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by Darren Held

BFF and I saw an improv competition recently that included a team brandishing muppets. I know there’s some really bad stuff going on in the world these days, but muppet improv is an issue I feel needs to be addressed now, before the situation gets out of hand.

In case you wondered, I like muppets. I liked them on Sesame Street when I was 5, and I like their movies now. But there is a time and a place for muppets, and the time and place is not in an improv show.

For one thing, muppets don’t do spacework. And they can’t make eye contact. I’m just sayin’.

There were a couple of people walking around the stage with muppets on their arms, and some of the character traits seemed to be in the muppets, while the rest were in the humans. So each of the muppet-people was kind of like two characters in one. One of the players had no muppet. That distracted me – did he lose his muppet? Did his troupemates not trust him with a muppet?

If I’m watching a muppet show, I don’t want to see the puppeteers. When the people manipulating the muppets are in the scene, I can’t fully believe in the muppets because the people are right there. And I sure as hell can’t believe the people, because they’re just crazy bastards who conduct their conversations through inanimate fuzzy monsters.

As Lisa has pointed out, I am an improv purist (purist is a nice word for snob). And the purist in me thinks the fun of improv is making everything up out of thin air, without sets, props, costumes, makeup, scripts or muppets. I suppose you could argue that muppet improv is a matter of opinion and personal preference.

You’d be wrong, of course. But you could argue that.

By Sonnjea Blackwell

Darren Held
About Darren Held
Darren is the CEO and Creative Director of Held2gether, Improv for LIfe. He has been teaching and performing improv for 15 years, and has performed with H2g, the Groundlings, UCB and Second City. He loves Moto, red wine, and Madonna.

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