For the fourteenth time, Beau Brown hosted The Puckin’ Fuppet Show. Say it slowly, or you will get yourself in trouble. On November 17th, at 11PM, the show opened its unique blend of artistry and comedy to a standing-room only crowd at a new venue, the Fabrefaction Theater. This new venue proved to the perfect home for this event because it was able to bring the audience up close to the puppets and while still fitting the growing audience for the Puckin’ Fuppet Show.
As a puppet slam, The Puckin’ Fuppet Show is an amazing showcase for puppeteers, who may spend days doing puppet shows for kids, to stretch their skills with adult content and pieces that push the boundaries of puppetry. It is true that the majority of acts are comedic, but that’s not a requirement. November’s show brought many of laughs, but also musical numbers, highly crafted marionette work, a puppet film, and experimental work involving a pumpkin and chain saw. Also, the puppet slam is a competition. The audience votes at the end of the show and prizes are given out.
The show opened with a quartet of tiny puppets singing the Cell Block Tango from “Chicago.” This adorable set let the audience know they were in for an entertaining night. Next came an interesting allegory on transgendered life as a snake goes to therapy because she knows she was born a sock, and not a snake, but no one will recognize that. Another act had a puppet wishing she was a human, then admitting she did not…she is a puppet and proud to be one. There was a singing submarine sandwich, and a series of hilarious PSAs reappearing throughout the show.
The standouts for this reporter include a guest puppeteer named Jones Broderick who came from Charlottesville, VA on a grant from the Puppet Slam Network, a national organization for Puppet Slams. His puppet cat lip synched to the song “Superstition” as disaster took each of the cat’s nine lives until he was a ghost in earnest. The New Puppet Order’s film, “Conrad Fails at Normal,” was a surprising if obscene bit of harmony work as a puppet on a public park bench takes up three part harmony with a stranger and the stranger’s “member.” Hilarious, though certainly not for kids.
Marionette work is considered the most difficult puppet work and the short string marionette of Tanner Slick’s “Petruska Remix” made this trying art form look like child’s play. Dancing with his puppet on stage, Slick made it seem like the strings were not there and the puppet was moving on its own volition to the music.
The winning piece of the night, Fur Elise, involved a large size puppet behind a playboard doing magic. The puppet was so large that the puppeteers, the talented Kiera Robbins and Peter Hart, each operated one arm of the puppet with their own human arm in the sleeve, and used their free arms to operate the body and the face of the puppet. It was a coordinated effort empty canisters produced flowers, and empty boxes produced bigger flowers, and finally the largest bouquet came from a large tube shoved indelicately up the puppet’s rump. Immature as it may sound, the audience howled in laughter.
A real joy of the Puckin’ Fuppet Show is Beau Brown’s work as emcee. Beau’s involvement with puppetry includes his work at The Center for Puppetry Art, Dragon*Con’s Puppetry Track, Bob and Carl the Sci-Fi Janitors, and The New Puppet Order. His knowledge and love puppetry run deep. Puppetry, he explained, is a universal expression because every human culture has puppetry. He introduces each act with warmth and encouragement, but also uses his emcee time to educate the audience on puppetry.
When the Puckin’ Fuppet Show comes in December, you can bet The Backstage Beat will be there. Hope to see you there too.
November Puckin’ Fuppet Show Set List
|Cell Block Tango||Nancy Riggs and Kiera Robbins|
|Snakes Suck, Socks Rock!||Phoebe and Kellen|
|Petruska Remix||Tanner Slick|
|One Wish||Kelly Comeaux|
|Fur Elise||Kiera RobbinsPeter Hart|
|Hero Sandwich Blues||Heidi Carpenter|
|No title||Wade Tilton|
|Conrad Fails at Normal||New Puppet Order|
|Superstition||Jones Broderick from Charlottesville, VA|