A website for Muppet fans who grew up. Our mission is to provide a website and forum for biting satire, poignant observations, and general wittiness related to the Muppets, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, and all things connected to Jim Henson’s life and legacy.
Normally, a film debut comes tandem with a big red carpet premiere. Today, with the official release of Muppet Guys Talking, the stars are spread across the country, so they chose to have the world premiere in the same place where you can find the movie: on the internet.
For over an hour, four well-dressed Muppet performers hosted a live hangout on Facebook Live where they answered questions, joked around, and welcomed celebrity guests like Mythbusters‘ Adam Savage, Star Wars director Rian Johnson, Alan Tudyk, David Arquette, and more.
Join the Guys of "Muppet Guys Talking" Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, Fran Brill, Frank Oz. We're taking selected questions from you, talking about the film, and hosting special guests.When you ask a question, be sure to tell us where you're from and who your question is for!
My house, sometime in the 1990’s: A young Matthew watches The Great Muppet Caper on VHS for the umpteenth time. At the moment when Animal grunts and strains to pull off the roof panel at the Mallory Gallery, he asks a question that would lead to a huge discovery.
“Why does Animal sound like Grover?”
It’s because of that question that I’ve uncovered a crucial fact that needs to be shared. It may change people’s perception forever, but I’m compelled to reveal the truth.
The Muppets are not actually frogs, bears, pigs, birds, monsters, and the like. The Muppets are, in fact… puppets.
(I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself. Come back when you’re ready.)
Yes, it’s true. The Muppets are puppets. Puppets that are operated by… wait for it… people. Real life human beings. Just like you and me. I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s true.
You see, Jim Henson knew all this. He knew that even with all the technical wizardry that he and his team developed, the real key asset in bringing these puppets to life was the puppeteers, and he was never afraid to show them off. When 60 Minutes did a piece on how The Muppet Show was made, alongside Jim and Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Richard Hunt, and Jerry Nelson were interviewed. When The Jim Henson Hour revealed the “Secrets of the Muppets,” it ended with Henson showing off the puppeteers on the show at work, showing just how much effort and coordination is required to make fleece and foam into unforgettable characters.
And then for a while, after Jim’s death, it felt like a conscious decision was made by the powers in charge to hide the performers behind the scenes, like they were a dirty little secret that only the diehard fans really cared about. But in recent years, it seems that the curtain has been lifted. Three years ago, at the D23 Expo, I was pleasantly surprised to see the likes of Bill Barretta, Eric Jacobson, and David Rudman receive equal billing with Rowlf, Miss Piggy, and Scooter. At Vulture Fest’s “Morning With the Muppets,” Steve Whitmire and Eric were interviewed longer that Kermit and Fozzie (and not just because those puppets are hard to keep up for long periods of time). And live performances that may have been eschewed in the past because you would have to see the performers are now coming to fruition.
Now some may say that it spoils the magic. Kermit is a frog, not a composition of fabric and a ping pong ball cut in half! But to them, I say, does it really take away what you get out of these performances? Even when I’m seeing these characters performed with the puppeteers in full view, my eyes are still drawn to the puppets. These characters are so expressive and so well-performed that having a puppeteer visible doesn’t change anything. That’s a testament to the incredible work that these performers put into their characters. Kermit is a frog, and it’s because of the performers that we feel that way.
But perhaps the most wonderful part of it all is that these puppeteers are finally getting to tell their stories, and are being appreciated for who they are and the work they do. Caroll Spinney was celebrated in a feature documentary, I Am Big Bird. Muppet fans around the world jump on Facebook to watch Below the Frame. And this week, another film joins the pantheon in Muppet Guys Talking. They share performing tricks, behind the scenes in-jokes, and most importantly, how they were inspired to become puppeteers and how aspiring performers can hone their craft so that, maybe one day, they can join them on Sesame Street, or with the Muppet Show Muppets, or perhaps in a completely new project from the next aspiring Jim Henson.
So I’m going to make a bold prediction, one that I don’t make lightly. Now that the performers are more visible and accessible than they’ve been in years, I think you’re going to see something.
I think you’re going to see more people getting interested in puppetry.
Not all of them will wind up on Sesame Street or the like, but I think more people will think of puppetry as an art form that anyone can try. Maybe it starts with a kid (or even an adult) playing with sock puppets. Someday, that kid buys a toy puppet with a little more expression. And if they’re still having fun, they take a class, or maybe even build their own puppet. And now that they see more examples that puppetry can be a viable career, maybe they stick with it a little longer.
They meet up with other puppeteers. Maybe even join the Puppeteers of America (or a similar organization they have in their country). And then, when these big production companies put out a call for performers for workshops, they send their video in. And maybe, with a lot of time and effort, they can join the ranks of the Muppet performers. And they can share their stories, so that some other kid can be inspired and make up characters with sock puppets.
After years below the frame, the Muppet performers are standing up, and the world is seeing that the people behind the Muppets are just as fascinating as the Muppets themselves.
Click here to play with sock puppets on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Matthew Soberman
It’s Goelz, actually. But it’s nice to see him on TV!
With the release of Muppet Guys Talking finally upon us, the Muppet Guys are making sure the whole world knows about the documentary. The promotional campaign includes an appearance on today’s Good Morning America. Check it out to see Frank Oz, Bill Barretta, Dave Goelz and Fran Brill chat about the documentary, their colleagues, and doin’ Muppet stuff:
Click here to give up some secrets on the Tough Pigs forum!
Muppet Guys Talking, Frank Oz’s documentary featuring Muppet performers Jerry Nelson, Fran Brill, Bill Barretta, and Dave Goelz, is now available to watch. Finally!
To stream or download the film, it’ll only cost you $9.97, and you can get it on the film’s website, MuppetGuysTalking.com.
And there’s also a second option: the “Below Stage Pass”, which costs a whopping $97!!! (A price that will presumably go up to $197 after March 21st.) This VIP pass will get you the film, access to live Hangouts with the cast, recordings of those Hangouts (in case you’re unable to watch live), the ability to submit questions to the performers, and bonus deleted outtakes from the film. This option is also available on MuppetGuysTalking.com.
Hopefully there are some Muppet fans with deep pockets who will be able to enjoy the VIP package.
In any case, we can’t wait for everyone to see this fantastic movie. Go ahead and give it a watch (or two) and let us know what you think!
Click here to be a Muppet Fan Watching Muppet Guys Talking on the ToughPigs forum!
What if there were a sweepstakes for Muppet fans, and the grand prize was the chance to sit in a room and listen to five of the most prominent Muppet performers talk about their work for an hour? If you won, you’d just get to hang out and observe as your personal heroes chatted, reminisced, waxed philosophical and teased each other.
Well, congratulations. All of us have won that sweepstakes, and the prize is a new documentary called Muppet Guys Talking.
The documentary, directed by Frank Oz and produced by Frank with Victoria Labalme, is not flashy or fancy. It’s just Frank, Jerry Nelson, Dave Goelz, Fran Brill and Bill Barretta sitting on comfy-looking chairs and couches, having a pleasant conversation. If anyone approaches the film hoping to see lots of clips from classic Muppet productions, they’ll be disappointed — occasionally we’ll see a few seconds of footage, but not much of it. There are also a few moments when the film presents us with a visual aid to help us picture what they’re describing, or a cut to an individual interview with one of the five. But for the most part, Muppet Guys Talking is just… Muppet guys talking.
Going in, I wondered whether the film would contain many morsels of Stuff We Didn’t Know Before. I knew I would enjoy seeing five Muppet performers discussing their craft, but I was prepared for the possibility that the topics would be more of a Muppets 101 – which performer plays which characters, how the puppets work, and so on – than a collection of juicy inside tidbits. It seemed one of Frank’s goals for the film was simply to introduce the performers to the general audience who don’t know them as well as their characters.
I needn’t have worried. There’s enough basic information and exposition that any pop culture fans with an interest in Muppets should appreciate the film, but there’s also lots of great stuff that thrilled me as a Muppet nerd. Frank explains the inspiration for Grover, Dave recounts his earliest encounters with his future colleagues, Fran talks about being a woman surrounded by male puppeteers, Jerry recalls how he first became aware of the Muppets. It’s all fascinating, whether you’re a huge fan or a regular-sized one.
Frank Oz has said they shot about nine hours of footage, so it’s darn near miraculous that they were able to cut it down to just 65 minutes. Obviously, 65 minutes won’t be long enough for most Muppet fans, but the 65 minutes we get moves along at just the right pace. At one point, we even get to see them take their coffee break, which is fun to observe and also allows to get an even more candid, informal look at the Muppet Guys for just a minute before diving back into the really insightful stuff.
The conversation touches on a variety of topics, but it always tends to come back around to one of four distinct but related themes. The first is where characters come from. The performers talk about the origins of their best-known characters, how they came to be assigned to those characters, and how they developed the characters using pieces of their own personalities. Frank Oz obviously loves this aspect of Muppet performing, and the film does a great job at highlighting a variety of Muppets.
The second theme is the general hazards of puppetry. The Muppet Guys go through a lot to make their characters seem real, and they all have a lot of stories about the most dangerous, exhausting, or just plain strange moments in their careers of wiggling dolls. Some of these stories will be familiar to longtime fans, but it’s great to see the performers reacting to their colleagues’ memories.
The third theme is Jim Henson. Who he was, what it was like working with him, and how his personality left a lasting impression on the Muppet legacy and everyone who knew him. Apparently Jim was a pretty swell fellow, and “working” for him never felt as much like work as it did play. As fans, we’re always looking to know Jim a little bit better, and the film brings us another step closer.
The playful atmosphere encouraged by Jim ties directly into the fourth theme: Camaraderie. We like to think of the Muppet world as a non-stop, decades-long party, and the film does nothing to dispel that notion. As the performers talk and laugh – and laugh some more, it’s so clear that Bill Barretta is a big Jerry Nelson fan, and Frank Oz is a big Fran Brill fan, and so on. The Muppet Guys love working together, they love creating great work together, and they just plain love each other.
That may be the primary thing viewers will take away from Muppet Guys Talking: These wonderful, talented people who helped make the productions that have entertained us, taught us, and touched us for our entire lives? They had just as much fun making it all as we did watching it. And with Muppet Guys Talking, we get the privilege of watching them as themselves.
As we’ve heard many times, Frank Oz’s Muppet Guys Talking documentary will not be available to watch in theaters or on Netflix or DVD or Betamax. The only place you’ll be able to find it is on MuppetGuysTalking.com. So with that in mind, would the movie be getting a big red carpet premiere?
The answer is: Kinda! The red carpet will be virtual. There will be interviews, but not with the press. And you (yes, you!) will be invited.
On Friday, March 16th, the same day the movie debuts online, the cast will congregate online to answer your questions live on the Muppet Guys Talking Facebook page. Attendees will include Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, and Fran Brill, and we’ve been promised “special guests”, so start your speculations!
The live premiere will take place at the following time(s):
Los Angeles: 2:00pm
New York: 5:00pm
(In case that doesn’t make sense to you: It’s all the same time. Figure it out! I have faith in you.)
Click here to walk the red carpet to the ToughPigs forum!
Physicist. Cosmologist. Professor. Author. Survivor. Stephen Hawking wore many hats, all of which weren’t just impressive, but downright inspiring. Which is one of the many reasons we’re saddened to learn that one of the greatest minds of recent years has passed away.
Like any important human being, Stephen Hawking has had his moments interacting with the Muppets. He was mentioned in It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, as Beaker sold his periodic table signed by Professor Hawking in order to buy Bunsen a stand for his electron microscope. Sad.
A more concrete collaboration was last year when Hawking participated in a Red Nose Day video, in which celebrities auditioned to be his new voice. One of those celebrities was none other than Miss Piggy.
You can watch that video here:
Stephen Hawking's New Voice | Comic Relief Originals - YouTube
Yeah, I’m still bummed she didn’t get the gig.
Click here to help us remember Stephen Hawking on the ToughPigs forum!
Earlier this week, we posted Part 1 and Part 2 of the text of our recent interview with Mr. Frank Oz. We hope you enjoyed reading it with your eyeballs. Today, we have a little bonus for you: The audio of the interview, so you can read it with your ears!
Check it all out right here:
Frank Oz: The Tough Pigs Interview - YouTube
We’d like to thank Frank Oz once again for speaking with us, and the whole gang at Muppet Guys Talking for making such a cool movie!
Click here to pay tribute to Harvey Kneeslapper on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Ryan Roe (Ryan@ToughPigs.com) and Joe Hennes (Joe@ToughPigs.com)
Click here for Part 1 of our interview with Frank Oz, legendary Muppet performer, writer, filmmaker, and director of Muppet Guys Talking, the new documentary available March 16 only at MuppetGuysTalking.com! And now, Part 2!
TP: Among your characters’ funniest moments are some of the talk show appearances that you’ve done over the years. Do you essentially go in with the goal of causing as much chaos as possible, and have you ever noticed that the hosts of some of those shows might seem a little bit annoyed?
FO: I don’t think they’re annoyed. The answer is yes, I try to go in there and break things up, but I ad-lib. I don’t anymore, but all the dozens and dozens of talk shows I used to do, I always had an idea in mind, an attitude, and that’s all. Nothing written down, ever. I do like breaking things up, absolutely.
I remember one I enjoyed very much was Matt Lauer at The Today Show, and he introduced Piggy and she was extremely mad at him and wouldn’t talk to him. And that really was kind of a nice beginning, because you expect people to say, “Oh, hi, Matt! How are you?” And she was pissed. And then you start getting funny from there.
TP: The other ones that we love are on Martha Stewart. I think you did a few of those as Miss Piggy and Cookie Monster. That’s where you can tell that she just doesn’t know what to make of these characters.
FO: Well, she’s very smart. She’s a businesswoman. She doesn’t have a sense of humor, but she had smarts enough to know that her job is to just keep going forward, and then I get to jump in and have little darts, being sarcastic. But she’s very smart that way. She knows her job, and she knows that the worst thing to do is to try to be funny with a character. Or try to be funny at all. So she just kept on going forward like a train, and then I would be changing cars all the time.
TP: Some of your older characters, even predating your Muppet Show characters, I found interesting. Like Rufus the dog.
FO: Oh my gosh.
TP: Who seemed like he was maybe even going to be your signature character for a while there, before other characters started popping up. Do you have any memories of playing him?
FO: Oh, I sure do. And part of the reason I did Rufus was because I was scared to do voices, because I didn’t think I was very good at voices. So to me that dog was a way to express myself without having to face the fear of doing voices. But yeah, I enjoyed Rufus. He was fun to do, it was great. I remember doing him for the Valentine’s show, I remember doing him on a special in New York. I had a good time with him, he was fun.
TP: Is there any particular reason he didn’t carry over to later productions like The Muppet Show, or was there just some character turnover?
FO: I think the lack of the ability to talk. He’d have to connect with other characters, and it’s not as easy if someone doesn’t connect verbally with you.
TP: You also did the costume character the La Choy Dragon in the old commercials, is that right?
FO: Yeah, that is right.
TP: I’ve read that you refused to do another full-bodied Muppet after that, is that also correct?
FO: No, I actually did do a full-bodied Muppet with Jerry Nelson in the Christmas special [The Great Santa Claus Switch] with Art Carney, and I think it’s then that I refused. I hate doing those costume things.
TP: So even during The Muppet Show when they would have a whole bunch of Muppet monsters around, you would say, “Nope, I’m going to be on the ground, forget that?”
FO: No, it wasn’t necessary. Jim knew I wouldn’t do it. [laughs] Jim knew ahead of time I hated it, and it was just useless asking.
TP: We’ve noticed a few more characters in addition to the La Choy Dragon that you performed, but you didn’t perform the voice… like Ma Otter in Emmet Otter or Aughra in The Dark Crystal. Was that a bigger challenge for you?
FO: Those two were different reasons. Ma Otter, Marilyn Sokol did the singing voice, because I certainly can’t sing. So in order for Ma Otter’s voice to match the singing voice, it had to be Marilyn Sokol doing the rest of it. That was a necessity. It couldn’t be Marilyn’s voice singing and then I’d be doing the voice. That wouldn’t make any sense.
With Aughra, I was [also] doing the Chamberlain, and by that time I was involved in so many characters, Jim and I both felt that somebody else should do the voice because the voice I would have for Aughra would be too close to some of the other characters I did. That’s when we had the great Billie Whitelaw – she just passed, but she was a great actress and she was Aughra.
TP: Speaking of Dark Crystal, Jim obviously asked you to co-direct the movie with him. Until that time, although you had been equals in many ways, he was still always your boss. What was it like collaborating with him on an equal level on that project?
FO: I was never equal with Jim. I always knew that Jim was the boss. He was the one that made the final decisions. But he never treated me like an employee, he treated me like a friend and a partner. Working with Jim, he didn’t care about credit, he cared about the quality of the project. That’s why he asked me to work with him, because he knew that I had a bit more ability in certain areas that he didn’t. For instance, blocking and sometimes working with the actors and such, like that. He certainly was able to do it, but also by the fact of having me there, he could be involved in the much larger tasks of the story, and everything else.
It was great, but I think he fired me a couple times. At that time, I was still young enough to want to have a bit more attention, and the fact that Jim was really the main director and I was really helping him sometimes chaffed at me, but Jim in his patience and his care for me never let it affect him. It wasn’t always [difficult], it was a few times within those three years. But he was so patient with me and so supportive that that kind of went away too.
TP: Obviously it went well enough that he recommended you to direct Muppets Take Manhattan.
FO: Yeah, we just had a really special relationship, and he couldn’t do it, so I guess he felt it was time I could do it.
TP: Was it weird directing the rest of the Muppet cast that you had been working side by side with all this time, and now suddenly you had to be the boss and direct them?
FO: Yeah, it was not weird, it was bad. [laughs] Talk to Dave Goelz. What happened was, when I was up there on the first movie I ever directed by myself, I felt I had to know everything. And of course, that’s stupid. But when you’re a director and you’re in charge of all these millions of dollars, you feel you’ve got to do everything yourself and make sure everything’s right. That is ridiculously 180 degrees away from the truth, but nevertheless, I felt that.
I also knew the performers, what they could do and what they couldn’t do, and I was harder on them than I should have been, because I had all that pressure on me. I was a first-time director and part-writer on that, and also I performed about four or five of my characters, so I think unfortunately I was harder on those guys. You should talk to Dave Goelz about it. We laugh about it now, how much he hated me. [laughs]
TP: That movie kind of has a different tone than the two that came before it. It’s a little bit more down to earth, maybe grittier than the first two. Was that your approach? What was your philosophy on that?
FO: I think that’s very perceptive, because nobody’s ever seen that, but I feel I might have been too down to earth. What Jim did was extraordinary, and he was down to earth in his characters, but he was never really down to earth in the humor. The humor was a bit wilder. Mine was more grounded, you’re absolutely right. Muppets Take Manhattan was more grounded than the other stuff you’ve seen. Some people love that – I felt it was a failure on my part because it didn’t have that kind of Muppet wildness to it. Nevertheless, it seems like it did okay.
TP: Oh yeah, it’s a great movie. It holds up as one of my favorite movies of all time, I think partially because it’s so different from the other Muppet movies. I don’t think I would want that as the new direction for the Muppets, but to kind of take a break from the chaos and show, “Oh, they’re like real people!”
FO: Yeah, I think that was again the human being I was – and to a degree, still am, but as much as I can get lunatic, I also feel a story needs to be more grounded. Where Jim felt it wasn’t necessarily the ground that was important, it was the entertainment and the Muppets’ wildness. Again, that was a lesson I learned, and fortunately it turned out okay. And again, Jim gave me all his support.
TP: You’re also credited as having rewritten the script. Do you remember what the script was like before you added your own touches to it?
FO: The way it was written was more jokey and less grounded, and I felt it was too jokey and it wasn’t about their relationships. There’s now a situation where I told Jim in my opinion I thought it was too jokey, too much just for the laughs, and not enough about the relationships and the characters themselves. What I did in the rewrite is, I made it more grounded – for good or bad – and I had more focus on the relationships of the characters than just the jokes.
TP: Speaking of Muppet movies, we understand you wrote a script for The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made. Can you tell us anything about that?
FO: Right. Yeah, after Muppets Take Manhattan we realized it was too expensive to make a Mupept movie the way we’ve been doing it. It was just too expensive. So I said to Jim and Jerry [Juhl], well, let’s just tell the truth. Let’s just say, “It’s too expensive,” let’s just make the cheapest Muppet movie we can, and just admit it.
Jerry Juhl wrote The Cheapest Muppet Movie and I kind of worked with him as an editor, but he’s the writer. And Jim. That never came about, and then years later with Disney, I still loved the idea, and I wrote it with Jim Lewis helping me, but it turned out Disney just wanted the Jason Segel movie, and just forgot about and dumped mine. That’s what happened.
TP: That’s a shame. We’d still love to see it in some form.
FO: Yeah, it would have been funny. It would have been really nice.
TP: Were there other projects you worked on that didn’t come to fruition?
FO: With the Muppets? Not really. The only thing I can remember is not really the Muppets, but in the 1960s before Sesame Street, Jim wanted to create a nightclub called Cyclia, which was not unlike, in those times, Electric Circus and things like that. Those are kind of psychedelic nightclubs. He wanted to do that with about sixteen projectors against the wall and against dancers and such, and projecting things. I shot reams and reams of 16mm film for that, but then it just never got going. That’s the only one I can remember.
TP: People can go see the video – I’m assuming some of the video that you shot – [in the Jim Henson Exhibition] at the Museum of the Moving Image right now, which is pretty exciting for us to see.
FO: Yeah, that was my first venture into moviemaking, so that was a huge lesson for me.
TP: The only other project I have written down that you were involved in that didn’t end up happening was “Pig of the Nineties,” which was going to be the Miss Piggy campaign right before Jim had passed.
FO: Yeah, but that wasn’t my project, that was a marketing project. That wasn’t realty a creative performance project, that was pure marketing. I had nothing to do with that.
TP: We have a few questions for you that are really more about you than the Muppets. You just joined Twitter. How are you liking it so far?
FO: I’m having a great time. I joined Twitter to let people know about Muppet Guys Talking. I never liked social media at all, so I joined Twitter, and it turns out I’m enjoying talking to the fans so much I’m not even talking about Muppet Guys Talking.
TP: We really appreciate it, because just to have this quasi-personal connection to you has been really exciting and important to the fans.
FO: That’s nice. People mention all the time about me writing a book, and I’m just too damn lazy. To actually work, it’s like doing a book report in high school. Twitter, I can just say little things here and there that I believe, and remembrances, and that’s not like writing a book, that’s throwing stuff out, so I’m enjoying that.
TP: What kind of music do you listen to these days?
FO: You know, these days I don’t listen to music. I used to listen to a tremendous amount of jazz. When I was younger, I would actually listen to Broadway showtunes. And I’d listen to folk, in the folk era of the 60s and such. Now it’s very eclectic when I do listen. I like world music, because there’s much more vitality, I think, in world music than in the United States’ music. But I don’t really listen to music that much – somehow I took a hiatus and I’m not sure why.
TP: Do you have any favorite movies, or favorite movies from recent years?
FO: Oh my God. Favorite movies in general, that list is ever-elastic, because I’ll say, “Oh yeah, these are my ten favorite movies,” and all of a sudden somebody will say, “What about this movie?” I’ll say, “Oh yeah, of course that movie!” And then somebody will say “What about this movie?” “Of course, I forgot that movie!” And on and on like that.
I’m not original. My favorite movie still is Citizen Kane, and Orson Welles is my favorite director, so I’m not original at all in my choices.
TP: What was the last movie you saw that really moved you or made you think?
FO: There was a black-and-white movie, it was up for an Academy Award about three years ago. Embrace of the Serpent. That blew me away. And some movies – Phantom Thread, I thought that was stunning this year. Of course I loved Birdman tremendously. I could do this for the next three hours – “I remember this!”
TP: We’ll do another interview – “Frank Oz on Movies.”
TP: Are you working on another project right now after Muppet Guys Talking?
FO: Well, there’s some stuff around. It’s not the same as it used to be out in Hollywood, but there’s some stuff around. I don’t like to talk about it, because then I sound like every silly director talking about all his projects, and all of a sudden they go away and then you’re embarrassed. [laughs] So I don’t like to talk about it much, because they’re not real. It’s just talk right now.
TP: We did want to mention both of us saw [the Frank Oz-directed stage show] In & Of Itself and enjoyed it greatly. It was a great show.
FO: Oh, when did you see it? In LA or New York?
TP: In New York.
FO: How long ago did you see it?
TP: [Ryan] saw it several months ago, maybe late last year. And [Joe] probably saw it about a month later than that.
FO: Well, that’s great. I’m very proud of that and Derek [DelGaudio, the writer/star] is doing a stunning job, and it’ll be probably about a year and three months before he closes. It closes in August, so that’s a hell of a long run for an off-Broadway play.
TP: I [Joe] do want to ask, though: After I saw the show – I hope this doesn’t spoil anything, but I went looking for the brick, and it was not there.
FO: It was not there?
TP: It was not there. And I just want to let you know that I no longer believe in magic. Magic is not real.
FO: [laughs] Well, what happens is, people take the brick.
TP: I’ve seen that! It’s like a map. [Joe to Ryan:] You found the brick, right? [Ryan:] I did find the brick!
FO: Yeah, it depends on if people are going to share it with people or just take it home, I guess.
TP: I will say, the one nice thing was, just because other people were walking from the theater, there were a few of us that were kind of migrating together. We made some new friends, that were all searching for the non-existent brick together.
FO: That’s nice, yeah. That show about identity opens people up, to be a bit more open with other people.
TP: Yeah, it’s a really good experience. So just to start wrapping things up: Looking forward, you’ve talked a lot about how you feel about the Muppets and the Sesame Street characters, and the integrity of the characters and things like that. In your opinion, if the Muppets are coming back with new projects, what would you like to see those be? In an ideal world?
FO: In an ideal world, I guess I’d just like them to be truer. Whatever the projects are, as long as they’re pure in their characters and pure in their relationships. That’s all that matters to me.
TP: Sure. And I know people have probably asked you a million times if you’d ever come back, but if you did, and assuming you wouldn’t want to perform again, would you want to come back in a different aspect – maybe to write or direct?
FO: No, no, I’d be happy to perform, but nobody asks me. Sesame Street doesn’t ask me and Disney doesn’t ask me. I’d be happy to come back to perform. Not all the time, because I’m a director now, I’m busy. But I used to perform a few days a year on Sesame Street, but about five years ago they stopped asking me, so that’s why I don’t perform.
TP: Well, the 50th anniversary is coming up, so they should ask you back for something.
FO: Yeah. Well, it’s the way it is. They want me for other things, but the idea of performing with the guys, that’s not something they want. And I understand, because I’m more expensive than the people doing my characters, which I think is appropriate because I created them.
TP: Sure. Especially for something like the 50th anniversary, it seems like it’d be well worth the additional cost to get you in the door.
TP: Just to wrap things up, do you have a message that you’d like to give to our readers, to your fans out there before we say goodbye?
FO: Well, only that I’m absolutely amazed and thrilled that after all these years people still love the characters. That just makes me and all of us feel so good. So thank you for just nurturing this, because that’s what’s important to all of us, just characters and the relationships between the characters. I just basically say thank you.
TP: And thank you again for talking to us, for making this amazing movie, and just for all the great stuff over the years.
FO: Thank you so much, guys. Oh, can I do my sell piece here? Can I sell a used car?
TP: Yeah, go for it!
FO: Can I sell my Brooklyn Bridge? Because Muppet Guys Talking is not at Netflix, and not on HBO, and it is not on DVD, it is nowhere else, could you just mention that the only place you can get it is at MuppetGuysTalking.com? That’s our own site, MuppetGuysTalking.com. We wanted to have a more personal relationship with the fans as opposed to having a big company between us, so MuppetGuysTalking.com is the only place you can get it [on March 16].
TP: We have a lot of readers who are very excited about it! We’ll make sure everyone knows about the website, make sure everyone sees the movie… We can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks about it. We think everyone’s really going to love it.
FO: Thank you guys for hanging in there for so many years and supporting it. I think it’s a testament to the purity of the characters, myself, so thank you very much.
TP: Thank you, Frank.
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by Ryan Roe (Ryan@ToughPigs.com) & Joe Hennes (Joe@ToughPigs.com)