie and Del
  • Koozbanians from CityKids - Their puppets were often used for the Horny Aliens.
  • Libido from CityKids - His puppet was used for an unnamed creature.
  • Lieutenant from CityKids - His puppet was used for an unnamed creature.
  • Orangutan - This puppet was previously used for Jackie the Orangutan and Lawrence the Orangutan from Jim Henson's Animal Show. The puppet was recycled as Professor Ape and was performed by Allan Trautman who often portrayed Professor Ape as a father figure telling bedtime stories to his sons or as an intellectual philosopher discussing deep and meaningful issues with other puppets. This puppet was redressed with glasses by Julianne Buescher.
  • A Pug from Dog City - This puppet was previously used as Pavlov the Pug from Jim Henson's Animal Show and was often used as Piddles the Pug who was often performed by Julianne Buescher. Jane Gootnik mended and redressed the puppet in a diaper and a dog tag made by Julianne for "Puppet Up" after finding its puppet in storage. Piddles was depicted as the dog of Mr. Guy who would often mistaken Piddles' gender.
  • Spank the Monkey from Late Night Buffet with Augie and Del
  • Waffle the Cow-Monkey from Animal Jam - His puppet was often used as an unnamed monkey character minus the cowboy outfit.

Exclusive Puppets[edit]

The following were original puppets for "Puppet Up":

  • Boy #1 - This puppet was later used in Sisimpur.
  • Boy #2 - This puppet was used in improv games with the puppet being operated by an audience member. This puppet was later used as Mortimer in a series of comical TwitPics sent from the Jim Henson Company's Twitter account in honor of April Fools' Day.
  • Cavemen - Two prehistoric men and one prehistoric woman who were created for "Puppet Up!"
  • Frenchy - He was often performed by Paul Rugg in a French accent and considers him his personal favorite. Paul Rugg would often use Frenchy to act out a film director or a game show host.
  • Girl - This puppet was used in improv games with the puppet being operated by an audience member.
  • Mr. Guy - He was designed by Drew Massey and performed by Brian Henson who would often use him in the openings of "Puppet Up" with his dog Piddles to tell the audience on how the show works. Mr. Guy's puppet was often used as a newscaster performed by Drew Massey and under names like Dick Hardschmedley or Hank Schmuckley.
  • Old Man #1 - An original puppet designed by Drew Massey. This old man was called Harvey in the television special. This puppet was later used for Steve in the podcasts for The Jim Henson Company's lot and later used for Marvin E. Quasniki.
  • Old Man #2 - An original puppet designed by Drew Massey.
  • Punu the Tiki God - He is one of the largest puppets in the entire cast.

Puppet Up! Improv Troupe[edit]

Alongside Patrick Bristow as the host, among the puppeteers of Puppet Up! are:

Stuffed and Unstrung Improv Troupe[edit]

Besides Patrick Bristow and some of the puppeteers listed above, the following had performed in "Stuffed and Unstrung":

Television series[edit]

The show was adapted for television by TBS Superstation on November 13, 2007 and February 13, 2008. It was the first project under the Henson Alternative banner. Brian Henson and Lisa Henson served as the executive producers of this special. Despite its name, the show is censored because the seven dirty words are said on the show.

Skits[edit]

  1. Opening Song - The entire puppeteers come out to operate the puppets for the "Puppet Up!" them song which is sung by Mr. Guy (performed by Brian Henson), Piddles the Pug (performed by Julianne Buescher), a salmon (performed by Tyler Bunch), a weasel (performed by Ted Michaels), a squirrel (performed by Drew Massey), a koala (performed by Paul Rugg), an opossum (performed by Allan Trautman), and a warthog (performed by Victor Yerrid).
  2. Introduction - After the puppet cast is uncovered, Mr. Guy introduces Patrick Bristow who tells the audience about how "Puppet Up!" works.
  3. Foreign Lecture - In a lecture about "Where Do Babies Come From," an armadillo (performed by Victor Yerrid) brings in a weasel expert named Lucille Carez Carisca (performed by Julianne Buescher) to talk about where babies come from. The weasel expert speaks in Nicaraguan so the armadillo translates for her.
  4. Eye Witnesses - An old man named Harvey (performed by Paul Rugg) and his old man friend (performed by Brian Henson) talk about how they were out on a walk early in the morning and used the public bathroom where they hear George Michael in the handicap stall.
  5. Film Pitch - Two pitchmen named Berg the Armadillo (performed by Ted Michaels) and Henry the Beaver (performed by Drew Massey) are sent to pitch a new film titled "Poop v. Attack of the Killer Tourists" to a crab (performed by Allan Trautman) that works as a big Hollywood Executive.
  6. The Hot Dogs - A group of hot dogs (performed by Julianne Buescher, Tyler Bunch, Brian Henson, Ted Michaels, Drew Massey, Paul Rugg, Allan Trautman, and Victor Yerrid) play a game of quarters. Yet trouble arises when one of the Hot Dogs (the one performed by Brian Henson) has his right arm falling off.
  7. Bedtime Story - An orangutan father (performed by Allan Trautman) tells his sons Dillon the boy (performed by Victor Yerrid) and Harry the Koala (performed by Paul Rugg) the their favorite story called "The Man Who Shot the Dog."
  8. Repeats - In a scene taking place in a dump in Jacksonville, Florida, Jeffrey the Weasel (performed by Ted Michaels) is leaving his mouse girlfriend (performed by Julianne Buescher) for Billy the Goat (performed by Brian Henson). The scene is interrupted three times by Frenchy (performed by Paul Rugg) acting as the director of the movie where he has the actors do the scene again ranging from them adding "Blah Blah" at the end of their sentences to adding more rage to the scene.
  9. The Intellectual Salon - Piddles the Pug (performed by Julianne Buescher), Professor Ape (performed by Allan Trautman), a squirrel (performed by Ted Michaels), and a warthog (performed by Brian Henson) are in an intellectual salon talking about Forrest Gump in terms of existentialism.
  10. New Choice Game - An aardvark (performed by Brian Henson) and a creature (performed by Paul Rugg) work at Siegfried & Roy's Secret Garden where they even yell at Roy. When Patrick Bristow says "new choice," the performer has to change the last line that they have said.
  11. Game Show - Frenchy (performed by Paul Rugg) hosts the game show called "Try to Catch That Train" with his contestants being Darwin the Turtle (performed by Tyler Bunch), Lennard the Aardvark (performed by Victor Yerrid), and a crab named Brain Ernest (performed by Allan Trautman).
  12. News Cast - Dick Hardschmedley (performed by Drew Massey) talks to his field reporter Richard the Caveman (performed by Paul Rugg) about a breaking story about it raining cats. Richard interviews a "Furry Weird Guy from Earth" (performed by Ted Michaels) and an alien named Martin (performed by Brian Henson) who mentioned that it was all part of an alien experiment.
  13. Opera - In a big improvised musical number, a nerd boy named Georgie (performed by Victor Yerrid) and a girl named Sylvia (performed by Julianne Buescher) sing about their support for fake boobs while a monkey (performed by Tyler Bunch) and Punu the Tiki God (performed by Drew Massey) sing about their dislike for fake boobs.
  14. Closing - The entire puppeteers come out to operate the puppets for the closing song which is sung by Piddles the Pug (performed by Julianne Buescher), a monkey (performed by Tyler Bunch), a goat (performed by Brian Henson), a weasel (performed by Ted Michaels), Punu the Tiki God (performed by Drew Massey), a koala (performed by Paul Rugg), an opossum (performed by Allan Trautman), and a nerd boy (performed by Victor Yerrid).

Web Series[edit]

TBS later adapted "Puppet Up" as a web series with different sketches performed on shows during different locations. Episodes 1 -15 were taped before a live audience at The Improv in Hollywood on June 24, 2006. Episodes 16 - 26 were taped before a live audience at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2006. Episode 27 was taped before a live audience at The Grove in Anaheim on March 4, 2007.

Webisodes[edit]

  1. Pretty Girl and the Aliens (March 7, 2007) - The Horny Aliens (performed by Brian Henson, Drew Massey, and Victor Yerrid) meet the Pretty Girl (performed by Julianne Buescher) in a post-apocalyptic world looking for omelets.
  2. Translation (March 7, 2007) - Much to the frustration of a Whatnot Police Officer (performed by Brian Henson), a weasel (performed by Julianne Buescher) serves as the translator for the police interrogation of a French-speaking koala (performed by Drew Massey) that was arrested for robbing the sperm bank.
  3. 50's Manners Movie (March 15, 2007) - In a 1950's movie about manners (which is narrated by Drew Massey), a nerd boy (performed by Sean Johnson) tries to help his friend Sally (performed by Julianne Buescher). But when an orangutan (performed by Allan Trautman) tells them that loud laughing is a sign of a communist, the boy and the orangutan beat up Sally.
  4. Customer Service Help Line (March 15, 2007) - A rabbit (performed by Paul Rugg), a weasel (performed by Sean Johnson), and a water buffalo (performed by Tyler Bunch) answer customer service questions for Halibertun.
  5. Death Monopoly Game (March 21, 2007) - Herman Monster (performed by Drew Massey), a turtle (performed by Brian Henson), and a red crab (performed by Patrick Johnson) play a morbid game of "Death Monopoly."
  6. What Are the Hot Dogs Up To? (March 21, 2007) - A group of hot dogs (performed by Julianne Buescher, Tyler Bunch, Brian Henson, Patrick Johnson, Drew Massey, Paul Rugg, Allan Trautman, and Victor Yerrid) go rollerskating.
  7. The Intellectual Salon (March 28, 2007) - An orangutan (performed by Allan Trautman), an old man (performed by Brian Henson), and a nerd boy (performed by Patrick Johnson) discuss Harry Potter in terms of cosmetology and beauty.
  8. Film Scene (March 28, 2007) - A director (performed by Paul Rugg) tells an aardvark (performed by Victor Yerrid), a Whatnot woman (performed by Julianne Buescher), and a goat (performed by Brian Henson) to perform a scene from a botox movie faster.
  9. Hate Thy Neighbor (April 5, 2007) - An old man (performed by Victor Yerrid) and an alien (performed by Patrick Johnson) are neighbors who argue about their lawn sprinklers.
  10. Performance Review (April 11, 2007) - An old man (performed by Paul Rugg) is called in for a performance review at the Sausage Cutting Factory by his supervisor Duck Boy (performed by Victor Yerrid).
  11. Bang George Clooney (April 11, 2007) - A Whatnot lesbian (performed by Julianne Buescher) shares her dream of banging George Clooney with her Whatnot partner (performed by Drew Massey).
  12. Homeless Superhero (April 11, 2007) - A rabbit helps a creature superhero find a home.
  13. She's Gotta Have Nose Hairs Pt. 1 (April 18, 2007) - Beatrice Mouse (performed by Julianne Buescher) confesses to her beaver boyfriend (performed by Drew Massey).
  14. She's Gotta Have Nose Hairs Pt. 2 (April 18, 2007) - A drunken Beatrice Mouse (performed by Julianne Buescher) runs into an aardvark (performed by Brian Henson) who has nose hairs to spare. Meanwhile, the heartbroken beaver (performed by Drew Massey) talks to his friends (performed by Paul Rugg and Allan Trautman).
  15. She's Gotta Have Nose Hairs Pt. 3 (April 25, 2007) - Beatrice Mouse (performed by Julianne Buescher) and her beaver boyfriend (performed by Drew Massey) are reunited. Meanwhile, the aardvark (performed by Brian Henson) finds his match in a caveman (performed by Victor Yerrid).
  16. Perverted Aliens Go Speed Dating (April 25, 2007) - The Horny Aliens have a super-fast date with the Pretty Girl.
  17. Bolivian Taxidermy (May 2, 2007) - An armadillo and a weasel talk about Bolivian taxidermy.
  18. Hemorrhoid Creame Customer Service (May 2, 2007) - An opossum, a turtle, and a water buffalo are looking for Hemorrhoid Creame.
  19. Alien Director (May 9, 2007) - A squirrel starts in a movie directed by an alien.
  20. What Are the Hot Dogs Up To? (May 9, 2007) - A group of hot dogs become addicted to magic.
  21. Duck Boy Interviews Biscuit Designer (May 16, 2007) -
  22. The Incontinence Opera (May 16, 2007) - Several animals sing in an improvised musical number.
  23. Theater Switch (May 22, 2007) -
  24. Bleep on the Tin Roof (May 22, 2007) -
  25. Show Introduction (May 22, 2007) - Mr. Guy (performed by Brian Henson) and Piddles (performed by Julianne Buescher) explain about how "Puppet Up" works.
  26. Show Us Yours (May 30, 2007) -
  27. Snot Girl (May 30, 2007) - MC Possum (performed by Victor Yerrid) raps about Snot Girl with the help of his "alien b****es" (performed by Julianne Buescher and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph).
  28. Testiclees and the Sac of Rome (June 20, 2007) - A Whatnot boy, a pretty girl, and an aardvark take part in a strange story.
  29. 4 Letter Word (June 20, 2007) - An old man (performed by Tyler Bunch) and his friend (performed by Brian Henson) go from "hemp" to "cake" while watching COPS.
  30. The Princess and the Cheese (June 27, 2007) - An orangutan (performed by Allan Trautman) tells his monkey and koala sons their favorite story "The Princess and the Cheese" where the kids keep interrupting their dad.
  31. Anyone Can Do It (June 27, 2007) - An audience member is given a chance to operate a puppet.

Popular culture[edit]

  • Some of the puppets from "Puppet Up" would often appear as different characters in Alt/Reality.
  • Some of the puppets from "Puppet Up" were featured in That Puppet Game Show (which is the Miskreant Puppets' first family-related appearance).
  • Some of the puppets from "Puppet Up" were featured as different panelists in No, You Shut Up!.

External links[edit]