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How do I get a job as a Muppeteer?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by Fozzie Bear, Sep 26, 2004.

  1. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    This question comes up so often it really DOES need it's own thread title. I figured just putting the actual question in there as the title of the thread would make it easier to find.

    So, who wants to answer it?

    Best I've ever known was that you make a short video tape and send it to them, they review it and notify you of any auditions.
  2. gfarkwort

    gfarkwort Member

    ....or put you on a possible freelance list of Puppeteers
  3. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    be prepared for dissapointment though, they have a large rouster of possible puppeteers, and considering how few jobs they actually have, i would say that you are better off trying to get work with other puppet companys,

    face facts , the muppets just dont do a whole lot anymore, even sesame street has cut down its shooting season, they only film for about 6 weeks this year, so i would suggest you start looking else wear, somebody out there is sure to come up with the next big thing
  4. Barry Lee

    Barry Lee Active Member


    I sorta agree you would do fine maybe doing some animation AND puppet show thing with Muley.That might be neat.:zany:
  5. Whatever

    Whatever Active Member

    I think Kevin knows all this, he just startyed a thread for others who don;'t know it.
    On the documentary about the Dark Crystal, Jim Henson said that when they looked for puppeteers they looked for people who could express everything with their hands.
    Collgoff likes this.
  6. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    That's probably true but I would suggest that people not make assumptions or base expectations on shows or books from the 70s/80s (or even 90s). The company is very different today than it was then or even a few years ago. Focus on becoming a good puppeteer if it's what you really want and then see where it takes you.
  7. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    exactly, its not 1975 any more, so dont be expecting any miracles , even if disney does more with the muppets, in order to puppeteer for the muppets in film and tv you need to be a member of one of the big actor unions, its not like you can just walk in there and expect them to say ok great heres your puppet .

    if you are lucky enough to land a gig with them expect to spend most of your time assisting the core performers, doing right hands , and holding rods, or performing tails for puppets, dont think you are gonna be a main performer any time soon, it takes years before they let you, and if you think about it, how many new puppet characters have really made a break out, aside from pepe(no i dont think jonny and sal count stupid lounge singer and monkey, eeesh)
  8. leliebel

    leliebel New Member

    and look on the bright side, if you work for other companies you get the chance to build a resume.
  9. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

    (Yeah, I was doing this mainly as the staple thread for this question for other folks).

    The reality of the "dream" of working for The Muppets is HARSH! Same for those who want to animate for Disney (since that's all gone now, except for CGI), and those who want to cartoon in magazines, newspapers, or comic books. Getting in requires the 'who you know' nowadays. That, or you go on a LONG list of possibilities.
  10. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    I think it's only harsh for those who think that they can apply to Henson or Disney or whoever, they'll get hired and be set for life which of course isn't the way it works. The thing to do is become very, very good and get to know other people in the `biz. Then if you're lucky you'll either be in the right place at the right time or be so good they have to hire you.
  11. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    and of course all that depends on them continuing to do things, and face facts people, the quality of the shows of late has been dismall, and to be quite frank, despite all the hoobla surounding this wizrad of oz thing, if you take a step back it just looks like a really bad idea, for once i wish they would try to do someting that wasnt some "EDGY" take on a old story, i mean really, who thought that Tarantino thing was a good idea, ??????its just way to obvious,

    any way i digress, there is work out there as a puppeteer, and puppet builder, so just focus on doing work that you like, any muppeteer will tell u the same thing, they didnt all start at the muppets, many did work on other shows way before they joined the muppet troupe, and some actually work else where between muppet gigs, its not like they are all pulling down the big checks,(granted they make more than your average puppet builder, but anyway)
  12. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Active Member

    It's funny people get so caught up puppetry-wise in the Muppety stuff (I suppose I am guilty of that too though). A puppeteer from Florida was telling me last year how whenever he used to see Jim Henson at puppet festivals he usually ignored the people doing Muppet-like work and would check out people doing more original work.
  13. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    very true, it unfortunate that the only thing people really think of when you say puppet is the hand mouth style made famous by Jim, there are lots of interesting stlyes of puppet and puppet theatre out there, from marionettes, to rod puppets, to the indonesian Wayang Gollucks,

    the more puppetry you know, and learn , the better a puppeteer you are,

    despite there talents as muppet puppeteers, if you through many of them another style of puppet they would be lost, its all in what you know, ya know
  14. Luke

    Luke Active Member

    Maybe you could clear this up. Seeing as there is little Muppet production work each year how come we don't see the main Muppeteers doing stuff for other companies? I guess they are all on retainers but then that's gotta be very expensive for Henson considering they would be paid for a year to do about 6 weeks work. Steve Whitmire seems to be the only one out there regularly doing appearances. Do the others do non-puppeteering work at Henson or something too? I see Bill Baretta is starting to produce.
  15. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member


    wasnt speaking so much about your core groupp people, they get paid very well and dont really need to do other things, but there are other performers, that while they may be featured, they dont only work for henson , noel macneil has done other things, since his bear hey day,while he still performs bear he does work on other things, and it may not all be muppet style stuff, sp peopel are alos writers, and producers, so do stage work , they are multy dimensional talents, they are not just "muppet people"
  16. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Active Member

  17. The Good Doctor

    The Good Doctor New Member

    Puppet Stuff

    "the quality of the shows of late has been dismal, and to be quite frank, despite all the hoopla surrounding this wizard of oz thing, if you take a step back it just looks like a really bad idea, for once I wish they would try to do something that wasn’t some "EDGY" take on a old story, I mean really, who thought that Tarantino thing was a good idea,??????Its just way to obvious"

    (Reference quote above) - Well gang I have been saying this for a long time. I am a huge Muppet fan, but the crap they are cranking out lately really stinks.

    It has always been my dream to work for the Muppets as a performer, I do a really good Kermit, Floyd, Sam the Eagle, and Dr. Teeth, all though I am still working on The Good Doctor, I haven’t got his voice pattern down yet. Eventually they entire cast of Muppets will need to be replaced, because they really can not go on for forever, and I think that they will probably do just what they did when Jim passed, and higher some one on the inside.

    So let’s be realistic, the dream need not die. The Muppets have given us all the ability to dream, and shown us that truly nothing is impossible. It is important to be true to the craft, and be the best puppet performer you can be. Weather you build your own or buy your own, make each puppet distinctly there own character. You may recall a program on MTV called Ziffel and Olly, the main character was made out of yellow play dough stretched over a guy’s socked hand to create a face. If they can make it on TV with a lame show like that, I would think any one who is dedicated to the craft can make.

    Frank OZ has always had things going on out side of Muppets and the Henson family. From cameo appearances in films, to performing Yoda in Star Wars, to directing and producing films. In to day’s world the more you know, the better off you will be.

    Jim has allready given us the tools we need to be successful in the trade, at the end of the Muppet Movie he charges us with a very powerful statement.

    "Life is like a movie, write your own ending keep believing keep pretending.. weve don just what we set out to do, and still the lovers, the dreamers and YOU! " (don't let any one tell you you can't, never give up on your dreams, because Jim started out with a had puppet made out of his mothers old coat, and look where it took him/ us)
  18. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    well said good doctor,

    i myself am never able to sound quite as optomistic as you, lol,

    guess im just a little jaded, but well said non the less :)
  19. rumtar_10165

    rumtar_10165 New Member

    I can answer that,
    I had came very close to working with Jim Henson back in the 80's.
    The Muppets is just like any other puppetry but now they had came so far from Sam and Friends to todays standard.
    It may look easy but it is not.
    You have to think backwards when performing on video, Like your left is your right or vice versa.
    And you must learn the Henson punch, that is where the puppet mouths every word you say. (to see what I mean watch a muppet tape or a tape called "The World of Jim Henson.)

    step 2
    is an easy one, you have to know how to perform all sorts of puppets from the rod to fullbody.

    step 3
    giving the puppet life.
    I have my own dog puppet and did his voice plus others. They wrote back and said at the time that the dogs voice was the most strongest voice, it was most original voice they had heard.

    What happened you ask? Why have I not become a muppeteer?
    Money. I was unemployed at the time and was short of money to make a trip to New York. Now I am working and have any time to go back to my dream, but the
    fact my dream was crippled when Jim died. I felt that the world had ended, a great teacher died, a mentor, to me he was the magic that kept the muppets alive and well.
    I thought that with jim dead the muppets died. I was glad to be wrong.
    and if they need muppeteers, hey who knows I mightbecome my lifelong dream, A
    Muppetmaster.

    Just a quick note to all who reads this. I am still building the puppets of mine only a lot better then what I had made, and perform them in churches in my town.
  20. ravagefrackle

    ravagefrackle New Member

    not exactly an answer to the topics quetion. but some good info to the people here who may not understand the basics of muppet puppeteering, ,

    it might be more helpful to describe how you were asked to come and audition.

    thats what this forum topic is all about, im sure that many peopel here would like to here about it,
    what wewre the steps you went thru?and how long before you sent in your audition did you spend prepearing your tape?,

    granted the processes is most likely different today , but it might help clear up some misconceptions that many of the younger people here have.


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