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Now ye're talking - to a puppeteer

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  • 12-09-2019 3:33pm
    #1
    Boards.ie Employee Posts: 12,597 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Boards.ie Community Manager


    Our next guest is a puppeteer, Ray 'Wingnut' Cuddihy. He has worked for the Irish national broadcaster RTÉ Television, national Irish language station TG4, and other independent productions over the past number of years.

    Ray began performing puppets when writing sketches and skits with some pals after moving to Galway in 2009. He studied 'Drámaíocht Gaeilge' part-time at NUIG. Soon he got picked up by theatre company Fíbín with whom he toured and performed shows as Gaeilge throughout the country and at festivals. With Fíbín, Ray trained in 'Henson-style' television puppetry for the TG4 show 'Saol Faoi Shráid'.

    Ray also works as a cartoon voice-over artist. Next week he is travelling to Cartoon Forum in Toulouse, France with Kavaleer productions to pitch and present their latest creation 'Snake News' to international broadcasters such as Nickleodeon, Disney, Apple and Netflix.

    When he is not under a puppet Ray produces and presents multi-award winning alternative music radio show Spin ALT on Spin South West radio.

    Ray is heavily influenced by the television and radio that he experienced growing up in Ireland. Zig and Zag and Dustin and Zuppy on 'The Den' made sure that every afternoon after school was always such a laugh and full of musical divilment.

    Here's a showreel to see a bit of his work: https://vimeo.com/157711111


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Comments

  • Boards.ie Employee Posts: 12,597 ✭✭✭✭✭Boards.ie: Niamh
    Boards.ie Community Manager


    Ray will be online from tomorrow morning (Friday) for a short time only so please post your questions asap and he will get to as many as he can tomorrow morning before he has to jet off. Thanks :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 208 ✭✭brainfreeze


    In this interview you state you are not the RTE Secret Producer, but also that Bosco raised hell about changes in the kids department at RTE, could Bosco be the RTE Secret Producer?

    What's your favorite Jim Henson movie?

    What are your favorite Irish Hip Hop acts that you've played on the radio? What is the name of the hip hop song in your show reel?

    What are your thoughts on the Bernard Shaw closing?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,499 ✭✭✭Sabre0001


    Hi Ray, thanks for doing this AMA! Quite the career you've had.

    What got you interested in puppeteering in the first place?

    What is the training process like (particularly in 'Henson-style')?

    Most would have usually imagined puppets being aimed at children's entertainment. What do you think of the likes of Team America and The Happytime Murders flipping this completely on its head? And are they allowed get away with more (or can they just do more) because they're using puppets?

    🤪



  • Registered Users Posts: 1 ODULAINM


    1) What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen while performing with puppets?

    2) Are there any famous puppeteers that we should be aware of (but probably aren't)?

    3) Why do you think people (kids especially) are/can be mesmerised by puppets?


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,473 ✭✭✭Roddy23


    Why are you called "Wingnut"?

    When did you know you were going to be a puppeteer?

    What heroes of the industry have you worked with?

    Who's the biggest jerk you've worked with?

    If you were the head of the RTÉ children’s department what would you change?


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 40,061 ✭✭✭✭Harry Palmr


    Do you forget to stop your hand/s acting sometimes once the shot is done?


  • Registered Users Posts: 858 ✭✭✭thejuggler


    Interesting topic. Does your back and arms get sore from keeping out of sight / lying on floor during performances? Do you use a headset and monitor to see your performance from the audiences point of view?


  • Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Regional East Moderators, Regional North West Moderators Posts: 12,207 Mod ✭✭✭✭miamee


    Is there much space given to a puppeteer when working or do you end up in some really cramped spaces?

    Who is your puppeteer hero and who is your favourite puppet of all time?

    Would you like to work on a show like Avenue Q or have you ever done something similar aimed at an adult audience?

    Thanks!


  • Registered Users Posts: 858 ✭✭✭thejuggler


    Do you know or work with Ciaran Morrison, Mick O'Hara or John Morrison, creators of the best known puppet characters in Ireland?
    They keep a low public profile and don't do interviews except in character. Was wondering if they offer support or advice to fellow puppeteers? It's a small industry I'm sure.

    And on an international level what do you think of the Muppets and Sesame Street particularly the recasts in recent years? Kermit the frog sounds very different to how he used to. I think he's on puppeteer number 3 at this stage.


  • Registered Users Posts: 15,182 ✭✭✭✭ILoveYourVibes


    OH MY GOD THIS IS THE GREATEST AMA EVER!


    Do you find yourself developing serious relationships with your puppets? Don't lie to me.

    Do you make your own puppets??

    Do you put people around you into their character?

    Do you actually know Bosco and will you tell him I love him? Thank you.

    Do you have an interest in other visual arts? I imagine a lot of puppeteers go to NCAD.

    Do you like Brian Froud he did Dark Crystal. But he is also an amazing illustrator.


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,168 ✭✭✭Ursus Horribilis


    Are you surprised that puppetry is still popular?


  • Posts: 8,856 ✭✭✭ [Deleted User]


    Hi Ray,

    One question on your cartoonist aspect:

    How the hell do cartoonists come up with the clever stuff -like the political cartoons? I mean sometimes, it just blows me away how your minds work- so question really is, how the hell does your mind work?

    On your puppetry artistic ability:

    What's the future for puppetry- a real "art" but one probably unappreciated in recent times, and now battling against online and animation, both with adults as well as children?


  • Registered Users Posts: 7,499 ✭✭✭Sabre0001


    What's your favourite puppet related joke?

    Here's one:

    What's this?

    490472.png
    Bosco, naked!

    🤪



  • Registered Users Posts: 8,467 ✭✭✭Gloomtastic!


    Used to be a puppeteer so I understand giving the puppets some soul.

    I remember seeing Bosco live one day and shouting louder than all the kids, I was so excited. What a performer. :D

    What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    In you state you are not the RTE Secret Producer, but also that Bosco raised hell about changes in the kids department at RTE, could Bosco be the RTE Secret Producer?

    What's your favorite Jim Henson movie?

    What are your favorite Irish Hip Hop acts that you've played on the radio? What is the name of the hip hop song in your show reel?

    What are your thoughts on the Bernard Shaw closing?

    Hi Brainfreeze, GREAT QUESTIONS!! This is Ray here....

    Yah Bosco absolutely fought fluff and wool when RTÉ announced that it was outsourcing all content. Bosco was amazing and used Bosco's considerable platform (a box) to highlight the cause. Bosco's passion is amazing. I do not think Bosco was the RTÉ Secret Producer though, because Bosco would just be honest about RTÉ always, and wouldn't need an alias. And everyone knows that Bosco always tells the truth.

    My favourite Jim Henson movie is Muppets Christmas Carol. To my shame I haven't seen them all, I'd love to revisit Muppets Take Manhattan and Treasure Island.

    My fave Irish HipHop acts right now are two rappers from Limerick, one is Hazey and the other is Citrus Fresh. Oh and I LOVE Aswell, another Limerick lad. The tune from the showreel that I did the video for is 'Lazy Bones' by Dublin rapper Collie. *Outs to Jonner!!*

    Yah its a shame about the Bernard Shaw. I used to run a DJ night in there called Misha Freshin and we used to have sooooooooooo much fun. It was a cool ol spot.... except for the time when the substitute bar manager asked us to stop playing trad ….


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    Sabre0001 wrote: »
    Hi Ray, thanks for doing this AMA! Quite the career you've had.

    What got you interested in puppeteering in the first place?

    What is the training process like (particularly in 'Henson-style')?

    Most would have usually imagined puppets being aimed at children's entertainment. What do you think of the likes of Team America and The Happytime Murders flipping this completely on its head? And are they allowed get away with more (or can they just do more) because they're using puppets?

    Hi, thanks so much for your questions!!

    I did not realise that I was so into puppets until I started messing with them in a theatre in Galway. It was very spontaneous and I guess I owe a lot to the other people that were in the room that day. I was studying drama part-time to improve my Irish. As soon as we started messing with the puppets I found it profoundly more interesting than acting.


    The 'Henson-style' training means training directly for TV. So it really means spending time studying what Henson did and his company still does. You train for what it will be like on set so you use cameras television monitors to perform on your own, with one or two others or with large groups. It's not really complicated at all and it's great fun. Keep an eye out for workshops or if there aren't any, get on to a puppetry festival to run one.

    Oh I think puppets are for all ages, not just for kids. Even The Muppet movies are just as much for grown-ups, I feel. I couldn't bring myself to watch Happytime Murders just because of the deplorable reviews. Team America was hilarious!! By all means if it's funny, it's funny. It's a completely creative medium. The first sketches that I wrote were NOT for kids!

    Yes, everyone always says that puppets 'get away with more' … yah I suppose they do!! And I LOVE subversion ...

    Thanks again,

    Ray


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    ODULAINM wrote: »
    1) What's the weirdest thing you've ever seen while performing with puppets?

    2) Are there any famous puppeteers that we should be aware of (but probably aren't)?

    3) Why do you think people (kids especially) are/can be mesmerised by puppets?


    Hi, thank you!

    1. Hmmm, ah in puppetry weirdness becomes the norm after a while. You really have to think creatively and fast and be prepared to put yourself into ANY situation. I guess one of the maddest things that I did was a scene where a puppet was driving an out-of-control golf buggy. The only way I could do it was to lie down flat, get the puppet up, rod-hands on the wheel, and then I floored the accelerator with my arse. It was on a golf course so we had plenty of space. Don't try this at home!!

    2. Oh good question, my favourite thing that I've seen in years is this >> https://vimeo.com/channels/tweenbox/201004250

    3. Oh excellent question. The answer I'll give is something that a beautiful old romantic musician from North Clare said to me. He said that...

    ' … children believe that the puppet is real because they want it to be real. They want the world to be a beautiful place. Most grown-ups have forgotten what that's like ...'


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    Roddy23 wrote: »
    Why are you called "Wingnut"?

    When did you know you were going to be a puppeteer?

    What heroes of the industry have you worked with?

    Who's the biggest jerk you've worked with?

    If you were the head of the RTÉ children’s department what would you change?

    Howaya! Thanks for your questions!

    I'm called Wingnut because I used to run a record label called Wingnut Records. I love words with two syllables like that … wingnut … hubcap … skidmark …

    I guess I knew that I was going to be a puppeteer when I decided to quit my day job (I worked in community radio) to head off touring and performing for four months.


    I'm thrilled to have worked briefly with my mega-heroes Zig and Zag and Bosco. They did not disappoint. Amazing creatures. But of course ALL of my beautiful colleagues are my heroes!

    Ah no, puppeteers really do not tend to be jerks.

    If I was head of RTÉ Children's Department, I'd fight hard to restore the integrity and presence of Children's broadcasting within the organization and in the imagination of the public. There is an excellent new Head of Young People's in there now and she is fighting hard for just that. It is terrible to witness how much kids TV got maligned over a number of years. It needs to be restored as the jewel in the crown of our national broadcaster. Kids TV, for me, was the true identity and soul and energy of RTÉ.

    MAKE RTÉ FUN AGAIN!!


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    Do you forget to stop your hand/s acting sometimes once the shot is done?


    HAHA yes absolutely, it's actually one of my favourite things!!

    So, when you mess up a line, you might say '...ah f*** it anyway...'

    but because you're operating the puppet, it looks like the character says it. When other puppeteers do that I crack up ...


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    thejuggler wrote: »
    Interesting topic. Does your back and arms get sore from keeping out of sight / lying on floor during performances? Do you use a headset and monitor to see your performance from the audiences point of view?


    Hi, yes good technical stuff,

    Yep, the arms do get sore but it's amazing how the body does become tougher and stronger over the years. And yes there is loads of lying on the floor, on the ground, under chairs, inside bins, etc etc

    And yes I use a monitor. In TV puppetry it is hugely collaborative between the puppeteer and the camera person. That's one of my favourite aspects of the job. For sound it's a clip on mic on a baseball cap.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    miamee wrote: »
    Is there much space given to a puppeteer when working or do you end up in some really cramped spaces?

    Who is your puppeteer hero and who is your favourite puppet of all time?

    Would you like to work on a show like Avenue Q or have you ever done something similar aimed at an adult audience?

    Thanks!

    It depends really. Some showsare designed with a puppeteer in mind and these will hame ample space and the set designer will work with you, etc. Other shoots can be chaotic and you just roll with the punches. I love both kinds though, I love the creativity of finding a space or a shot.

    My hero is … oh I have a few... I adore Phil Fletcher who does Hacker T Dog on BBC. He is hysterical.
    Zag is a major hero of mine, as is Zig because of their humour and personality, but particularly because of their music.
    I love Phil McNeal who performed The Bear in the Big Blue House, that stuff is sheer mastery. I'd love to do more walkabout puppets like that.

    Yah those big musical shows look like great fun!! We have upped the age range some shows for younger audiences when performing them at Electric Picnic and they're ridiculous fun.


    Thanks so much for your Qs!!


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    thejuggler wrote: »
    Do you know or work with Ciaran Morrison, Mick O'Hara or John Morrison, creators of the best known puppet characters in Ireland?
    They keep a low public profile and don't do interviews except in character. Was wondering if they offer support or advice to fellow puppeteers? It's a small industry I'm sure.

    And on an international level what do you think of the Muppets and Sesame Street particularly the recasts in recent years? Kermit the frog sounds very different to how he used to. I think he's on puppeteer number 3 at this stage.

    Hi, yes the lads are utmost gentlemen AND straight up the baddest gangstaz EVER in Irish broadcasting. They are such heroes of mine. When I started puppeteering, they were very kind and supportive. They way they keep their profile is unreal.
    For them to achieve what they did with RTÉ, and then with Channel 4, MTV and way beyond is incredible. They didn't just gain popularity, they made some of the funniest, subversive, musical, richest comedy that you've ever seen. Their characters are ICONIC. Artistically they are GIANTS. As lads they are SOUND.


    Yah it was sad to see the whole Muppet/Henson Company/Steve Whitmire fall out. But I guess for Henson Company it must be hard to maintain that hippy, lovely vibe when there is just so much money involved now, and responsibility to different stakeholders. It is sad though, because everyone buys into that romantic Jim Henson vision of the Muppets being a family of freaks who accept and look out for each other ...


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    OH MY GOD THIS IS THE GREATEST AMA EVER!


    Do you find yourself developing serious relationships with your puppets? Don't lie to me.

    Do you make your own puppets??

    Do you put people around you into their character?

    Do you actually know Bosco and will you tell him I love him? Thank you.

    Do you have an interest in other visual arts? I imagine a lot of puppeteers go to NCAD.

    Do you like Brian Froud he did Dark Crystal. But he is also an amazing illustrator.

    Hey!!! Thank you!!

    Yah I guess the relationship with your own characters is pretty amazing. I do admit that sometimes when everyone else is busy, you might stare into the puppet's eyes, and they stare into yours … and you might think … 'I know so much about you ...' and then the puppet says '... and I know so much about YOU!!' and then you just carry on …

    No I do not really make puppets, I wish I could though. No I don't even sew, which is pathetic. I'm over-reliant on actual creative people like my homeboy Julian Hills, for example …

    Definitely base all characters on people or animals that I know. It's probably the funniest part of the job. A personal tick that a human has can be magnified in a puppet. Great craic.

    Everyone loves Bosco. Bosco is the boss.

    In my experience yes, lots of set designers and model makers go to NCAD. I've only visited there but it seems like a great place. I think the creators of Zig and Zag (Mick and Ciaran) went there …

    Oh amazing. Yah at the moment I am working with a puppet maker in Dublin named Julian Hills and he does loads of graphic novel sketching and artwork too. Check him out >> http://julianhills.com/


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    Are you surprised that puppetry is still popular?

    haha, no, its been around for centuries.

    It's like saying is art or drama or music still popular.


    If you're talking about on TV, then I think people or kids crave to see or feel something that exists and is not digital


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    Hi Ray,

    One question on your cartoonist aspect:

    How the hell do cartoonists come up with the clever stuff -like the political cartoons? I mean sometimes, it just blows me away how your minds work- so question really is, how the hell does your mind work?

    On your puppetry artistic ability:

    What's the future for puppetry- a real "art" but one probably unappreciated in recent times, and now battling against online and animation, both with adults as well as children?

    Hmmm, I've no idea how ideas come. I'd say it works differently for different people. I find that I've ideas when I'm walking or chatting with others, something to distract me from directly addressing a problem or challenge.

    My mind works like Homer Simpson's … with a monkey banging cymbals

    I think puppets are surviving well despite all of the digital onslaught. I don't really see them as competing, to be honest. They can both exist and they both have their own pros and cons.

    Thanks a million!


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    Sabre0001 wrote: »
    What's your favourite puppet related joke?

    Here's one:

    What's this?

    490472.png
    Bosco, naked!


    A foot?


  • Administrators, Computer Games Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 32,264 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Mickeroo


    Would you consider yourself a manly muppet or more a muppet of a man?


  • Administrators, Entertainment Moderators, Social & Fun Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 18,724 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭hullaballoo


    Have you ever worked with Lambert's? What was it like?


  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    Used to be a puppeteer so I understand giving the puppets some soul.

    I remember seeing Bosco live one day and shouting louder than all the kids, I was so excited. What a performer. :D

    What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?

    I was watching this fella from Chile called Murdock the Lizard.

    No hablas Espanyol, so I haven't a clue what he is saying but I LOVE the physicality and the character! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29-UQRnpcnQ


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  • Registered Users Posts: 20 WingnutRecords


    Mickeroo wrote: »
    Would you consider yourself a manly muppet or more a muppet of a man?


    I'M A MUPPEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE........

    Love that song!!


This discussion has been closed.
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