Podcast - Adam Savage Project

Puppets – 5/5/2015

Adam, Will, and Norm discuss their favorite puppets and puppeteering. Also, the gang has a well-reasoned conversation about the relative merits of The Truman Show and EdTV.

Comments (29)

29 thoughts on “Puppets – 5/5/2015

  1. There is a fine line between puppeteers and ventriloquists– the main difference is that you don’t usually see the puppeteer, but you do see the vents. Remember Wayland Flowers and Madam? One of her tag lines was “He’s no ventriloquist, and I’m no dummy!”

    Jeff Dunham has brought the form to world popularity (who else can have a figure say “I keel you” and have a crowd burst into laughter), but there are other vents just as good but less known– Jimmy Nelson, whose figures were used in the Nestle’s commercials back in the 1960s (“N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestle’s makes the very best… Choc-late” (Chocolate spoken by the dog, Farfel); Jay Johnson, perhaps best known for being the guy with the vent figure in the TV series SOAP; Dan Horn– his figures have sticks attached to their hands to make them move, but they move independently!

    There is a convention every year just outside Cincinnati (near the CVG airport)– and lots of pros and amateurs are there to learn the art. And the kids! Kids of all ages who put “grandpa trying to talk without moving his lips” to shame! http://www.venthavenconvention.com.

    –Paul E Musselman

  2. Hey, Will, Adam and Norm.

    Just wanted to say i really enjoyed this latest podcast, as i do all of them, cant wait for the next one.

    Much Love from Scotland


  3. Love, love, LOVE puppeteering! In another life, I would no doubt have taken a serious crack at puppeteering. What Adam said regarding the characterisation of puppets and the way they just ‘come to life’ is so damn true. I bought a Muppet Whatnot from FAO Schwarz when I was in New York a few years back, and the way that children react to him when I’m puppeteering is magical. They don’t see me at all, even though I make no effort to disguise myself: they see a living, breathing (and incredibly cuddly) character.

    There’s something about a physical puppet that trumps an entirely CG character, and I’m surprised this chat didn’t go into Star Wars. If anything demonstrated the power that puppets have, it’s Yoda’s appearance in the original trilogy verses the prequels. I’m so glad that Abrams is making a dedicated push into physical puppetry for the new film.

  4. Growing up in Chicago in the 60’s, I was surrounded by TV puppets (Burt Tillstron’s Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Garfield Goose and the puppets on the Jim Stewart Show, Here’s Geraldine (my favorite)). Jim Henson’s puppets (pre-Muppets) sold us Kraml’s milk

    This was the song that ended every Jim Stewart show (Will, Adam and the other Dads may like this). I recall singing it in school. The song is from a musical, A Little Night Music



    Be kind to your parents
    You know they deserve it
    Remember they’re grown ups
    A difficult stage of life

    They’re apt to be nervous
    And overexcited
    Confused by their
    Daily storm and strife

    Just keep in mind
    Though it seems hard I know
    Most parents were children long ago

    So treat them with patience
    And sweet understanding
    In spite of the foolish things they do

    Some day you may wake up
    And find you’re a parent too

  5. You must, must, MUST see the amazing film ‘Her Master’s Voice’ about Nina Conti and her relationship with her puppets. It’s very hard to explain the premise in a way that actually sums up the experience of watching, but IMDb tries (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2081260). It was for me a strange, sad and very moving film about a ventriloquist who… well, I can’t describe it either. Go see the film if you have any interest in the human condition.

  6. Shari Lewis.

    That young man on Soap who thought his dummy was a real person even though he was the one animating it.


  7. This was my favourite podcast in a long while,such a fun topic and some delightful getting-off-track. 🙂

  8. The Muppet Show and before that Sesame Street were big parts of my childhood. My favorites were always just like the guys, Gonzo and Fozzy and on SS it was Cookie Monster.

    More recently though the coolest puppetry thing I have seen is the new innovation of motion capture CGI puppetry. I first saw it on a show on The Science Channel called Science of the Movies where they talked to the puppeteers behind the kids show Sid the Science Kid, which is made by the Jim Henson company. It was amazing how in real time with a combination of motion capture and more traditional facial controls they made this computer generated character come to life.

    It’s a great spot to watch if you have the 8 min to spare.


  9. Great episode as always, wish it had been longer cause it is a topics close to me heart,

    A few unnecessary clarifications for those who are interested

    Henson does not own the manufacturing process for the “muppet fleece”

    Muppet fleece , none by those of us in the industry as ANTRON, is a dyeable Woven fuzzy stretch fabric, it is a cousin to the ANTRON fabric used as carpeting in automobiles, The fleece is made by one manufacture in the U.S. , Hampshire Textiles, but can be purchased by the yard at numerous online outlets.

    It has gone through many many different iterations over the years , and most recently was affected by a loss of the thread supplier, resulting in a far stretchier less robust fabric with more of a matte finish . It’s also much more difficult to dye taking much more pigment than its predecessors.

    Fun fact ! In the early years , Kermit was made from what ever fleece was available. However when the muppet show became a big hit in the USA, fisher price produced possibly the best muppet toys ever , using a custom manufactured Kermit green fleece, part of that deal involved the Henson company being given many bolts of Kermit green fleece that all future Kermit’s have been made of ( at least until the sale of the characters to Disney , since the New York Muppet workshop no longer service the classic muppet show characters , I am not sure if the current company servicing the Disney owned characters was given the fleece as part of that sale)

  10. Jamie mentioned “Thunderbirds” and I am a big fan of ALL the Gerry Anderson shows. However, he made reference to the pieces of scenery and vehicles being recognized. There is a new CGI version (“Thunderbirds Are Go”) and in the Thunderbird 1 launch bay there is a CGI orange juicer, as there was in the original in 1966, in homage. 🙂

  11. Was listening on my laptop with my iPhone plugged in beside it … it caught the Hey Siri and started talking.

    Adam Savage just activated my iPhone.

  12. Anyone have any luck finding the salacious crumb behind the scenes on you tube?

    No. And I did various searches.

  13. I think the Salacious Crumb bit they are referring to, is in the documentary From Star Wars to Jedi, about 18 minutes in.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzmHgxA0jOA – It’s a great documentary anyway, so well worth a watch.

    As for other puppets, Gonzo has always been a favourite, Statler and Waldorf are really just older versions of me as is unfortunately becoming apparent. More recently Rizzo the Rat has become an excellent companion for Gonzo. But the all time favourite, the one who will always make me laugh is the Swedish Chef.

    The Muppet Christmas Carol is the best movie version of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol to have been produced too. It was a superb job all round.

    It’s nice to see the use of puppets continuing too. I’ve really enjoyed the musical Avenue Q, which really is Sesame Street meets South Park.it also has the most sexually explicit scene I’ve ever seen on stage, and it’s between two characters who don’t exist below the waist.

  14. hello tested, I love the still untitled pod-cast particularly those about film and TV. I have watched loads of films and TV programs discussed on the show and have loved most of them. just have a couple of suggestions for Adam, Norm and Will to watch. on the time travel movie discussion I’d suggest a Spanish film called Time crimes which i first saw in the middle of the night on UK TV and really enjoyed. its dark and scary and a bit of a brain bender. on the animated film discussion i would recommend a Japanese film called tekkonkinkreet which I watched as part of my personal animated film season last summer and thought was great. For any pod-cast fans in London I’d suggest checking out the British film institute at the south-bank centre which regularly shows new and classic animated films in a luxury cinema. I saw spirited away as part of the studio Ghibli season and was amazed to see it on the big screen. I also saw who framed roger rabbit with a question and answer session with animation director Richard Williams. Love the show and keep up the good work .Josh

  15. A giraffe calmly and elegantly stole an ice cream from my three year old niece. She was too astonished to make a noise. she was just looking at me and back at the animal slack-jawed while pointing in all directions, and I remember having a deep and profound feeling of indignation towards the animal that I was feeling greet awe and love towards a minute ago, as it came close to us all doe-eyed and winking with those big, thick eyelashes.

    Giraffes are all assholes and confidence tricksters

  16. Hate to say it Will but Farnsworth beat you to it! Wait, can you hold a patent 1000 years in the future?

  17. Ok, I never Said anything about It before this, you guys are making the podcast shorter and shorter, this time less than 18min. we want More not less!

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