I wanted to do something with this space right here, so I’m going to take my friend David Gallaher’s advice and post a little bit about me and my influences. The man behind the dots.

If it’s a well liked feature, it will stay. If not, off it goes into the dev/null.

I figured since the question was specifically about my comedic influences, I’d over a couple of the major ones over the course of the next few weeks. Seems always best to start these things at the beginning with my youngest influence. Jim Henson.

When I was a youngin, I would go to the library at my elementary school with the amazing Miss Friedman. She gave music to Shel Silverstein poems and read us Riki Tiki Tembo and even made up a few ditties about the dewey decimal system. Miss Friedman was like our very own in house Schoolhouse Rock. One day, during library time, she showed me a book called ‘The Muppet Show’. Now, I was a worldly 9 year old, of COURSE I knew who Kermit and Fozzie and Gonzo were. They were the special guests on Sesame Street! Second fiddle to none other than Big Bird, Burt, Ernie, the Count, Grover, and endless others. (Elmo never had to deal with a customer because there was a fly in his soup.. DID HE?) Not to mention reruns of The Muppet Show were playing on Nick At Nite and I never missed an episode! I took the book out and read it cover to cover that night. (I was a reader, admittedly)

The book was taken out at least another dozen times by the time I left Van Holten Elementary. It was amazing. It was part comic book, part novel, all of it was just drawn out scripts of various Muppet Show skits. The Day The Furniture Attacked. Vincent Price’s Cooking Show. Pigs In Space. All of them hand drawn and retooled to fit into this big book. My love of the muppets was really born in that very book. (Though I’ve been told that I would glue myself to Sesame Street as a child, and it was the reason I read at such a young age.)

As I grew older, I kept finding myself enjoying Henson’s work, whether or not I KNEW it was Henson’s. If you watch Dark Crystal and Labrynth back to back, the artistic fingerprint is obvious, but to a kid in the 80s… maybe not as much.

There was something about the muppets not having humans with them like most puppet/ventriloquist acts. Kermit and the gang didn’t need a guest star nearby to make me laugh. Who cares that they were rarely seen with legs. They were real characters who existed in this horrible back studio lot, trying to put on this crappy entertainment show week after week.

As I got older and I absorbed as much muppet as I could, I came home one day from middle school to find out that Jim Henson had died. It tore me up inside. It wasn’t until years after he passed that I realized how much the muppets had been an influence on my life, my sense of humor (cute with a constant wink to the audience), my love of REAL special effects (as opposed to CGI), and the art of Henson himself.

I’m not sure how much IHL is influenced by the Muppets. Maybe it’s the ease of the simplistic. Maybe it’s because of The Muppet Show that I constantly need to recognize my audience is there. I have no idea, but I do know that Henson and a cast of hundreds of fuzzy monsters and animals alike shaped me through my addicted to video games & tv period of my life. (Which still goes on to this day…)

‘Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers, and me…’