Looking for the Next Kermit


Title: Fussy Cloud Puppet Slam Volume 11

Rating: 3 Stars

Well, this was a thing that I didn’t know existed. Apparently, people in the puppet business get together now and again and try out new material. This is performed in a puppet slam.

It’s staged at Theatre Off Jackson, a tiny little playhouse in the International District (aka Chinatown, aka Japantown). The theater is advertised as:

Intimate performance space for small-production plays, music, film, readings & special events.

Yes, I’d say so. There were eight different puppet acts. They were all decidedly small scale. Some looked like their budget was probably South of $100.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect. First of all, I was thinking that maybe it’d be me and relatives of the performers, but no, I’d guess that maybe two hundred people were there. Some were obviously regulars who knew what to expect. The vibe of the audience was almost like a school play. Everyone was positive and encouraging.

Of the acts, my favorite was St James Infirmary. There was a guitarist, a saxophonists, and a bartender that was also the singer and the puppeteer (Hearts + Brains). They played the bluesy song St James Infirmary. It was well played, and as the bartender sang, she was the puppeteer for a puppet that was mournfully drunk slouched in his chair. It was a surprisingly moving performance.

For something completely different, there was Silence of the Yams, where the performer (Charlie Cook) acted out key scenes from Silence of the Lambs using, yes, you guessed it, sweet potatoes. You really haven’t lived until you heard a woman, holding a sweet potato, in a guttural voice, shout, “Put the lotion in the basket!”.

There was a Punch and Judy show. There was an improv show using what appeared to be hand puppets that might have been taken out of their children’s closet. There was a shadow puppet act, which, much to my amusement, used an old view foil projector as the mechanism to project the shadows. To this day, the building that I work in has view foil projectors in conference rooms that have not been turned on in probably close to twenty years. It warmed my heart to see an old war horse still put to good use.

It closed with a puppet burlesque. However, the puppet turned out to be shy, so the puppeteer proceeded to do the burlesque herself, while on stilts.  Because, why not?

All in all, an amusing time was had by one and all. An unexpected and fun way to spend a Friday night.



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