Puppets are sexy. They are fun. They are provocative. Some are beautiful. Others, grotesque. But most importantly, they allow audiences an opportunity to escape into a world otherwise unknown. They allow stories that may otherwise remain untold, to be shared, as puppets can do things that humans cannot. These are the facts.
— When the Puppets Come to Town, via Howlround.com
A 2007 article by Charlie Brooker published in The Guardian, illuminating why offensiveness might be one of the most powerful tools a writer (or in our case, a theatrical production) can wield:
I hate offended people and I love offending them. They’re the very worst people on the planet…No paper wants to gratuitously offend the reader. Pity, because gratuitous offence, when performed with aplomb, is the funniest thing in the world. There’s more unpretentious joie de vivre in a single issue of vintage-era Viz than most artists or singers manage in a lifetime. I’d like nothing better than to fill the rest of this page with an unnecessarily florid description of something utterly disgusting happening to a well-known public figure – an 850-word fantasy in which, say, David Miliband unexpectedly develops extreme and explosive diarrhoea while entertaining a group of foreign dignitaries in a pod on the London Eye on the hottest day of the year, to take just one example. But I can’t, because a tiny handful of you would complain.
In my view, the delight such an unnecessary and puerile description would give to myself and others far outweighs the pain it would cause these oversensitive life-spoiling idiots. The offended people.
This New York Times article examines how the neighborhood from which Avenue Q is derived has completely changed in recent years, making it almost unrecognizable for those who identify it as the run-down, bohemian icon that was spoofed in Jeff Marx’s and Robert Lopez’s musical:
NOT too long ago, the name Alphabet City evoked images of burned-out buildings, rubbish-strewn lots, squatters and drug dealers. These days, the marketers of the high-priced condominiums and luxury rentals that are sprouting everywhere in the neighborhood are more likely to refer to it as the East Village, of which it is only a part, or to sweep it into the even-broader domain of the Lower East Side.
But whatever its title, it has been clear for some time, as prices soar and crime rates tumble, that the area encompassing Avenues A, B, C and D from 14th Street to Houston Street has acquired a patina of affluence and stylishness even as it remains a bastion of middle class dwellings and subsidized housing.
”In the last year and a half, I would guess 1,000 new units of housing have been built here,” said Harvey Epstein, a Legal Aid Society lawyer and chairman of the housing committee for Community Board 3, which has jurisdiction over Alphabet City. ”When rents skyrocked throughout Manhattan a few years ago, landlords in this neighborhood realized what an opportunity they had to make a real profit, so from Avenues A to D, there is construction of new housing on every space available. There is also a lot of rehabilitation of existing housing to get more market rate tenants into buildings.”
Indeed, it is impossible to take a stroll around the avenues and their connecting blocks without encountering concrete being poured, foundations for new structures being sunk, and old town houses and tenements undergoing facelifts.
What’s more, the kind of buildings rising now would probably have been unthinkable even five years ago.
This succinct, visual explanation, courtesy of WaitButWhy.com, provides some insight into why people like Princeton and Kate Monster might be so unsatisfied with their post-college lives. Basically, “to get to the bottom of why, we need to define what makes someone happy or unhappy in the first place. It comes down to a simple formula:
A parodic response to the general complaint that millenials are “lazy,” “self-centered,” “entitled,” “money-obsessed”…
“Puppets are a bit of a Trojan Horse. They’re our way in. Once you get the audience hooked, you can tell them all kinds of truths and they’ll go along with you.” — Avenue Q Co-Creator Robert Lopez on MSNBC
For a World AIDS Day benefit in 2005, the original cast of Avenue Q and the cast of the Broadway revival of Fiddler on the Roof presented a 10-minute spoof of both musicals called “Avenue Jew.” As a brief prologue, Trekkie Monster plays the Fiddler theme and then eats the fiddle. Tevye, his wife Golde, and his two remaining daughters, having immigrated to the USA, arrive on Avenue Jew, an area inhabited by Jewish versions of the Avenue Q characters.
TV news has a long and illustrious history of having fictional characters on as guests while pretending they are actually real. Below is a curated selection of some favorite moments.
Kermit’s other half Miss Piggy on NBC’s “Today” talking about her “career”:
Kermit the Frog on CNN’s “The Situation Room” arguing for inter-species relationships:
The infamous ALF interview on “O’Reilly”:
Serious news anchor Erin Burnett interviews puppet presidential candidate Marvin Quasniki:
And, of course, the characters of Avenue Q on MSNBC: