Today’s Muppet Fan Testimonial comes to us from frequent contributor and good friend to the blog, Jarrod Fairclough! If you would like to submit your own Muppet Fan Testimonial, email it to Ryan Dosier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jarrod Fairclough – I’ve been a Muppet fan since the day I was born, on May 26th 1989, in good ol’ Australia. My Mum reckons I was born singing the Sesame Street theme. Somehow I think that’s an exaggeration. Humming it, maybe, but I couldn’t talk until 6 months, so you can see my conundrum believing her. Anyway, I’m waffling, talking garbage. But as we’ve seen in my many articles on this fine site, it’s what I do best.
So apparently I was a Sesame Street fan as soon as I was born. In fact, one of the first things I ever laughed at as a baby was Big Bird. Clearly I don’t remember this, and I’m going on what my parents have told me, and my baby book. In that very book, there’s a great photo of me when I was 7 months old, on my first Christmas, grabbing at a present with a big smile on my face. The present was a Sesame Street Lullaby Pictureland. It used to project Sesame based images onto my ceiling when I was in my cot, and I sincerely believe it brainwashed me into a Muppet fan.
But I digress. Let’s skip ahead to what I remember myself. My earliest Sesame Street memory was when I was 4, and I watched Episode 3141, where Oscar is turned in to Prince Charming. I haven’t seen that episode since, but I always remembered it incredibly well, to the point where when I just looked it up on Muppet Wiki and saw the images of it, I remembered exactly what Oscar’s can looked like when it was a castle. When I was 6, I had to write a list of my favourite TV shows. I wrote Sesame Street and got picked on. Big freakin’ bullies. Picked on by people who, when they found out I went to the Sesame Street set in 2008, were really impressed. But we’ll get to that INCREDIBLE day soon.
The age of 7 was a big turning point for me. I had no idea of The Muppets, besides Kermit. One day I went around to my best friend Emma’s house, and I wasn’t feeling 100%. I got worse through the day, and so her mother decided to put on a movie that we could watch while I had a rest. That movie literally changed my life. That movie was The Muppet Movie. Now, I am totally biased when it comes to that film. In my opinion, that film stands as the best movie ever created in the history of film. It makes me laugh, it makes me cry, and it makes me sing “Rainbow Connection” at the top of my voice every time I hear it. It’s just a brilliant piece of cinema, and I remember saying something like that after my first viewing of it. Five years later, I ended up taking that film from them, but I returned it when I bought it on DVD.
Anyway, my mother heard from my friend’s mother that I had loved the film, and so my Mum went out and bought me a copy of The Muppet Christmas Carol, a film that personally I’m not too keen on nowadays, but I was back then. Well, then the Muppets essentially took over my life. A few months after my initial viewing of The Muppet Movie (which I had watched another 3-4 times in a month) I had the day off school for some reason, I could have been sick… Wow, I was sick a lot as a child. So my Mum took me out to do some shopping for someone’s birthday, and then surprised me by walking in to a cinema and purchasing tickets for a film, without telling me what it was. That day I watched Muppet Treasure Island. It was incredible, and even now my Mum and I will sit down and watch it. After that first viewing, we went to a shop and I walked out with a Captain Smollett Kermit and a picture book of the film. Kermit sat on my bed until about 4 years ago when I put the vast majority of my childhood toys in to storage.
So I was a Muppet fan, and a Sesame Street fan. I mentioned earlier that I was sick a lot as a child. Let me explain. My ears are bad. I have partial hearing loss in my right ear; it’s not noticeable to me unless my other ear is blocked. But it’s still not good. And I used to have to wear ear plugs when I went swimming or in the shower. Even now, I rarely put my head underwater when I’m in a pool (don’t stress, I do in the shower, my hair is silky smooth). So I used to have to go in to hospital once every few months for an operation on them. My Nan used to buy me something every time I went in, and it became tradition to buy me a Sesame Street figurine. And once she bought me a huge Ernie. Now, any of my friends will tell you I love Ernie. I love him more than a fat kid loves carrots. Now think about that. If you’re fat from eating carrots, you must really love carrots.
I also broke my arm twice and got stitches. The first time I broke my arm, as I wrote in one of my “?” articles recently, Fraggle Rock was on in the waiting room in the hospital, and it was the only thing that made me smile. Then when I got stitches, my Mum put on a Sesame Street CD (“Silly Songs”) on in the car on the way to the hospital. Then the next time I broke my arm, I had to go in for surgery because it was so bad. I was in hospital for a week, and they scheduled my surgery for a Thursday at 3pm. This was when Sesame Street was on. I blatantly refused to go, but they just needled me and I went to sleep. Those monsters.
So in my teenage years (I’m now 21) Sesame Street and The Muppets were always there for me. I love Muppets From Space, and I have no idea why that film gets such a bad rap from people. I managed to track down and buy every Muppet movie, the only one missing is Letters To Santa, which I’ll buy when I head to the U.S in a few weeks (at time of writing). P.S. – Kermit’s Swamp Years is just awful. There, I said it. I’m glad I said it.
For my 18th birthday, some of my friends bought me a giant talking Elmo. He’s huge–and he now sits in the spare room, because he’s just too big for my room. My friend bought me a Sesame Street chess set, which I love. And another friend bought me a Muppet Treasure Island Film Cell Limited Edition thingy, which I’ve yet to get framed!
Then, in 2008, after I’d finished high school, I discovered something that would drain my bank account. I discovered Muppet t-shirts. Sesame Street, Muppets, it’s all the same to me. My first one had Super Grover on it, which I’ve since had to replace because it was too small. I need a new Ernie and Bert one too, because that is also getting too small. I have no world of a lie, around about 30 now. At 20 bucks each, in 3 years I’ve spent $600 on Muppet-based t-shirts. Okay, so it didn’t drain my bank account, but you get what I meant. I exaggerate. Like my mother. Darn us Faircloughs! I also bought myself a Muppet Whatnot named Boon in New York City. He is pure awesome.
As some people may know, on December 18th 2008, while holidaying in New York City, I was given the chance to have a VIP tour to the Sesame Street set. It’s a long story, but essentially Matt Vogel is a friend of a friend of a friend. So a mate organized it behind my back, and when he told me the night before that we were going, I genuinely didn’t know how to react. I didn’t say a word. I mean, after years of watching it, I was going to Sesame Street! I won’t go through all the details, it’s enough to fill up an entire article and this thing is already long enough. But I’ll tell you the basics. The episode they filmed while I was there was Episode 4192, Season 40, entitled “Y a Quest? Y Not!” recently released in America on DVD, released here in Australia on DVD about 8 months ago. They filmed a few scenes, and I’m literally mere feet away during the Gina’s Vet scene.
I met Vogel and Paul McGinnis, and Vogel introduced us to Kevin Clash, who could not have been nicer. We ended up meeting Elmo, and he was hilarious, offering to be our drinking buddy for the weekend. Then we had a photo with Oscar. Vogel asked me if I had any preferences as to who I wanted to be photographed with, and I requested Ernie and Bert. When Vogel came back, he told me that the Ernie puppet was getting some repairs, so it wasn’t there. As I said, I love Ernie, but I was on such a high that even that didn’t disappoint me. Instead, Vogel had the Count, and Eric Jacobson came over with Bert. We quickly spoke to Eric, but then Bert came alive and had us in stitches for about 10 minutes. We took a few photos, and then Vogel led us to a room we’d already been to, which was empty besides a big blue box. He opened it up, and there, making me feel 4 again, was Big Bird. Vogel told us the entire story of how Big Bird is made, how he got the job of being the understudy, and was complaining about just how long he has to hold the Bird up during the Thanksgiving Day Parade.
I’ll cut that story short now, because as I said, it could go on for hours. It was honestly the best day ever, and to make it even better, that night I met Johnny Tartaglia, who was insanely kind to me, and has been ever since. Vogel and Paul have also been too good to me, and with any luck I’ll get to see them when I’m in the States soon.
And so now I’m here. My Muppet fandom really came in to its own I believe through this very website. I’m not saying this to be all sweet and kind, or to be a butt kisser to Ryan, but I truly do love this site. While the incredible ToughPigs has news and all that stuff, this website is really for the fans. If you’ve got any article ideas, I really really urge you to contact Ryan with them. That’s how I got a few articles written last year (The one about The Count being better than Twilight, and the awful Bunsen and Beaker rip off, which, I really dread to tell you all, is STILL being used) and how I got “?”. Ryan is one of the best Muppet fans around, and I’m very glad the future of Muppet fandom is in his hands, and I hope I can be there alongside him, Lisa the Intern, The British Correspondent, and everyone else that’s submitted articles, making you laugh for a long time to come. “Jarrod Fairclough Presents: ?” is only just beginning, my friends, and you haven’t seen the last of me yet.
Now, jump on Word and write up your own Muppet Fan Testimonial, and I’ll be waiting to read them!
Now I’m off to take a correspondence course to get my license (bit of Muppet quoting for you, there).
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier