While celebrity puppets like Elmo, Pinocchio, Kermit, Lamb Chop, Topo Gigio, Howdy Doody, and more have captured the innocent hearts and imaginations of children for generations, the puppet is no longer a mouthpiece exclusively for young audiences. Like Hand to God, here are a few other shows starring puppets that were created for adult eyes and ears only:
Winner of the TONY “Triple Crown” for Best Musical, Best Score, and Best Book, Avenue Q is a laugh-out-loud hit Broadway musical that tells the story of a recent college grad named Princeton who moves into a shabby New York apartment all the way out on Avenue Q. There, he meets Kate (the monster next door), Rod (the Republican), Trekkie (the internet sexpert), Lucy (the slut), and other colorful types who help Princeton finally discover his purpose in life.
Henson’s Happytime Murders
Brian Henson, son of legendary puppeteer Jim Henson, directed this black comedy puppet crime film starring comedian Melissa McCarthy. The plot, set in a world where puppets and humans co-exist, follows a joint police force who must solve a recent murder spree of retired sitcom stars. Though it was a box office bust, the film marked the debut of Henson Alternative, a banner of The Jim Henson Company that specializes in adult content.
Land of Gorch
Land of Gorch was a recurring skit that appeared in season one of Saturday Night Live, featuring Jim Henson’s Muppets. After Sesame Street, Henson feared he would become typecast into working on children’s television series. His talent agent Bernie Brillstein, who represented Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, and John Belushi, helped him transition to Saturday Night Live. The premise of The Land of Gorch featured Muppet characters, who were members of a royal family, in a faraway locale. They behaved boorishly and made frequent references to drug abuse, sexual activity, and consumption of alcohol. Characters included King Ploobis, Queen Peuta, their son Wiss, and servants Scred and Vazh. These characters often consulted their oracle Mighty Favog for advice.
Yankerville, a twisted town inhabited solely by puppets, was the setting for re-creations of actual crank phone calls. Comics and celebrities — a list that includes people such as rapper Eminem and comics Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, and Drew Carey — made the calls. Among the regular pranksters are show creators Jimmy Kimmel and Adam Carolla. Characters featured on the show on a regular basis include Special Ed, Elmer, and Bobby Fletcher. The show originated on Comedy Central in 2002.
Hand to God plays in FST’s Bowne’s Lab Theatre through February 10. For more information or two purchase tickets, click here.