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Puppet Up: Henson has new late night special

One-hour puppet improv special from The Jim Henson Company to air November 20 on TBS

Courtesy of TBS
October 31, 2006

Improvisational comedy gets a fresh twist this November when TBS presents The Jim Henson Companys PUPPET UP! Uncensored, a one-hour special to be taped before a live audience at The Comedy Festival in Las Vegas. The special, in which puppeteers construct improvised scenes from the audiences suggestions, will tape Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. and 10:30 p.m., then premiere on TBS Monday, Nov. 20, at 11 p.m. (ET/PT).

The Cast of Puppet Up: Allan Trautman, Brian Henson, Paul Rugg, Julianne Buescher, Drew Massey and Victor Yerrid.

The Jim Henson Companys PUPPET UP! - Uncensored is executive-produced by Brian Henson and Lisa Henson. The special is produced by Martin Baker and co-produced by Eric Poticha. Patrick Bristow (Ellen, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery) serves as the stage shows director and host.

Even before creating comedic puppets for the early days of Saturday Night Live, The Jim Henson Company has been on the cutting edge of both comedy and puppetry, said Michael Wright, senior vice president of original programming for TBS and TNT. We are thrilled to be working with them on this very funny project, which pushes traditional comedy improv to a whole new level.

Brian Henson said, We began doing puppet improv workshops to hone our comedy skills and realized that we were having so much fun that audiences might enjoy watching too. It has been amazing to see our troupe evolve, and I am sure our Vegas shows will be our best yet.

The Jim Henson Companys PUPPET UP! - Uncensored is a demonstration of what happens when the perilous and provocative forms of traditional comedy improv are mixed with a bunch of irreverent puppets. With a motley group of characters brought to life world-renowned puppeteers, The Jim Henson Companys PUPPET UP! - Uncensored is truly innovative comedy. Premiering in March 2006, the show has played to critical acclaim and sold out crowds at both the HBO Comedy Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Performing the puppetry for the show are some of The Jim Henson Companys top puppeteers, as well as some of the countrys top comedy improvisers. The cast includes Brian Henson, Second City alum Julianne Buescher, Tyler Bunch (Sesame Street), The Groundlings Ted Michaels, Drew Massey (The Muppets Wizard of Oz), ACME Comedy Group founding member Paul Rugg, Allan Trautman (Greg the Bunny) and Victor Yerrid (Team America).

The Jim Henson Companys PUPPET UP! - Uncensored will be filmed as part of HBO and AEG LIVEs The Comedy Festival, taking place at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas Tuesday, Nov. 14 and Saturday, Nov. 18. TBS is serving as title sponsor of the five-day event, which will feature more than 50 performances, events and screenings. The mission of The Comedy Festival is to bring together the biggest stars and cutting-edge comedy talent in a broad range of programming, from star-level performances and special events to stand-up, sketch comedy and film. In addition to The Jim Henson Companys PUPPET UP! - Uncensored, The Comedy Festival will feature Comic Relief 2006, starring Robin Williams, Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg and simulcast on HBO and TBS Saturday, Nov. 18, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).

The Jim Henson Companys PUPPET UP! Uncensored marks the second TBS project from The Jim Henson Company. Earlier this year, The Jim Henson Company filmed a pilot for The Late Night Buffet with Augie and Del, an irreverent show hosted by puppets Augustus Pfiffle and Delbert Kastle who interact with live celebrity guests in a talk-show format. The Late Night Buffet pilot was produced for TBS by The Jim Henson Company, with Brian Henson (Farscape) as executive producer and puppeteer and Bill Barretta (The Muppets Wizard of Oz) as co- executive producer and puppeteer.

Brian Henson (Producer, Performer) is Co-Chief Executive Officer of The Jim Henson Company and an award-winning director, producer, writer and performer.

In recent years, Henson served as Executive Producer on the television projects It's A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, Muppets' Wizard of Oz, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (which he also directed) and Jim Henson's Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story (which he also co-wrote and directed). 

Recently, he has been leading the Creature Shop's work with its revolutionary puppeteered animation system.  He is currently in post production on an episode he directed for TNT's anthology series Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, scheduled to premiere in the summer of 2006.

Julianne Buescher, a whimsically versatile Henson performer, Second City alum and graduate of The Theatre School at DePaul, hosts E!'s Gone Bad and is a regular on Jimmy Kimmel Live (using her freakish ability to voice-match almost any actor/singer). Julianne's ear-biting In A Minute storytelling ran on KPFK LA and KPFA Berkeley.  She created and starred in the award-winning film Resculpting Venus: A Comedy about Breast Cancer.

Drew Massey is an actor, puppeteer, and voice-over guy whose film credits include Muppets Wizard of Oz, The Producers, Doctor Dolittle, Cats & Dogs, Team America, and Men In Black I and II.  Drew has also performed on TV in Greg the Bunny, Angel, Malcolm in the Middle, Muppets Tonight, Cousin Skeeter, Crank Yankers and in ads for Foster Farms, Sony and Levi's.  He also draws really well and loves animals.

Paul Rugg, a founding member of the ACME Comedy Group in Hollywood and an award winning writer for TV animation, has lent his vocal talent to such shows as Animaniacs, Pinky and The Brain, Histeria, Buzz Lightyear Of Star Command, Dave The Barbarian, Toonsylvania, American Dragon, Catscratch. Paul also wrote, produced and starred in Freakazoid as well as the "Manny The Uncanny" segments for ABC's One Saturday Morning. 

Allan Trautman began his performing career as an actor, noted for his portrayal of "Tarman" in the cult classics Return of the Living Dead: Parts One and Two. He has gone on to puppeteer in such features as Muppets From Space, Cats & Dogs, Babe and Dr. Dolittle (for which he was also performance coordinator).   His television puppeteering credits include Greg the Bunny, Unhappily Ever After, Muppets Tonight and Dinosaurs. 

Victor Yerrid is an actor and puppeteer who likes calling people "Hank" regardless of their name.  His credits include The Producers: The Movie Musical, Team America, Just Like Heaven, Men In Black II, Angel, Crank Yankers, Robot Chicken, Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars, Greg The Bunny, Sesame Street, Between The Lions and Bear in the Big Blue House.  Victor enjoys most berry-based smoothies and adores his wife Janet.

For more information, visit the official Puppet Up web site of The Jim Henson Company.

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