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Crank Yankers

Discussion in 'Puppet News' started by Fozzie Bear, Jun 3, 2002.

  1. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I'm ashamed to say so, but I saw this show on Comedy Channel at 10:30 pm CST and it was funny in my very tired state...well, one part of the show was funny.

    They took prank phone call tapes they made and performed them out with pupepts. It was funny when I realized what they were doing.

    Really well-made puppets, and kind of funny that they have these kind of shows starting up now, what with the Muppets coming out with a movie in the winter, and a series next year, right after the network demise of Greg the Bunny, which I actually warmed up to after my complaints, but keep in mind this show is very much for the adults.

    Just a heads up for the grown up folks here on the boards.
  2. Crazy Harry

    Crazy Harry Well-Known Member

    I liked it as well. It's not great, but it's off to a good start. I do think the skit about the guy calling the sex hotline for his deaf friend got a little to nasty.
  3. radionate

    radionate Well-Known Member

    It's getting really bad reviews from the critics too. I haven't seen it yet, but then again, I never get to watch TV much at all.
  4. scarylarrywolf

    scarylarrywolf Well-Known Member

    Well, speaking from my experience with the show (which consists of watching the advertisements), I believe that the show is a disgrace to puppetry itself. I give credit to the puppet builders alone. The puppeteers, from what I have seen hardly know what they're doing with a piece of fabric on their arms, and are spurred on with their performance only by their filthy humor (which is not actually humor, but sexual inuendos meant to make people squirm into laughing and takes no talent whatsoever to enforce). Now, I admit that I have only seen the previews, but, usually being made up from the parts of the show which are considered the best parts, I can infer that the rest of the show is most likely more disgusting. Their advertisments are a complete turn off to me. I hope the Muppets will bring the world back to the moral humor (which IS actaully humor) with their next big hits -- so let's hope disney DOESN'T buy them! :)

    -"Scary" Larry Wolf
  5. Crazy Harry

    Crazy Harry Well-Known Member

    I know I said I like the show somewhat in my last post. But after seeing yesterday's episode, my opinion has dropped greatly. This show tries to use so many good things, well built puppets, tallented comidians and amusing IDEAS for their prank calls. But when they put it all together, it all just went so horribly wrong. How did they convince Denis Leary to do something this stupid?
  6. Thom

    Thom Member

    - scarylarrywolf: The puppeteers, from what I have seen hardly know what they're doing with a piece of fabric on their arms, and are spurred on with their performance only by their filthy humor...

    Please don't discredit the puppeteers. I have worked with a couple of them and they are some of the best around (some have worked with Henson). I agree that the material is harsh but that's not the puppeteers' fault. If you want to judge the puppeteering, watch their work (see an episode) and try not to concentrate on the content.

    I'd like to see more shows with puppets. Let's hope that Greg and Crank Yankers are paving the way for more shows and more opportunities to see more puppets on TV!
  7. scarylarrywolf

    scarylarrywolf Well-Known Member


    I tried to stress that I had merely seen the previews. I admit this does not give me the right to criticize the puppeteers, and I'll try not to do it in the future with so little evidence, but that's what it looked like to me from those edited portions of the show. Still, I am saddened that anyone that had ever worked for Henson would be involved in something like that. I see your point about "more shows involving puppets", but I just see this show as another vehicle to promote filthy "humor". If they would keep that out, I'm sure it would be great.:)

    By the way, what do you mean by "that's not the puppeteers' fault"? I thought the shows were impromptu.

    --"Scary" Larry Wolf
  8. Thom

    Thom Member

    The shows are recordings of actors (?) calling prank calls in New York and Nevada (where it's not illegal to record phone conversations) and the puppeteers are just lipsynching the recordings to turn them into a skit. The puppeteers are not the ones generating the calls. They're just reinacting them.

    There hasn't been much going on for second and third string puppeteers at Henson so I'm glad to see my friends getting work and exposure (even if it isn't the same kind of exposure they've gotten in the past).
  9. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I have to say that I enjoyed most of the show by this point. Most. I think they have an incredible idea, but (as with Greg) I think they're using puppetry as a shock tool to gain a much sought after laugh (not the puppeteers, the show's creators). I think the show could have the same effect for humor sans dirty words and such.

    That's just me, and I agree: we need more puppetry on TV.

  10. Crazy Harry

    Crazy Harry Well-Known Member

    After my last post I feel that I should say at least one nice thing about this show. Here it is. I did find Special Ed to be very funny.
  11. scarylarrywolf

    scarylarrywolf Well-Known Member

    Hi Thom

    Aha! That clears up why the performances looked a little akward to me. From my experience anyway, it seems easier to generate the puppet's voice yourself rather than move the mouth while someone else speaks. Gotcha.

    I've got to know: which Muppets did you perform in MFS? (I looked up your profile)

    --"Scary" Larry Wolf
  12. puppetguy

    puppetguy Well-Known Member

    And what, pray tell, is wrong with "filthy humor." Listen, scarylarry, I don't know what sort of Sam the Eagle "moral dignity" you want, but the Muppets danced all around, over, and on top of that in their hey-day.

    And I'd like to know just what exactly is "your experience" that you keep basing your opinions on.
  13. Thom

    Thom Member

    You'd be surprised how much puppetry (including Muppets) is done to pre-recorded tracks. It is much more difficult as a puppeteer to "synch-up" with the recordings and you have to rehearse alot. One most notable show done this way is "Book of Pooh".

    scarylarrywolf - To answer your question, I performed Crazy Harry in one scene and Sam the Eagle in another. I also assisted on most major characters (by assisted, I mean I was doing one or both of their hands while the head was performed by someone else). This includes Piggy, Fozzie, Rowlf, Scooter, Dr. Bunsen, Statler, Clifford and many others. I was a few different aliens and my leg cameos in the background of the "Piggy takes over the show" scene. And for kicks, note Kermit's alarm clock going off at the beginning of "Brick House" - that was me.

    FOZZI3B3AR - I have to agree with you (as much as I want to support this show). A guaranteed laugh is possible if you just make your puppet swear or say something suggestive. It's the simplist way. That's why Jim was so good at what he did. He didn't have to go for the "back pocket" to make us laugh. Puppetry should have some dignity, right?
  14. puppetguy

    puppetguy Well-Known Member

    >Puppetry should have some dignity, right?

    You mean like Sal Monkey calling Bobo a "butt-head" What about Spamela Hamdersen?? Granted these examples are post-Jim, but come on...Muppets are not above the "back pocket" as you say. Granted, its not "meet the feebles" (which I can't sit through) but they're not precious either.

    THOM- On the set of MFS, did you encounter puppets swearing when the cameras weren't rolling? I have noticed that there is a natural tendency to make puppets enact the profane. Everytime I hand someone one of my puppets, the first thing they do after putting their hand inside is either making it cuss or posing the fingers so the puppet is shooting someone the bird. Why? Because humans are not supposed to get away with this kind of behavior, but puppets can. Somehow, it becomes more acceptable because we know that the puppet does not exist in our world, but in a fantasy world of its own.

    Now, I'm not saying I hope the Muppets start swearing and flipping people off, but you gotta be careful about this "dignity." Otherwise you'll be introducing Wayne and Wanda.....know what I'm sayin'?
  15. Thom

    Thom Member

    People didn't swear with puppets off camera during the filming of MFS because they new it was mundane. Why go for the cheap laugh? It doesn't show real skill. In fact, if I had done it, I would've looked amateur in front of the true professionals (Steve, Frank, Dave). There is no dignity in that.

    I agree that there is room for that humor. I've been known to use it myself. But it takes a better comedian/performer to make someone laugh without just swearing or shooting a bird don't you think? Anyone can swear. Anyone. So what makes that special?

    Don't get me wrong, I'm the first one to say that I love Dennis Leary or George Carlin, but they're not puppets are they? The swearing is only color in their act. It IS the punchline if a puppet does it.

    So my definition of dignity is "pride in your work and/or yourself". Do you feel proud of your friends who make your puppet swear? Is it funny? How about the second or third time?

    Shock humor is only that. Shock me once, I may laugh. Keep doing it and I'll get bored or annoyed.

    I still watch Muppet reruns because they still make me laugh. There must be some dignity in longevity?
  16. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    I wanted to share a story you reminded me of:

    Working on our first project years ago, a writer on the show (who I must add HATED puppets) brought in one of those "funny outtakes from TV around the world" Fox specials to show the puppeteers. Along with the requsit Japanese game shows and nude italian beer commercials it had a segment the host introduced as "And now something from the angriest puppets I have ever seen..."

    What followed was a series of outtakes from an Australian kid's show with a chicken, a wolf and some other animal I can't recall. Everytime a puppeteer flubbed a line they'd end up swearing, which would encourage the other puppets to start swearing and usually incite some baudy or naughty behavior. It was like the puppets had alternate off-camera personas and when I saw Greg the Bunny I wondered if the creators had ever seen the same clips.

    Ten minutes of puppets swearing, flipping the bird and behaving badly was crass, cheap and the funniest thing I have ever seen. The cast and crew laughed for fifteem minutes solid.

    It wasn't the Muppets, but people still talk about those clips eight years later.
  17. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I'm ashamed to say so, but I can't really say I'm on top of things here...Muley, when something flubs or gets messed up, DOES tend to get a little angry at me and shouts at me and says not-so-nice things to me sometimes.

    Talk about your messed-up puppeteers, huh?

    I would rate some of what we did as "G" or "Family", some can be considered PG or PG-13...however, nothing we will show can be considered beyond anything on network television today...absolutely NOTHING cable-ized.

    I don't want to censor anyone, but I think that I agree with the one who said do it once and it's funny, do it continuously and it's boring, and it's true with all humor and stories. It isn't something that will last long, really. You can do those crank calls without crude humor and they would be just as funny or funnier to me...but that's only TO ME.

    Just me talking,
  18. fluffmuppet

    fluffmuppet Well-Known Member

    Hmmm..Puppetguy is totally right when he says his friends make his puppet act crude. I recently brought one of my new-made puppets to school, and some of my friends wanted to try him out. Everytime, too, they would proceed to make the puppet act vulgar (swearing, flippin the bird, etc.) It was funny at the time, but when my other pals started doing it too, it got a little annoying, less funny.

    To me, personally, I don't like adult humor too much. I mean, everyone's humor is different, but I think when humor doesn't need to have vulgarity in it, it can still be really funny. (Muppet Show for example!)

    I can kind of understand why puppets are now taking their toll in adult humor nowadays. Television has WAY more violence and sex.... and children are worse than ever because of the media they see, so they're pretty much used to it, and Crank Yankers is no exception. So, I'm not surprised, really. I do like SOME adult humor, but sometimes things can get a little out of hand.

    I grew up in the early 80's & 90's, and shows around that time had alot more to do with imagination and teaching lessons. Now, it seems everyone's running out of ideas. In my opinion, it's getting a little corrupt. I wish there was more of an "entertainment" variety in T.V., which seems to be lacking alot of recently.

  19. CaptCrouton

    CaptCrouton Well-Known Member

    Interesting discussion. I guess my disagreement would be with the terms. I consider true adult humor to be ACTUAL humor that goes right over kids heads. Great examples are the Muppet stuff, some of the Simpsons, Rocky & Bullwinkle stuff, that no kid would catch. (and neither would some adults who were less bright)

    The profanities and "out of the pocket" stuff (I like the term, I've never heard that before) is what I consider "boys locker room" humor. The kind of crass stuff that kids will say to compensate for their embarrassment of being undressed in front of the other guys.

    It's called " ," or " s only." Such an interesting paradox since it's so immature and base.

    I love the old Far Side comics because you had to have a certain education to get the jokes for the references. I love the Muppets because it has humor at so many levels. There's not alot of that on prime time anymore. And don't even get me started about the first time I saw the Adam West "Batman" show as an adult. I thought the program was so serious as a kid, while it was silly played straight faced. Amazing. I could watch all those episodes again and appreciate it in a whole new way. But I digress...

  20. Thom

    Thom Member

    I must agree with Capt.Crouton.

    I believe there is room for puppets to break into prime time again with consideration to the current audience. Adult humor and puppets should be welcomed and embraced. But it's the Capt. who said it best:
    I consider true adult humor to be ACTUAL humor that goes right over kids heads.

    Well said.

    I know my daughter (4) wants to watch Greg and Crank Yankers but they aren't appropriate are they? She loves puppets just as much as she loves animation and wants to watch it all. What happened to humor on two levels? They do it with animation all the time (Warner Bros, Simpsons, Shrek).

    I only hope that the next good puppet prime time show idea doesn't get shut down because the networks think that "adult" puppet humor has now been done. (I think this is the thing that bugs me the most - shouldn't we have breakthrough puppetry that paves the way for more? Not just a gimmick that will make the next great idea look like a gimmick?)

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