A Win for Ignorance
Some lessons you can only learn from a purple TV made of felt.
For my latest webseries, my roommate and I are producing a show about two Boston roommates and their talking TV. It’s a wild series that fulﬁlls every writer’s dream of combining the whimsicality of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse with the dark realism of Barry. Imagine Alf if it was… good. It’s one of the funnest projects I’ve ever worked on, and I’m loving every minute of it.
But it’s certainly not without its challenges. We had to make this felt TV by ourselves, and none of us had the faintest bit of puppetry experience. It turned out surprisingly well (the guy’s freakin’ adorable), but this week we were faced with a bit of a dilemma: we had to make the thing walk.
Most shows with puppets cut holes in the ﬂoor of their sets, so that puppeteers can stand upright while the puppets remain at eye level with the rest of the actors. But seeing as we’re shooting in our third ﬂoor apartment, I doubt my neighbors on the second ﬂoor would be thrilled with that. So we had to ﬁnd another way.
My roommate was starting to freak out about this, insisting that we had no business doing something with elaborate puppetry when none of us were remotely qualiﬁed to do so. But I’ve never been one to give up that easy. It’s been a week of wild brainstorming in our increasingly- strange group chat, but I think things are going to work out for the best. After crossing off our ﬁrst 98 ideas, I think we have a few puppet-walking methods that might actually work.
The funny thing is, our lack of puppet knowledge is the best thing that could have happened to us. Nobody with any kind of formal training would have thought of some of these approaches, and those are the only ones that could possibly work in our apartment. With nobody to tell us no, we were able to tell ourselves yes.
I’m not ready to go out on a limb and say that knowledge and expertise are always bad. But I won’t not say that either. I’ll certainly chalk this one up as a win for ignorance.