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What characters have you created?

Discussion in 'Puppet Building and Performing' started by ashberg, Dec 10, 2003.

  1. ashberg

    ashberg New Member

    I see a lot of discussion about the building of puppets on a technical level, but I haven't found much info on the creation of characters and personalities.

    My white fluffy monster I had (the one with the long arms and legs) was a simpleton. He spoke really slowly and didnt know much about anything. He was naive to the max, and had a humourous love for animals. (He told many rude animal jokes... tsk tsk) I really enjoyed developing his character at the age of 14. Almost 6 years later I'm really looking forward to developing the personalities of the puppets I will create.

    Whats your puppet's personalities like? :D
  2. Beebers

    Beebers New Member

    We have a bunch of wicked chefs; we built a killer Swedish Chef which we can't use, obviously; he's identical to the real deal, but just for our own fun at home; and several other chefs including a hilarious Julia Child.

    We have used-car salesmen, newscasters, an annoying accident-prone individual based on a real friend of ours, mountain men (hillbillies), old guys (not Statler-Waldorf knockoffs), hippies, mob guys, critters, delivery people, etc., etc., etc. We strive for originality -- while our admiration for things Henson is boundless, our own preference is to be as unusual and new as possible. That is absolutely not to be read as a criticism of any other forms, it's simply our own artistic preference. As for personalities, because this is a part of how we make a living, we don't really get too detailed about them out on forums and such, sorry. For us it's rather like giving away recipes that could have been sold as a cookbook.

    It's a cool question, I hope you get some other posts here.

    Do you still have your white fluffy monster?
  3. buckshot

    buckshot New Member

    the first puppet given to me was a purple monster-type character about 10 years ago. at the time i was mesmerized by Bobcat Goldthwait, so i gave the puppet (Walter) a voice and characteristics very similar to Bobcat's. :crazy:

    i have a few characters in the works including a nervous robot, a smart-alec monkey, an eagle from the Bronx, and more.
  4. Phantom

    Phantom New Member

    My puppets are themselves, little actors. Each performance, a character description directs the puppeteers in how the puppet plays the part. The puppets then become the actors.

    Now, certain puppeteers interact well will certain puppets and I let them develop a character for the puppet, but they still change the character to fit the part.
  5. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    Mine isn't too identical, but useful and fun. I used him at ChickFilA for kids' night for a quick segment on making a sandwich, and when he added the 'chicken' to the sandwich, a chicken (borrowed from a church) that was sitting there attacked him.

    Photos of my puppets, the main one being Muley the Mule, can be seen at www.picturetrail.com/muleythemule

    As far as developing personalities and characteristics for certain characters, there's several different methods.

    Charles Schulz said he never told Charlie Brown and Snoopy what to do, he would sit around and doodle until something popped up that made him think of a comic strip, so then the characters told HIM what they wanted to do.

    You can base characteristics off people you know. Bill Baretta based the way Pepe talks on his wife's aunt, who ends all her sentences with "Okay?" Come to think of it, I have a Korean customer who does the same thing.

    I used to have a cheat sheet I created for folks who asked me this question, and now I don't remember what I've done with it. If you have a puppet made, you can pretty much base what its personality is on the look of the character; if it's a character you plan to build, then think about these items: what would it do in a particular situation (crossing the street, trying to buy something and not enough money, being followed by an alternate species, etc); what emotions does it have toward certain items (anger, knowledge, attack). Pretty much, put the character in YOUR place throughout the day and think about what he/she might do.

    Muley is his own personality stuck in the back recesses of my subconscious now. I'm me the rest of the time, but when I've got the puppet/costume on, he comes out. He's funnier, more entertaining, more outgoing, and a lot less worried about saying things than I am. He's a very VERY well developed personality, even such that everyone that knows me and knows him talks about Muley in 3rd person (even me). And that's either very talented or very crazy! LOL!!

    Finally, there are books for writers about developing characters and that is always useful; not to mention that one set of audio tapes by Stephen King which discusses story telling and character development (which I've not heard but did hear that it's VERY good)!
  6. buckshot

    buckshot New Member

    i totally agree with the fact that a puppets personality comes from it's physical characteristics. i have some puppets where the design alone spawned the voice and behavior. then there are some puppets that are based on people that i've known at one time or another. the puppets' personalities are identical to the person that i've molded them after. it's a very natural process.
  7. Beebers

    Beebers New Member

    Just looked at your site, most :cool: :cool: :cool: .

    Muley is adorable and apparently quite the babe magnet.

    You're a good cartoonist, Fozzini.
  8. doctort13

    doctort13 Member

    Giving characters "character"

    All my puppets start out on a sketch pad. I doodle various ideas until one clicks with me. Then I bounce the idea off my wife, and get her feedback since she is very good at suggesting ways to improve on my doodles.

    After the puppet is built I play around with it and try to "find it's voice". My latest creation "Cryril" MC- the monster of ceremonies, was going to have a light British accent. This didn't fit him, so I merged the voices of a oldies radio DJ and a guy who was once in a rock band with me. That voice, with a little adjustment, worked! Cyril's personality evolved as I played around with him. He's a wiseguy who loves a good (or bad) pun. He has performed at a puppet slam and a regional puppetry weekend retreat, both times he got BiG LAUGHS!
    Cyril's future "job" will be the MC of the cable television series "Wump Mucket".

    Take a look at a photo here: http://profiles.yahoo.com/doctort13
  9. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    THANKS!! :) You got any piccies online of your puppets, etc? There's a freebie part of picturetrail.com you can use without paying!
  10. ashberg

    ashberg New Member

    Cool... thanks to everyone for letting us know of your thoughts about character development. Puppetry is becoming more amazing with each day I read up on it... I mean, sure its just a bunch of foam and material... but these things we manipulate are alter-egos of one's self... A form of expression so peculiar and unique in each performance and in each puppet.

    My white fluffy monster exists somewhere, THAT I'm sure of. But where exactly, is another paradox all together. :(
  11. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    BIG WORD! OW! OWwooowooowooo! :zany:
  12. FreddytheFrog

    FreddytheFrog New Member

    chracater personality

    i know my puppet was created after my pet frog had died his name was freddy and that who i based it on a happy go lucky frog :) who loved everything around him boy do i miss him :cry: but at least now i captrued him in a way ill never lose him
  13. SgtPepper

    SgtPepper New Member

    I've invented a puppet character by the name of Jerry... obviously based on Jerry Garcia.
  14. When I was 10 and first discovered puppetry I went all out and mass-produced characters; that gave me a lot of experience and taught me a lot in the area of building puppets, but I really had no idea how to create a character. So about 3 years ago it struck me that it was probably important to create actual personalities for my puppets, and I did a bunch of thinking.

    Since I had made so many puppets (mostly felt scraps glued together) I decided to pick the best looking ones, remake them, and give them lives of their own.

    "Scary" Larry started out being the typical wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, but he has become the direct opposite -- he's now a wolf trying to rid himself of the "big bad" stereotype, yet held back by inate tendencies to be greedy and selfish and chase after the occassional sheep. He exemplifies a lot of my philosophy on human nature that way... except for the sheep part...

    My other characters include Pithair -- a caveman with no sense of modern, conventional living; Bruster the Rooster -- a chicken with the brains of Ed Norton ("The Honeymooners"); Buck Sheep -- a rich, pompous fella; and Pelton the Beaver, who is kind of a whimsical nature-lover. He's still in re-construction and development.

    Well, that's it for my clan so far, but I'm working on creating a cast for a puppet film I'm hoping to do sometime in my years at college...
  15. Buck-Beaver

    Buck-Beaver Well-Known Member

    It's been great to read this stuff about developing characters....I've been spending an inorindate amount of time trying to work out what I'm going to do with a character called Big Bear, who's the main villain in Bear Town. I've shot two slightly amateurish versions of this before and I never got a really good handle on Big Bear - how he should talk, react to other characters, etc. He always seemed to come across as either too "heavy" a villain or not serious enough. His voice is also very gruff and very hard on my throat. There's a short clip of me doing him in this video from `96.

    I originally envisioned Big Bear being something like Pacino's Big Boy Caprice (the similar name was just a coincidence) in "Dick Tracy" - but for us mere mortals that sort of over-the-top-scenery-chewing performance is difficult to pull off so I've spent hours over the past few months playing around with one of my old Big Bear puppets (I'm building a new one) trying to figure out what I should do with him as a character.

    Eventually I found myself practicing doing little things like flipping a silver dollar (shades of TwoFace from the Batman comics?), lighting a (fake) cigar, and trying to put him in intimidating poses. I love fiddling around with puppets and developing little physical tics and mannerisms like that. They can add a lot to character, or in this case help you figure out who the character is. I figured out eventually the trick to making Big Bear work was to make him more of a presence; to have him say as little as possible, talk only when he has to (and then very short, direct sentances) to make him appear more threatening and let his character be defined by what he didn't do, rather than what he actually does.

    I also doing characters like Scarry Larry (a wolf trying not to be "big and bad") - playing the character totally against what you would expect. Whenever I can I try to figure out what the obvious thing to do with a character would be and then I figure out what the opposite of that would be. It's always nice to give an audience something original.
  16. biblebetty

    biblebetty New Member

    Four years ago I was asked to be on a church puppet team, which I am still there and loving it!!! I was asked to be bible betty, a little girl with a dog named st. bernard. I had been a daycare lady at an elementary school for 4 yrs, Well first I gave her a lisp, then I remembered what children liked and the way they reacted to things. I made her six years old, and love food. her favorite was gummy bears. I had been involved with pupperty for 20yrs, and what I learn is when you give a puppet a history you give them life and they become very real to the children and adults who watch your shows. I also built a 5ft by 2ft whale for a Jonah show in October and three talking gift boxes for a show called the "Greatest Gift" where the gifts argue over who is the greatest gift. this was a christmas show.
  17. Fozzie Bear

    Fozzie Bear Well-Known Member

    I performed a turtle we called Speedy in children's church, and the kids later said I sounded like Gonzo, a voice I cannot recreate by trying. It was a one-shot character, so I took the church's turtle puppet and changed him up a little bit, put a small football helmet on his head and a sweater vest.
  18. biblebetty

    biblebetty New Member

    Hi everybody,
    well, about four years ago I was asked to join a church puppet team. They are called the straight up puppet team and i'm still with them today. I was ask to perform as a little girl named Bible Betty. So, being a daycare lady for 3yrs I knew what kids liked and how they reacted to drifferent things that come into their lives. I made her character the age of six, with a lisp, and loved gummy bears. She has a dog named St. Bernard. Her father is a pastor and mother is a daycare lady. She always runs into problems but family to school (from a child's view) I also have a 11 yr old son so I ask him about ideas. I have learned from 20yrs of puppetry that if you give the puppet an idenity, history, family, likes, dislikes, believes. you give the puppet a life and the children believe they are real too. I also have builded a 5ft by 2ft whale named snoozer, and 3 gift puppets who argue who is the greatest gift on christmas. It has be a real blessing to go to jails durning visiting day and perform for the children of a women's prison. We performed at an old church for the homeless and for the low income families that can't afford gifts for their children, and for senior homes. It give them an excuse to invite their families to see them and the puppet show. They really love the drifferent charaters and the songs. I hope you all realize what a wonderful way to share your talent and love with these children and there parents.

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