Muppetology 101: Intro to Muppet Performers, Part 3

Muppetology

Ryan Dosier – Greetings, students! Welcome back once again to Muppetology 101, the course where bein’ green is always encouraged. Today, we return to Intro to Muppet Performers with six more of the men and women who make the Muppets the best. Let’s get started, shall we?

Marty, Telly shoulders

  • MARTIN P. ROBINSON
    • Born March 9, 1954
      • First Muppet Production: Sesame Street Season 11 (1980)
      • Most Recent Muppet Production: Sesame Street Season 45 (2014-2015)
      • Characters: Telly Monster (1984-present), Mr. Snuffleupagus (1980-present), Slimey the Worm, Buster the Horse, Monty, Vincent Twice, The Cat in the Hat (The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss), the Martians, Old MacDonald, Audrey II (Little Shop of Horrors)
    • Martin P. Robinson began performing on Sesame Street in 1980 and has since become one of the primary performers on the show. Early on, Martin took on roles from other performers, including Mr. Snuffleupagus and Slimey the Worm from Jerry Nelson and Michael Earl, and Telly Monster from Brian Meehl. Martin turned each of those characters into his own, giving them the voices and personalities they’ve been known and loved for for over 20 years. Martin is married to Sesame Street writer Annie Evans, whom he married on the set of the show in 2007, with Oscar the Grouch heckling the couple from his trashcan as they wed on the stoop of 123 Sesame Street. Outside of his work on Sesame Street, Martin performed in many other Muppet projects, including The Muppets Take ManhattanThe Jim Henson Hour, and The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss. Outside of the Henson realm, Martin also performed the man-eating plant Audrey II in the Broadway, off-Broadway, and film versions of Little Shop of Horrors. Martin is twice-nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award, in 1995 and 2009. Martin also works with the international co-productions of Sesame Street as the primary puppeteer recruiter and trainer in foreign countries. He continues to perform on Sesame Street consistently every season, appearing as Snuffy, Telly Monster, Slimey, and many others.

Matt V Count

  • MATT VOGEL
    • Born October 6, 1970
      • First Muppet Production: Sesame Street Season 27 (1996)
      • Most Recent Muppet Production: Muppets Most Wanted (2014) as well as Sesame Street Season 45 (2014-2015)
      • Characters: Constantine, 80s Robot, Big Bird (understudy, occasional performer; 2002-present), Count von Count (2012-present), Floyd Pepper (2008-present), Lew Zealand (2008-present), Crazy Harry (2008-present) Robin the Frog (2008-present), Uncle Deadly (2011-present), Pops (2011-present), Camilla the Chicken (2008-present), Sweetums (2009-present), Herb the Dinosaur, Hansel, Darth Chicken, Baby Big Bird
    • Matt Vogel joined the ranks of the Sesame Street puppeteer cast in 1996 and has since risen to be one of the primary performers for both Sesame Workshop and The Muppets Studio. Starting in 2002, Matt became Caroll Spinney’s understudy for Big Bird, performing him in all of the “Journey to Ernie” segments and a few other appearances. Matt also served as the primary puppeteer for Jerry Nelson’s Sesame Street characters, providing the movement so Jerry could loop the dialogue. After Jerry’s passing, Matt fully inherited Count von Count, providing both the voice and puppetry. In 2008, Matt became a featured performer for The Muppets Studio, taking on most of Jerry Nelson’s characters including Floyd Pepper, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Robin the Frog, and Camilla. Matt performed all of these characters at Jerry’s own suggestion, one of the first Muppeteer recasts approved by the original performer. In The Muppets in 2011, Matt originated a new character: 80s Robot. His star only continued to rise in Muppets Most Wanted in 2014, where Matt performed the new breakout character Constantine. Constantine brought a lot of well-deserved attention to Matt. Matt is also part of the band the Mighty Weaklings, serves as the puppet captain on Sesame Street, and also directs many episodes and segments for the show, including many Murray Monster tune-ins.

Joey Murray What

  • JOEY MAZZARINO
    • Born June 4, 1968
      • First Muppet Production: Sesame Street Season 20 (1989)
      • Most Recent Muppet Production: Sesame Street Season 45 (2014-2015)
      • Characters: Murray Monster, Stinky the Stinkweed, Horatio the Elephant, Papa Bear, Colambo, Ingrid, Joey Monkey, Two-Headed Monster (2003-present), Bug (The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland), Goggles (Kermit’s Swamp Years)
    • Joey Mazzarino is currently the head writer and one of the main performers on Sesame Street. He began on the show in Season 20, auditioning for the show with a parody of Columbo called “Colambo.” Joey was hired as a puppeteer and given the role of Colambo. From there, Joey continued to perform many characters and was hired as a writer on the show in 1992. Joey quickly rose through the ranks of puppeteers due to his sheer talent, penchant for ad-libbing, and making the cast and crew laugh on set. He currently performs Murray Monster, who appears in all of the connecting segments in every episode of Sesame Street. Joey also performs Stinky the Stinkweed, Papa Bear, Horatio Elephant, and half of the Two-Headed Monster. Joey’s many, many writing credits include Bear in the Big Blue House, Elmopalooza!, and Elmo’s Christmas Countdown. Joey also co-wrote the screenplays for The Adventures of Elmo in GrouchlandMuppets From Space, and Kermit’s Swamp Years. In 2010, Joey was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for his performance as Murray Monster. Joey continues to perform on Sesame Street as well as act as head writer for the show. He is currently working on a script for another, yet-untitled Sesame Street feature film.

brian-henson-slice

  • BRIAN HENSON
    • Born November 3, 1963
      • First Muppet Production: Appeared as a child in Sesame Street Season 1 (1969); built the first Muppet penguin puppet for The Muppet Show Episode 304 (1978); first performing credit in The Great Muppet Caper (1981)
      • Most Recent Muppet Production: Final time performing with the Muppet characters The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz (2005); continues to perform in Henson Company “Puppet Up!” shows as recently as 2014
      • Characters: Sal Minella, Dr. Phil van Neuter, Seymour, Nigel the Director, Scooter (2001-2003), Janice (2001-2003), The Newsman (2001-2003), Hoggle (Labyrinth), Dog (The StoryTeller)
      • Directing Credits: The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Muppet Treasure Island (1996), episodes of DinosaursMuppets Tonight, etc.
    • Brian Henson is the son of Jim and Jane Henson and currently the Chairman of The Jim Henson Company. As a performer, Brian began working with the Muppets as early as 1978, designing a penguin puppet for The Muppet Show. In both The Great Muppet Caper and The Muppets Take Manhattan, Brian developed rigging marionette devices that allowed the Muppets to ride bicycles. In Labyrinth, Brian performed both the face movement and the voice for Hoggle, one of the film’s primary characters. Brian also performed Dog in The StoryTeller and The StoryTeller: Greek Myths. After Jim Henson’s passing in 1990, Brian, along with his four siblings, took over the operations of The Jim Henson Company. In 1991, Brian became President, Chairman, and CEO of The Jim Henson Company, and he remains Chairman to this day. Brian directed the first two Muppet movies produced after Jim Henson’s death, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island. Brian is also an accomplished puppeteer for The Jim Henson Company, performing many characters in Muppets Tonight. It was in this show that he first began performing his original characters Sal Minella, Dr. Phil van Neuter, and Seymour. After Disney acquired the Muppets in 2004, Brian’s involvement with the characters diminished. His final performance with the Muppets was in The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz in 2005. Brian continues to forward his father’s legacy performing in projects including Puppet Up. Brian also acted as chief judge for the hit SyFy channel realty series Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, where his skills as a performer, creature designer, and Chairman of The Jim Henson Company were on prominent display.

BBCNews-LouiseGold&HerWhatnot-(2012)

  • LOUISE GOLD
    • Born August 19, 1956
      • First Muppet Production: The Muppet Show Season 2 (1977)
      • Most Recent Muppet Appearance: Muppets Most Wanted (2014) and The Furchester Hotel (2014-2015)
      • Characters: Annie Sue Pig, Zelda Rose, Lou, Funella Furchester (The Furchester Hotel) Ethel Mermaid (Sesame Street), Louisey (Sesame Street)
    • Louise Gold is one of the primary female Muppet performers and the most prolific puppeteers hired by the Muppets out of the UK. In fact, Louise was the only British puppeteer on The Muppet Show, which she joined midway through the second season in 1977. During her time on the show, Louise was given her best known character, Annie Sue Pig. Louise was also known for her incredible vocal talent and was often chosen to sing solos in musical numbers. She would often duet with Jerry Nelson in songs such as “Henrietta’s Wedding,” blending two of the best voices the Muppets ever had. Louise also performed for a long time on Sesame Street throughout the 1980s and 1990s and performed in the films The Great Muppet CaperThe Dark CrystalThe Muppet Christmas Carol, and Muppet Treasure Island. Louise is also an accomplished stage actress, appearing in many British stage performances over the years. Stage acting would become Louise’s primary area of performing after her time on The Muppet Show. In 2014, Louise Gold returned to perform with the Muppets in Muppets Most Wanted, bringing Annie Sue back with her. Currently, Louise performs Funella Furchester on the UK Sesame Street co-production The Furchester Hotel.

Karen Red new

  • KAREN PRELL
    • Unknown Birthday
      • First Muppet Production: Sesame Street Season 10 (1979)
      • Most Recent Muppet Production: The Hub “Fraggle-Rock-a-Thon” commercials (2013)
      • Characters: Red Fraggle, Yolanda the Rat, Fluffinella, The Worm (Labyrinth) (puppeteer only), Maureen the Mink, The Ghost of Christmas Past (puppetry only), Deena
    • Karen Prell was one of the primary puppeteers on Fraggle Rock, performing Red Fraggle for the entire run of the show. Karen first started working with the Muppets on Sesame Street in 1979, where she was an assistant puppeteer during season 10. After the season ended, Karen was brought onto The Muppet Show in the fifth and final season as a background puppeteer. In 1983, Karen got her big break when Fraggle Rock came along and she was chosen to perform Red Fraggle, one of the lead Fraggle characters. Along with Red, Karen performed the backside of Sprocket the dog, Mr. Shimelfinny’s cat Fluffinella, and many other minor characters on the show. Karen also appeared in a variety of other Muppet films and television specials, including The Muppets Take ManhattanLabyrinthRocky Mountain HolidayA Muppet Family ChristmasThe Muppet Christmas CarolMuppet Treasure Island, and The Muppets. In the 1990s, Karen chased a new dream of becoming an animator, working on many projects for Pixar (including Toy Story 2), as well as CGI work in various films such as Enchanted and The Stepford Wives. Her most recent animation credit was in the video game Portal 2, which one many awards. Karen continues to perform Red Fraggle at live appearances and new onscreen appearances such as the Ben Folds Five “Do It Anyway” music video and the Hub Channel’s “Fraggle Rock-a-Thon.”
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