I had showered from my 3.25 mile run this Saturday and came in to find Bryan and Tony watching some cartoon on Netflix I had never heard of. (T.U.F.F. PUPPY or something?) The voice of Miss Kitty was driving me crazy and finally I got up to get my phone so I could look up IMDB.
And it was Grey DeLisle. “It’s GREY DELISLE,” I said, exasperated. “Because OF COURSE it is.”
Bryan looked at me and smiled, the way he does when he doesn’t know what in the hell I’m talking about, but he’s not really looking for a deeper discussion. HA HA, SUCKER, I’M GONNA TALK ABOUT IT ANYWAY.
Grey DeLisle is a hero of mine. If you’ve watched a major cartoon or video game in the last, oh, ten years or so, you’ve probably heard her voice one or two characters.
Dude, THAT is a calling I missed out on. I do a lot of local voice-over work (and had a few regional gigs when I was still in radio), but it’s always commercial voice work. Commercial is good because, you know, MONEY and all, but I want some artistic work. I want to do voices. Reading books to Tony at night is my FAVORITE because I do different voices for all the characters. (You should hear my Mo Willem’s Pigeon. IT’S AMAZING.) And my favorite thing about Grey is that she voices every kind of person. Kids, boys, girls, women, old, young, whatever. She does it all. SHE IS A HERO OF MINE.
Bryan knew that another hero of mine is Jim Henson. I’ve mentioned it MANY times here, about how puppetry has been a longtime fascination with me. There are few things that actively and unequivocally hold my attention, but you can keep me enraptured for FOREVER with puppets.
(Even Jeff Dunham, as long as we’re talking puppetry. I don’t find his comedy so spectacular, but his use of ventriloquism is AMAZING.)
We spontaneously planned a trip to Atlanta this past weekend (to be honest, it was merely to visit Ikea) and Bryan secretly bought tickets for us all to go to Atlanta’s Center for Puppetry Arts. We took Tony to a show for young audiences, a puppetry adaptation of Aesop’s Fables that Tony LOOOOOVED. But Bryan did even better.
He bought me a personal tour of the Jim Henson exhibit.
If I had to name three huge influences in my life, Jim Henson would probably be the top spot. And this exhibit was MIND BLOWING for me. I can’t tell you how many times I cried. (Four.)
Jim Henson purposefully creates puppets that aren’t people. They are simplistic, in most cases, with a capacity of showing human emotion, but he never makes flesh-colored puppets. Because he believes that we are too large a crayon box to do so.
And as I concluded the tour because Tony was getting antsy (it was about the point we hit Sir Didymus, so I’ve clearly got a bit of education to do with my child)(more on that later), I mentioned how amazed I was by this exhibit, how influenced I was by Jim, and how The Dark Crystal is still one of my top two favorite movies. The tour guide said, “Oh, well you saw our Skeksis then?”
AND I SQUEEEEEEEED ALL THE WAY THERE.
“Is it Lord Chamberlin? Or ..”
“Well,” she said. “It’s the general. He commanded the..”
“OH MY GOD, IT’S GENERAL OF THE GARTHEMS. AND HIS SWORD FOR THE TRIAL BY STONE. OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD, LOOK HOW HIS ARMOR REFLECTS THE GARTHEM’S EXOSKELETONS AND..” at this point, the tour guide backed away.
And this, in a nutshell, is what I loved about Henson. He knew nothing about puppetry when he built Kermit out of his mother’s teal felt dinner jacket. He just knew he wanted to be on tv. And he allowed that same creative freedom – “just try something. just try it.” – to everyone who worked in Henson Studios. There were no boundaries, only challenges to be overcome. And one of my favorite principles of working with people is to tell people what end product you want, but let them find the path there. HENSON MADE ME THINK THAT.
Oh, guys. I know those of you following along on Instagram were as geeked out as I were, and I DIDN’T EVEN LOAD THE FRAGGLE PICTURES.
(P.S. My husband is THE BEST EVER.)
* On educating my child: