Weekly Muppeteer Wednesdays: Eric Jacobson

Eric

Written by Ed Castle.Eric Grover Bert

ERIC JACOBSON

Born…
July 25, 1970

Notable Muppets…
Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Grover, Bert, Animal, Sam Eagle, Marvin Suggs, Guy Smiley, Mr. Tiger, Harry the Duck, Frankfurter

WHO IS ERIC JACOBSON?
Eric Grover Shorty AwardsEric Jacobson, born in July of 1970, is one of the members of the newer group of core Muppet performers. Eric started working with the Muppets in 1994 as a background puppeteer on Sesame Street, and rose through the ranks of Sesame puppeteers. In order to keep the characters of Frank Oz—who was focusing more on directing and other pursuits—alive and visible, Jacobson was selected due to his strong puppetry talent and extremely similar vocal range. Jacobson has worked on projects starring the classic Muppet Show and Sesame Street characters, and on Bear in the Big Blue House.

Eric and Grover 2In 1997, Jacobson started performing Bert on a semi-regular basis, and the next year he added Grover to his list as well; he began to perform both characters full-time on Play with Me Sesame from 2002 until the present. Today, Jacobson is the principal performer of these two Sesame stars, although Frank Oz occasionally comes in to record new material with them.

Jacobson has also taken on Guy Smiley in recent years, performing the character in videos for Sesame Street Presents: The Body, Ready to Learn commercials on PBS, Sesame Street Episode 4182 from Season 39, and new segments for the video game Kinect Sesame Street TV. He has also performed minor characters on Sesame Street, such as Mr. Tiger, one of the Three Little Pigs, and Hammy the Dwarf.

Eric Piggy 2002Eric is also the performer of Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Animal, Sam Eagle, and Marvin Suggs. Again, Eric took over all of these characters from Frank Oz, who retired as a principal performer in 2000. At 2001’s MuppetFest fan convention Jacobson made his Muppet debut secretly performing Miss Piggy, welcoming the fans “live via satellite.” He made his first major Muppet production debut performing Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and Animal for 2002’s It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. He took over the role of Sam the Eagle starting in 2005 with The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. His first performance as Marvin Suggs was during the reprisal of “Life’s A Happy Song” as part of the finale in The Muppets in 2011.

Eric KidsIn 2011, Dave Goelz recollected the following anecdote regarding his fellow Muppeteer. “When Steve was able to do Kermit, I thought, ‘Wow, we got off lucky there, but if something happens to Frank or he leaves, we’ll just be dead.’ Lo and behold, Eric Jacobson, who like Steve had been around for a long time in the Sesame Street performing group, was able to do very credible versions of Frank’s characters. He’s incredible with Miss Piggy. The first time I was at a read-through with Eric, I hadn’t noticed his arrival, and we started reading the script. I heard Frank and looked around the room. And Frank wasn’t there. So it was really an interesting thing.”

d1bc5-fozzieanderic-bmpBesides taking over Frank Oz’s characters, Jacobson has performed Harry the Duck and other characters on Bear in the Big Blue House. Outside of the Muppets and The Jim Henson Company, Eric has worked on The Puzzle Place, Jack’s Big Music Show, Once Upon a Tree, and Disney’s The Book of Pooh; as well as on stage as part of live puppet theater performances in New York City with The Puppet Company, The Cosmic Bicycle Theater, and The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater in Central Park. In 2013, Jacobson served as puppeteer for Shaggy Rogers (with Matthew Lillard serving as Shaggy’s voice) for the DVD movie, Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map.

Eric Jacobson has been honored for his work on several occasions and holds the distinction of being the first puppeteer to work on multiple film and television productions cited for excellence by UNIMA in the same year.

Eric Leslie ComicCon

 

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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