Behind the scenes with Felton and Chives

Jackie Renzetti

 

 

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Megan Culverhouse helps Chives the puppet get in costume. Photo by Liam Doyle

 

On Tuesday night, I tagged along with one of our photographers, Liam, who was shooting photos for The Ridiculous Puppet Company story. Though the story was already locked in after deadline, witnessing the Ridiculous Puppet Company film their weekly video blog was an experience in itself.

 

As Liam and I entered the warehouse, a door plastered with a pair of giant googly eyes and a sign that said “please wash your claws before entering” assured us that we had found the right place.

 

Megan Culverhouse promptly welcomed us into their work space — a prop master's dream.

 

She said that the space was 1,000 square feet with 18 feet high ceilings. I’m not a mathematician, but I’d say puppets and their respective costumes and props occupied about 500 of those square feet.

 

As the team members chatted and sipped beers, I soaked in the spectacular surroundings.

 

A glass case framing a rubber chicken with the label “In case of emergency, use chicken” among a multitude of outlandish decorations felt fitting for the warehouse’s purpose — to produce weekly puppet video blogs and conduct meetings.

 

Likewise, the zany atmosphere matched the naturally hilarious and witty banter fit for a sitcom of Culverhouse, Jeff Neppl, Chad David, John Jennings and Tony Scudiero.

 

Though Culverhouse warned me that “very rarely, comedy happens,” it was clear that whether on camera or off, all those involved couldn’t have a conversation without a hilarious quip that didn’t have the whole room cracking up. Other times, we were fighting to contain our laughter as Neppl and Jennings performed on camera.

 

I sensed that having any conversation with Neppl or Jennings would be amusing, but watching those conversations take place through puppets added a whole new level of hilarity.

 

When the time came to film, Neppl explained that tonight wasn’t the norm — instead of filming a new segment, they were re-doing lost segments from last week’s vblog and testing out their new green screen.

 

Neppl offered me to sit on their futon to observe the filming process, but not without immediately placing foam down, as he insisted the futon was very uncomfortable.

 

Chad David was quick to remind me that I was sitting on “puppet guts” — the foam’s primary use is to fill puppets.

 

After Neppl and Jennings finished their segments for what became their 35th vblog, “Kung Fools,” they brought out a green screen, which they plan to use for future vblogs. Every Thursday, company releases a new video blog starring their original characters, Felton and Chives.

 

Because Scudiero, the videographer, needed material with the green screen to practice editing with, Neppl and Jennings improvised bits for the rest of the night with their puppets. They gave Felton and Chives a break and instead puppeteered with two other fabulously dressed puppets. Their goofy voices and scenarios matched the hilarity of the puppets' costumes.

 

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 Neppl and Jennings used two other puppets to practice performing with a green screen. 

Photo by James Doyle

 

“Why are we on the moon? You brought me here for this?” Neppl said in a high pitched faux-female puppet voice.

 

“I have a timeshare on the moon,” Jennings responded.

 

Chad David, the writer for the blogs, interrupted and started giving accent demands. Neppl adjusted, giving his best Russian and Irish accents while also continuously coming up with random new bits with Jennings. Their ideas escalated to the two puppets finding themselves in hell and also attempting to paddle a canoe with one arm. Others chimed in with the demands, asking for Christopher Walken or Jack Nicholson voices.

 

“Your editor is just going to be like, where did you go?” Culverhouse said.

 

When the time came to leave, Liam requested a note with the spelling of their names and positions in the company. Neppl took it a step further and provided secondary, ridiculous titles for all.

 

 

Culverhouse walked us out, where we talked a bit more about the project. She said despite the comedic nature of the project, they take the blog seriously. Prior to our exit, we had discussed how the team is sketching a plan to create a “premium” type membership for viewers, similar to how the crowdfunding platforms “Patreon” and “Subbable” work. They said that if they were to do this, their vblogs would remain accessible to all, but paying viewers would receive access to exclusive features such as behind the scenes clips.

 

“We believe in serious fun,” Culverhouse said.