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Stephanie D'Abruzzo responds about Caroll Spinney

Discussion in 'Sesame Street' started by HiHo3892, Nov 19, 2017.

  1. HiHo3892

    HiHo3892 Active Member

    Matt isn't the right fit for Big Bird anymore. He could do the voice when he was younger. Now it's essentially a completely different character.
    BlakeConor14 likes this.
  2. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    Well, you know, Kevin was having similar problems with Elmo, but the circumstances were different: Kevin was the one who made Elmo the established character he is today. Even so, as Kevin got older, Elmo's falscetto wasn't quite as high as it was when Kevin was younger. It happens. Abby is sounding lower than she did before; Telly sounds lower than he did before; even David's Cookie Monster voice is noticably different than it was when he first inherited the character.

    Even before Mel Blanc died, almost all of the Looney Tunes' voices sounded like a register or octavive lower than they used to back in their glory days of the 40s and 50s.
    Zappetman and LittleJerry92 like this.
  3. LittleJerry92

    LittleJerry92 Well-Known Member

    Voices change as you get older. It's just part of life whether we like it or not.
    ConsummateVs, Zappetman and D'Snowth like this.
  4. HiHo3892

    HiHo3892 Active Member

    Completely different. Elmo still sounded distinctly like Elmo, Abby still sounds distinctly like Abby. Sure there might be slightly varied. Even Caroll's Big Bird sounded a little bit different 10 years ago than it did in the 80's. This is natural. Voices will change. Steve's Kermit changed a ton from The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson.

    With Mel Blanc, sure his voice changed. But it wasn't noticeable to the average viewer. Daffy Duck was still Daffy duck. It was a natural progression. Even the current voice actors for the Looney tunes know how to distinctly capture that same feel.

    Matt's Big Bird doesn't distinctly sound like Big Bird. The same way let's say Ryan Dillon's Elmo sounds like Elmo.

    I realize voices change, but that doesn't mean just because Matt's voice changed means he's still the right fit for Big Bird. All the other examples still sounded like those respective character. Big Bird sounds like Barney the dinosaur. Matt used to sound like Big Bird. Now he doesn't. It's as simple as that. It's noticeable. Unlike those other examples mentioned.

    I'm not saying there's an issue with his voice changing. I'm saying there's an issue with him playing Big Bird. If it doesn't sound or feel like Big Bird. It's problematic.

    Had Matt's voice changed and he still sounded like big bird, I wouldn't have a problem with it. So you really can't compare the situation to those examples.

    If Kevin's voice to the point where it didn't sound remotely like Elmo, I would say the exact same thing.

    We're not talking about the fact that Matt has no control over his voice changing. We're talking about the fact that he can't do big bird.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  5. HiHo3892

    HiHo3892 Active Member

    I don't have a problem with his voice changing. I have a problem with the fact that he doesn't sound remotely like the character. I realize voices change. But that doesn't mean he's right for Big Bird. It's as simple as that. I get that it's a part of life. But we're not talking about the fact that Matt has no control over his voice changing. We're talking about the fact that he can't do big bird.

    I think you're confusing issues.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  6. LittleJerry92

    LittleJerry92 Well-Known Member

    Well, end of the day, it was Sesame Workshop's decision to pick him as the character and that's all there is to it.
  7. HiHo3892

    HiHo3892 Active Member

    Again I'm talking purely about my opinions about Matt's performance as Big Bird.

    "At the end of the day", it doesn't matter who picked him or the fact that he has no control over his voice changing. He isn't the right fit anymore. That's really it.

    Even my 6 year old cousin tried to convince me it was a new character when I showed her Matt's Big Bird. We aren't the only ones noticing. If he's not passable to the general audience the same way his Count or Jacobson's Oscar is.

    You're talking about all these other factors that I completely agree with but at the same time don't directly address the idea that Vogel isn't the right fit for the character.

    (Also I've noticed that you like to say "at the end of the day" a lot. It's in almost every one of your comments lol)
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2017
  8. HiHo3892

    HiHo3892 Active Member

    You're actually wrong here. Caroll is no longer performing the physical aspect of his characters. He has just been dubbing the voices.
  9. BlakeConor14

    BlakeConor14 Well-Known Member

    But 83 year old men and women should not be working.He should be enjoying the last few years with his family because I hate to admit it but Carroll will be gone in a few years
    LittleJerry92 likes this.
  10. HiHo3892

    HiHo3892 Active Member

    He has stated many times that he has no intention of retiring as he loves his job and he can't imagine walking away from Big Bird and Oscar. Nobody at Sesame Workshop is making him continue when he doesn't want to. That's been his choice. He's doing it simply because he enjoys it. Some people just like to keep active. That's entirely their choice. Nobody should force Caroll to retire if he doesn't wish to.

    He just does the voices. It's more of a hobby than anything. If you love what you do for a living, you probably wouldn't want to retire either.

    Look at June Foray. She was in her late nineties and still did the voices for her characters because she loved it so much. Same as Stan Lee. He says "what's the use in retiring if you love what you do?"

    Again it's Caroll's wish to be his characters. Sesame Street is respecting his desires.

    Fran Brill retired a few years ago. It's entirely up to the individual. So I completely respect Caroll's decisions. If he feels he still loves to voice Big Bird and Oscar, that's fine. If he doesn't, that's fine too. It's up to him.

    Caroll actually has plenty of free time. His wife and him travel a lot. I believe last year he discussed that they went on a European cruise. So it's possible to enjoy time with family while still doing the work that you love.
  11. BlakeConor14

    BlakeConor14 Well-Known Member

    He may not want to retire but he might have to.His voice iso going and his body isn't fit enough to carry the pupper so he might want to continue but he might have to retire because of he just can't do it
  12. HiHo3892

    HiHo3892 Active Member

    Again, he isn't doing the physical puppetry. Other performers are doing the puppetry for Big Bird and Oscar and he's just dubbing in the voices. I've already mentioned this. He no longer manuevers the puppets so it's irrelevant to bring up that idea.

    He's mostly retired. It doesn't take much to do voices. June Foray was doing it until she was 99 and David Attenborough is 91 and still doing narration work.
  13. BlakeConor14

    BlakeConor14 Well-Known Member

    Yeah but his voice is going so it will be harder for him to dub lines
    LittleJerry92 likes this.
  14. Bliffenstimmers

    Bliffenstimmers Well-Known Member

    I don't get why HiHo's complaining about it anyway. Not like that's going to do anything in replacing Matt. I understand it is his opinion, and everyone can have an opinion, but my opinion is I think it is an opinion he is taking far too serious.

    I honestly think, from the most recent clips I've seen, Matt doesn't sound all that different as Big Bird. He's still got that tired, soft tone of voice that Spinney gave to the bird in his later years. Perhaps it is lacking in the energy Matt used to have while doing Bird in the Journey to Ernie skits, but it's still Big Bird enough.

    Also, as many of us know, voice acting is only a third of the puppetry process. There is also the prerequisites of having the ability to stay in character and ad-lib when necessary, and creating convincing body gestures and facial expressions. It's much more difficult with full bodied puppets, because they are not just something you slip on your arm. You have to use your whole body to operate a huge, heavy costume. I applaud Matt for being able to perform a puppet like Big Bird, on top of the dozens of other Muppets he has.

    I wonder if they would ever consider giving Big Bird the Gorg treatment, by having his face be radio operated outside while someone else does the body gestures inside. Theoretically, I think that would make it easier for Spinney to do Big Bird. Still, it could pose some problems if used outside the set of Sesame Street. Me saying that isn't going to help anything either, but it's just a thought.
    LittleJerry92 likes this.
  15. HiHo3892

    HiHo3892 Active Member

    To me it doesn't feel like the same character. I have no problem with anyone else thinking differently. But to me Matt performance doesn't feel like Big Bird. I actually like the fact that you feel different about this than me, and I'm glad that you feel that he's doing a good job with Big Bird. Although I share a different opinion than you, your opinion about his performance is every bit as justified as mine and I celebrate that you don't have the same problems with him that I do.

    However, Big Bird is an important character nonetheless, he's one of the best known children's characters in the world and it's important to preserve that character's consistency and integrity.

    I'm not saying there's anything we can do about it. I'm just saying I feel the character would be better served with another performer who is a better fit. Peter Linz has performed Big Bird in the past and I
    think he would be a better fit.

    No, voice isn't the only aspect. But it's an important one. Did Steve's Kermit sound exactly like Jim's? No. But we bought into the idea that they were the same character. There's a sense of continuity and consistency that I don't feel in Matt's Big Bird. I don't feel like it's the same Big Bird who ran away from the Dodo's, grieved about Mr. Hopper, etc.

    Consistency is important. There's shouldn't be a "Matt's Big Bird" or "Caroll's Big Bird." There should just be Big Bird. There aren't multiple versions of the character. That philosophy is problematic. The Big Bird we see now should feel like the same Big Bird we watched 20 years ago. Just as Eric's Grover feels or Stephanie's Prairie Dawn.

    You do bring up an interesting point however. The fact that Big Bird isn't using the same technology that the gorgs utilized. It's surprising that they didn't implement this a while Jim was still alive. I would imagine cost would be a huge factor. Also maybe there's a desire to maintain the simplicity, but it's definitely an interesting discussion point. I feel like if Sesame Street began in 2017 Big Bird would likely be using the same type of puppetry used by the gorgs.
  16. Bliffenstimmers

    Bliffenstimmers Well-Known Member

    Firstly, I sincerely thought your reply was very well written, and my response now will likely pale in comparison. I tried writing down something at first, but it wound up being too long, so I'll try to make my point brief.

    The main thing is, for Sesame Workshop and their goals, the consistency and popularity of Big Bird is really less of a problem in comparison to other things. Sesame's shows are very heavily researched and tested. They know what's important for kids, and what works with them. It can't be helped that kids around the world prefer Bert, Ernie and Elmo over Big Bird. And besides that, Big Bird's really only ever seen in North America. He only makes occasional appearances outside of the US.

    I know I forgot to address the issue of Big Bird's characterization in general, but I don't think there's a lot I can say that other people aren't already saying well enough. My final thought: Bird's lived a fantastic life for a 6 year old, for nearly 50 years. I think the bird really does deserve a rest. It's sad, yes, but if that's the way the bird bounces -- not like he can fly, anyway -- so be it. We'll still have great memories to look back upon while the Workshop fulfills its goals to educate the modern child.

    PS: I never tried to mean that anyone's opinion was more valid or less valid. Everyone here has made great points, and it's been a great discussion! I usually don't find a lot of worthwhile conversations like these, so thanks to all.
  17. Pig's Laundry

    Pig's Laundry Well-Known Member

    I don't think Big Bird needs to be retired. The problem isn't that he's run his course, the problem is the writers don't seem to know what to do with him. Looking at many recent episodes, he's rather bland, has few lines, and rarely gets a story to himself. But Big Bird is still a popular character, not just with adults, but because older kids can relate to him. He's one of the few characters that not only has a special bond with all the other Muppets, but he can have episodes that none of the other characters can. He's been the center of episodes tackling things like death, racism, and more recently bullying. I think in season 42, the writers really found Big Bird's personality again in a great way. The Good Birds Club and Super Maria, he really felt like the old Big Bird again. His humor, naivety, his curiosity, and extreme desire to be liked were all there in those episodes. And there's still so many potential stories they can do with that. He's one of the most rich and well developed characters in the history of preschool television, and it would be a shame and foolish if they got rid of him. I say if writing for him is so hard, than some of the writers should be fired, not Big Bird.
    Bliffenstimmers and cahuenga like this.
  18. Bliffenstimmers

    Bliffenstimmers Well-Known Member

    I didn't mean "take a rest" as in "get rid of completely," but rather "let the other characters have some fun for a while". Big Bird can still be around as a figurehead. It would be great to see him take on some new challenges or just be the same old bird he was, but unfortunately that isn't in our hands. We only have the power of suggestion and speculation. Sure there were those stories a few seasons ago, but that was a few seasons ago, before the HBO partnership. The staff's changed around a bit because of that, unfortunately. But by the 50th season, I should hope they do some big things with Bird. It would be stupid for him not to be part of another milestone celebration, especially as important as that.
  19. D'Snowth

    D'Snowth Well-Known Member

    I'll admit it: as far as the recasts go, one recast I'm not particularly crazy about is Dave Goelz as Waldorf. Like certain other performers (such as Leslie, or even Frank, to an extent), much of his voices sound like variations of the same one, and I feel like his Waldorf sounds like a slightly older Boober. At the same time, I grew up with both his and Jim's Waldorf, so it's not really that big a deal either. Similarly, there's also the matter of Statler: we've had Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Jerry again, then Steve Whitmire.
    LittleJerry92 likes this.
  20. MuppetSpot

    MuppetSpot Well-Known Member

    And now Peter Linz’s Statler.

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