Hi, my name is Michael and I’m a puppeteer!
Over 40 years ago my obsession with puppets began. It was my parents decision to put me in front of the television to watch the Muppet Show that captured my imagination and love of puppets, especially Jim Henson’s Muppets!
Growing up it was a regular activity to perform puppet shows to my grandparents alongside my sister. Reflecting back some of those puppets were pretty basic and certainly showed that they were well used, who would have thought at that time, I would be making my own puppets in the future!
At the age of 13, with the help of my mum I created my first-ever puppet. It was a character called ‘Chickem’ who was chicken, another obsession of mine – something I share with the Great Gonzo! After this, I sewed my own character named Miss Keren, based on the lead vocalist of successful 90s dance act Euphoria – who I’m excited to say is a good friend of mine today!
Miss Keren got her debut on the popular Australian Children’s Program Agro’s Cartoon Connection, where I won a competition based on a video submission featuring my puppet.
As a teen, the puppet passion didn’t cease and I soon enlisted some of my friends, including my best friend Nathan. As a troupe we filmed a number of Muppet Show style tribute shows. At the time I was experimenting with brand names and so the Nuppets (1991-92) and Juppets (1993-2000) were born. It wasn’t until mid-2000 that my puppets were officially branded as ‘The Doogles’ - which of course remains to this day! Looking back the name changes evolved along with the characters and their designs. With The Doogles taking on a more professional look and feel.
People have often asked me, where did I learn how to puppeteer! Well to be honest, I’ve never had any ‘official’ formal training in puppet design or performance. Everything I learnt, I studied by watching Jim Henson’s Muppets – every movement, voice, shape, song, etc., all came through careful observation and years of practice. Over ten years ago I was amazed to be asked to contribute to course content for a puppet course with Melbourne University – it was a great achievement to have my knowledge and skills recognised.
Nowadays, I still continue to learn and I’ve undertaken a few online tutorials which have really helped in perfecting my puppet building techniques.
Apart from puppet building and performing a big aspect of what makes the Doogles ‘the Doogles’ is the music I choose to perform. I don’t just choose any old song for the Doogles to perform – it has to fit their image.
Obviously, I am influenced by broadway tunes and music performed on the Muppet Show, but my biggest influence in music has been with 80s & 90s Hit Factory producers and songwriters Stock Aitken Waterman. Their HI-NRG tunes and infectious bubblegum pop sound - is a large part of ‘The Doogles’.
To this day, I will perform these tracks along with other music from the 70s through to the 00s and audiences thoroughly enjoy it! It’s timeless tunes that are fun, carefree and family friendly.
In 2019, I continue to perform, build and sing to audiences giving them the opportunity to escape into the world of the Doogles where anything is possible!
I like to think we are fun and simply unforgettable!
Who is Jim Henson?
Jim Henson, the man behind the Muppets, was born on September 24, 1936, in Greenville, Mississippi. Henson began working as a puppeteer in college, creating characters like Kermit the Frog. He worked as a producer on Sesame Street, a popular kids' show that launched in 1969, and created The Muppet Show in 1976. The Muppet Movie, the first of many movies featuring Henson's famous characters, appeared in 1979. Henson received several accolades for his work, including Emmys, Grammys and a Peabody Award.