‘Puppet Up!’ a lot of work for cheap laughs

We have dirty minds.

No judginess. We’re in Vegas, after all. Where better?

But are we keeping “Puppet Up!” from being all that it can be?

Brian Henson, son of Muppets legend Jim, wants us to go there when we yell out sketch suggestions for this odd show, which puts raunchy improv comedy into the cute mouths of Henson puppets.

Patrick Bristow serves as host and intermediary between the audience and six comedian puppeteers, who choose puppets for short sketches based on audience input.

So the first one involved a hooker. With, if I heard it right, the novel twist of asking her for the money. Bristow threw us an arched eyebrow and announced with mock surprise, “So we’re starting right there.”

It wasn’t just this crowd, on the official opening night with Brian Henson in the house — and even on stage once — and arguably more puppeted up by an open bar than paying customers on a regular night. More than once, Bristow had to veto a suggestion because someone had yelled it the night before and “I want to challenge my cast.”

So a police station scene involved a cop, a translator, and a drunk Greek accused of unspeakable deeds with a horse, rather than masturbation in a public space.

Many of the comedians have toured with this show since it was called “Stuffed and Unstrung” and can finesse any suggestion into something at least a little smart or unexpected. Here, Colleen Smith as the police translator managed to give the bit a nice ending by explaining the Greek had a “big heart.”

“He was gonna make an honest woman outta that horse.”

And so it went. We asked for and received elevator sex, the game show “I Want a Divorce,” and a training video for aspiring porn camera operators.

The good and bad of “Puppet Up!” is its split focus. Improv is generally a low-budget vehicle, but part of the appeal here is seeing the Henson magic and how it’s created.

You can watch the video screen as a stoner’s delight: What looks just like children’s TV, but with R-rated audio. That trio of cute bunnies? Tripping on acid.

Or you can watch the main stage to see real human faces, as you will want to do when they are voicing computer-animated fish on the big screen.

But it seems like improv, by nature, produces more singles and doubles than home runs. (Or on this night, potential doubles that weren’t given time to land). And if you can get that same ratio from shows with far lower budgets, two of the only non-improvised bits, re-creating Jim Henson’s pioneering, pre-Muppets work, suggest we should all get our minds out of the gutter more often.

Some scenes are only half improvised, such as Peggy Etra singing a James Bond theme, or a film noir detective spoof. They could be places to deliver more proven laughs, as The Second City guaranteed for years on the Strip when it alternated the improv “games” with scripted material.

Still, a lot of us will root for these puppets as the diversity Vegas shows need, a “cult” alternative to, say, ventriloquist Terry Fator across the street. But cheap raunch doesn’t mean a cheap show. If this one’s going to spend the money, you’d think it would want that cult to be as big as possible.

Read more from Mike Weatherford at reviewjournal.com. Contact him at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com and follow @Mikeweatherford on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Entertainment
Jason Aldean talks about the possibility of a Las Vegas residency
Country superstar Jason Aldean discusses his feelings about playing in Las Vegas and says he'd be interested in a Las Vegas residency when the time is right at the iHeart Radio Music Festival in Las Vegas on September 21, 2018.(John Katsilometes/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US
Block 16 Urban Food Hall Serves Favorite Foods From Across The US (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment
Benny the Skating Dog could be the next Golden Knights on-ice entertainment (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Who To Watch At Life Is Beautiful
Life Is Beautiful Setup
Workers preparing Fremont street for this weekend's Life is Beautiful festival, on Wednesday, September 19, 2018. Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The 46th annual Greek Food Festival will feed 25,000 people in Las Vegas
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip
Madame Tussauds Has The Newest VR Experience On The Strip. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Zia Records Move
Zias Records is moving from its Sahara Avenue and Arville Street location to a bigger store. (Mat Luscheck/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies
Students At The International Contortion Convention In Las Vegas Learn How To Bend And Twist Their Bodies. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Video from Fertitta wedding Sep. 1
video from @wedstagrams of Fertitta wedding at Red Rock Resort
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas
You Can Get Vegan Unicorn Toast In Downtown Las Vegas (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Five must-see bands at Psycho Las Vegas 2018
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch
Zuma's Ice Cube Carving Is Satisfying To Watch (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores
Therapy In Downtown Las Vegas Serves Cast Iron S'mores. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes
New Brunch Spot The Stove Makes Unicorn Hot Chocolate And Bananas Foster Pancakes. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup
The Octopus On The Las Vegas Strip Predicted The Winner Of The World Cup. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-journal)
TLC by the Numbers
Watch Ruthless! at Las Vegas Little Theatre
The musical Ruthless! will be playing at Las Vegas Little Theatre from July 13-29. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
How to feel like a kid again in Las Vegas
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall
People Lined Up For Over 5 Hours For Build-a-bear's "Pay Your Age" Promotion At Galleria Mall. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Cadaver art and sword swallowing at The Dark Arts Market
Curator Erin Emrie talks about her inspiration for The Dark Arts Market at Cornish Pasty Co. in Las Vegas Tuesday, July 10, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What to expect at Station Casinos' Fourth of July celebration
Station Casinos' is hosting its annual 4th of July celebration with Fireworks by Grucci. Fireworks scheduled to go off on Wednesday, July 4 around 9 p.m. at Green Valley Ranch Resort, Red Rock Resort, Fiesta Rancho and Texas Station. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Pawn Stars' Richard Harrison honored at memorial service
A memorial service was conducted for Richard "Old Man" Harrison at Palm Mortuary in Las Vegas on Sunday, July 1, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Tourists and locals enjoy Independence Day fireworks at Caesars Palace
Hundreds of tourists and locals gaze at the Independence Day fireworks show at Caesars Palace on Saturday, June 30, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
5 must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
Five must-see bands at Warped Tour 2018
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table.
This Banana Split In Las Vegas Is Made With Fire And Liquid Nitrogen Right At Your Table. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster
Pixar Pier At Disneyland Is Open With New Food And A New Roller Coaster (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland
Here's What It's Like To Ride The New Incredicoaster At Disneyland (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
"Pawn Stars" fans visit Richard Harrison's memorial at Gold & Silver Pawn
"Pawn Stars" fans from around the world visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas following the passing of Richard "Old Man" Harrison on Monday, June 25, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like