Friday, September 14, 2012

Dragon*Con 2012 - The Late Night Puppet Slam

It is finally time. I have been anticipating and dreading this moment. Anticipating because the Puppet Slam is second only to wrestling for the level of Dragon*Con excitement it generates in me. Dreading because I want to be sure and do it justice.

            Evil had texted me to say they were holding a seat, so I wandered into the room looking for Little Pond’s head. One huge benefit of being friends with a ginger – they make great visual landmarks. While I was looking for the Hooligans I came across Sacha from Dr. Geek’s Laboratory. He kindly offered a seat, but just as I was about to accept I spotted that fiery, red mane. Little Pond, the Grand Hoff, Evil and Lady Evil, the Big Guy, and a couple more were all lined up with an empty seat right in the middle. Nice.
I didn’t catch the GI Joe sketch from last year, but I had heard about it and the girls responsible were sitting in front of us:
After some audio testing (audio – the bane of Dragon*Con, apparently) the show began.
This year things started off a bit differently. Rather than going straight into puppets doing naughty things, we got a few video segments from the artists that would be performing.
There was a nice little song to open, followed by a segment from Magic: The Gathering – The Musical, then Lolly Lardpop’s Milano. All of that was followed by a tribute to Jerry Nelson that made me glad my masks are super absorbent.
And then it was time:

Holy. Shit.
I actually got a sneak peek at that while I was putting together my Q&A with Producer Pattycakes and it almost caused me physical pain to not tell you guys about it. I am not one of those people that can’t wait to throw spoilers around, but that intro was so rad. I wanted to tell everyone I knew. But I didn’t want to ruin it. I knew I’d be sitting there with them at the panel itself and able to watch their reactions, so I kept my mouth shut. It was awesome.
Naturally Bob and Carl: SyFy Janitors kicked off the show. I think it took a minute for them to get into things. Maybe they were still recovering from the Jerry Nelson tribute. But once they got going, it was on like a pot of Donkey Kong. The banter was good, and it was funny. Nobody lays down silly like the Janitors. I wish I could remember all the references made that Sunday night, but the one that sticks out the most is Phantasy Star on the Dreamcast. No – seriously.

After some nonsense our little, yellow buddies introduced the first performance:
Superman’s A Dick
Just from the title I’m pretty sure you can imagine how this went down. The picture should really seal the deal. It featured Superman pointing out to the rest of the Justice League exactly how little he needed any of them. Imagine that one sketch from The State, except everybody’s Aquaman. I laughed a lot.
Puppeteers – Mark Meer, Lucky Yates, Reay Kaplan
Writer – Ian Boothby of Bongo comics
Bob and Carl: Sci Fi Janitors returned to once again kick out the funny. I wish I could remember all of their banter, but it’s been almost two weeks now and I was halfway drunk. Not all the way drunk because I didn’t want to have to get up and pee like I did last year and miss the show. That’s how good Puppet Slam is - I stopped drinking for an hour.
Lady Poopington’s Tea Party
I don’t think I was the right audience for this one, but I think kids might have loved it. The puppeteering (is that really not a word? Spellcheck says no) was solid and the look of it was neat. I’m not sure if the Teddy Ruxpin in the background was supposed to be the creepiest fucking thing ever, but it was:
By April Tennyson with Jackie Elaine Bell
Bob and Carl: SciFi Janitors came back out for some more mirth. I think this was the segment where one of them mentioned Phantasy Star. Actually I really have no idea. But it is the segment where Bob got super tall and gave up on holding his broom.
I’ll Hold Your Hand In Mine
This was my favorite puppet of the night that wasn’t a Time Lord. It sang a song… well, once again – the picture pretty much sells it. I am finding that I suck at recapping Puppet Slams.
The song was sweet and horrible. It was kind of like They Might Be Giants in that you’d think it was really sweet and gentle if you weren’t listening to the words. And if a hideous, undead puppet weren’t singing it at you. This one was definitely a success.
By Lucky Yates

Robert and Karl: Space Custodians popped back up afterwards to do their thing some more. Their thing – if you don’t know – is to make you laugh until you’re a little worried about moistening your trousers. Here, I’ll tell you what – since I can’t remember their material, I’ll give you a bit:

Now I feel slightly better.
A Lord of Time
This one was nothing short of astonishing. It started off with Doctor Eleven singing to the tune of Billy Joel’s… uh… dammit. It was a Billy Joel song. I haven’t paid any attention to Billy Joel in forever, so his repertoire is not at the forefront of my brain. I think it was “Uptown Girl”.
Side Note: It's "The Longest Time"
So Doctor Eleven sang for a bit, then over the course of the song was joined on stage by every single Doctor. Eleven puppet Doctors. Think about that. Oh, wait – you don’t have to because HERE:

It was fantastic.
 And on top of that, when I contacted Carl and Producer Pattycakes the other day to get the full list of credits for the Puppet Slam I found out that the entire Puppet Slam audience got Peter Rolled! That’s right – the whole song was performed LIVE by none other than Peter David from behind the black curtain. And we didn’t even know it! Is there anything that man cannot do?
By Kathleen O’Shea David
With Rachel Wyman, John Hudgens, Jamie Kamin, Cheralyn Lambeth, and Hannah Miller
Vocals by Peter David (!)

I am assuming boB and Lrac: Hooperball Fans returned in between that last segment and the next, but I guess I felt I only needed so many pictures of a couple of yellow janitor puppets. Here’s another bit:

You’re welcome.
Anyone Can Slap Cards on the Table” from Magic: The Gathering – The Musical
The skill that went into this performance was undeniable. The puppets looked fantastic, the choreography was extremely impressive, and the song was very well done. That being said, I know jack and shit about Magic. I did not get it. I tried to get it, but it just didn’t do it for me. But if you happen to be a fan of Magic: The Gathering I highly recommend you check out Magic:The Gathering – The Musical as these folks seemed to know what they were doing and did get a positive response from the portion of the crowd that I’m assuming were big Magic fans. I wish Varis had been there to tell me if this was good or not.
By Molly Coffee
With Raymond Carr, Amy rush, David Stephens, and Gregg van Laningham

This one was breathtaking. The coordination of the three ladies working the puppet combined with the beautiful voice of the lady singing was amazing. I couldn’t take my eyes off of what was going on.This is called "Tabletop Puppetry".
The puppet herself was one of the best-crafted characters in the Puppet Slam, combining a number of different materials with a neat costume and a spiky, little mace.

 (This clip is not from Puppet Slam, but it is the same performance)
By Alissa Hunnicut
With Honey Goodenough and Amy Rush

Bob and Carl did some more things that I do not remember. But it is very important to note that they introduced the next bit. Because the next bit was about them – kind of.
Adventuros Limpiezas
So these two puppeteers – you can tell because they’re wearing all black. If somebody is in all black they’re either a beatnik, a Goth, a puppeteer or Johnny Cash. Well, probably not so much Johnny Cash.
Anyway, these two puppeteers popped up from behind a table and unrolled a mat full of trash. The male downed a can of energy drink or malt liquor or something and threw it down on the table, kind of like a challenge. Fine, sir – let’s do this.
Then they duck behind the table.
Seconds later a duo emerged that were horrifying, mutated versions of our beloved heroes Bob and Carl. These monstrosities were horrible perversions of the forms we know so well. Rather than being vaguely hand-shaped, this pair’s heads were clearly… head-shaped. Children cried.
The two went on to do what Bob and Carl do… sort of. But with vaguely Mexican accents. And then at some point I realized that Carlos (I guess – Roberto and Carlos?) did not have the standard mask on. There was some kind of thing hanging off of it. As a matter of fact, it looked an awful lot like a facehugger. Sure enough, Roberto knocked it off and Carlos went into a seizure, falling behind the table. When he reemerged his chest exploded and this popped out:
The best part was at the end when its “jaws” popped out and started cleaning.
By Valerie Meiss
With Madison J. Cripps

A continuación arriba fueron Bob y Carl con algunas payasadas más delirante. Me encanta ver a estos chicos viven. Es decir, los bits de vídeo son un montón de diversión, pero asistiendo los dos sólo una especie de riffs fuera de sí realmente es algo.


Cookie Panel
I have to say I felt very fortunate to be aware of the whole Milano video previous to witnessing Cookie Panel. But I sure do wish there hadn’t been so many audio problems. While Leslie Cararra-Rudolph came across perfectly fine, I couldn’t make out most of what Lolly Lardpop was saying. Though I’m fairly certain most of it had to do with murdering and eating the citizens of Milano cookie town or whatever.
The gag here was that Cookie Panel was sort of a typical con panel, but with cookies. And then Lolly Lardpop ate the cookies. It was pretty great.
I spoke to Ms. (Mrs.? Missus? Lady?) Cararra-Rudolph the following day and she was very concerned about whether or not the audience had been able to hear the cookies because they were very talented puppeteers (and they were – you try making a talking cookie look convincing). They came across just fine. Also, I highly recommend you go and check out (website) because Leslie Cararra-Rudolph is a very sweet and fascinating lady. I’m hoping she and several other Puppetry Track guests will be able (and willing ) to come back next year.

By Leslie Cararra-Rudolph and Lolly Lardpop
With David Stephens, Reay Kaplan, Amy Rush, and Ryan Dillon

Bob and Carl can kill anyone they want!  Bob and Carl cut off heads ALL the time and don't even think twice about it.  These guys are so crazy and awesome that they flip out ALL the time.  I heard that Bob and Carl were eating at a diner.  And when some dude dropped a broom Bob and Carl killed the whole town.  My friend Mark said that he saw Bob and Carl totally uppercut some kid just because the kid opened a window.
And that's what I call REAL Ultimate Power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you don't believe that Bob and Carl have REAL Ultimate Power you better get a life right now or they will chop your head off!!!  It's an easy choice, if you ask me.
Bob and Carl are sooooooooooo sweet that I want to crap my pants.  I can't believe it sometimes, but I feel it inside my heart.  These guys are totally awesome and that's a fact.  Bob and Carl are fast, smooth, cool, strong, powerful, and sweet.  I can't wait to start yoga next year.  I love Bob and Carl with all of my body (including my pee pee).

(the serious/dubious look on Nate's face here is priceless)
The Gauntlet
There was a disclaimer before this one to ensure nobody got sued. The performers basically stated that it was a work of parody and that nobody – particularly certain celebrities – should be upset by the goings-on.
I would like to make my own disclaimer stating that I am merely relating what happened during this bit. I would also like to make it very clear that I am a huge fan of Felicia Day and her works and did not approve of this bit or laugh until tears were streaming out from under my mask. Not once.
This is what happened during “The Gauntlet”:
A young nerd gets one of those stand-ups of Felicia Day.
It comes alive.
The young nerd wants to have sex with the Felicia Day stand-up.
Side Note: It is important to point out that this stand-up is not actually Felicia Day, nor is it meant to be. As I looked on in horror, not laughing even once, I pretended it was some kind of demon that had possessed the cardboard stand-up.
The Felicia Day stand-up says that that would be great, but only if
Side Note: Again – I must stress that this is not actually Felicia Day.
She can shit in his mouth.
The young nerd is not thrilled by this idea, but the Felicia Day stand-up is way into it. And very convincing.
Finally, the Felicia Day stand-up convinces the young nerd to let her do the deed (shit in his mouth).
Side Note: I feel that alcohol might have played an important role in this scenario. I am married, so no Felicia Day mouth-shitting for me anyway – stand-up or otherwise. But I think we all have to admit the conversation would be different depending upon the amount and type of alcohol in one’s system. I feel that everybody has at least one famous person that if they were drunk enough they would allow to shit in their mouth in order to have sex with them. They might not admit it, but it’s there. And the people that are all like, “Oh, no! I would never ever let anybody shit in my mouth at all ever!” are the ones that wouldn’t even need to be drunk.
So then Felicia Day shits in the young nerd’s mouth.
And then it’s sex time, so an enormous, black cock pops out of Felicia Day’s nether regions and the young nerd screams and that’s the end.
Appalling. You people make me sick.
(from the Muppet Wiki)
By Raymond Carr
With Nate Devoll
And Nate Devoll’s Ass

At this point Bob and Carl had just about given up. Carl was still horrified by the whole Xenomorph scenario and both of them were terrified at the idea of possible Felicia Day backlash.
Side Note: I would like to once again reiterate that that was a demon-possessed stand-up that quite frankly barely even looked like Felicia Day. I think it may well have been Alexandra Breckenridge. Who I would certainly never let shit in my mouth.
Please and Queues
This one was just sweet. I loved the robot in it, not only for the form but for the voice as well. The female actor was great, coming off as what you might term the “typical girlfriend” but never being truly off-putting. I liked this a whole lot.
Here’s the deal – a robot and his girlfriend are in line at a panel. It turns out they have different agendas. It also turns out that the robot has spent a lot of money on dumb shit (something I can relate to). They have a very real but also very cute fight. Their different interests come up, but of course their love of their different interests are what keep them together.
This sketch was Dragon*Con. We all like different stuff. We might actively dislike stuff others love. But we love the fact that others love that stuff. We love their love, even if we don’t love their stuff, know what I mean?
It wasn’t at the time, but this is now my favorite performance of the night. It was so well-acted and the message is so fantastic and important. I want a shirt with this bit on it.

By Dr. Gregg van Laningham and Qate Bean
With the Puppet Slam Players (basically everybody else)

Huge thanks to Carl and Producer Pattycakes for hooking me up with the credits for this year’s Puppet Slam. I didn’t think to have them last year and I felt terrible that I didn’t credit all of those talented folks.
Massive thanks to Beau Brown for all of this.
This was a memorable and excellent cap to Dragon*Con. Just like the last bit, Puppet Slam itself is a metaphor for what Dragon*Con is – many differing interests and passions expressed in similar ways that all of fandom can understand. Now that Puppetry has been made a part of Dragon*Con, I don’t quite understand how we ever went without it.
There is quite literally no more universal medium. Not everybody can draw or make a cartoon. Not everybody can sing a song or write music. But anybody can do this:

Everybody has. Granted, there is a whole range of skill levels, but Puppetry is a universal language that can communicate and entertain without words and I hope that a lot of con-goers managed to get even more out of the Puppetry Track than I did this year.
Mark it on your schedule for next year. I guarantee you’ll be entertained and educated.
And I promise nobody will shit in your mouth. Unless you want them to.

Bob and Carl played by Matt Nitchie and Beau Brown

No Janitors were harmed in the making of this Puppet Slam.



  1. FYI, the bad fairy puppet from "Uninvited" was created by David Michael Friend! To see more of what he does, check out "Moonfishing," it's in Volume V of Heather Henson's Handmade Puppet Dreams film series. Here's a trailer:

    1. Awesome! Thanks for the link. And great job this year - can't wait to see what's in store for 2013!