Skin the Cat, Turn the Screw

“I’m beautiful in my way, ’cause God makes no mistakes. I’m on the right track, baby I was born this way.” – Born This Way, Lady Gaga (Born This Way, 2011)

Those of you who follow The Mud Puppets closely know the deal. Hell, most people who only follow the show casually know the deal — it’s satire, parody. It’s a joke. Admittedly, Ryan and I use our podcast as a means to offer something of a behind-the-scenes look into our lives and the production of all things related to The Mud Puppets. But even that at times allows us slip into exaggeration and bombast. Ryan and I allow ourselves to do that in the name of comedy, we know how to tune that dial and we’re precisely aware of where our real life selves blur the line with the more outlandish Mud Puppets caricatures.

Each episode of Mud Puppets Radio is nothing more than Ryan and I riffing on current events, our hobbies and the daily minutiae of our lives. There is no script. Sometimes I jot ideas down throughout the week or Ryan might shoot me a few suggestions by text or Facebook. Other times, Ryan will come over and we’ll brainstorm topics a half hour before we record. Once we have our topics or segments I put them in order and we fire up the equipment. It’s a fun, loose format. By contrast, the show produced for Wyandotte Cable is scripted. Aside from ad-libs or the occasional on-the-fly switch, The Mud Puppets Show that appears on Wyandotte Cable and YouTube is largely scripted. We’re playing characters. It’s shtick. Satire. Parody. Really, how hard does such a point need to be hammered?

I decided to write this today due to the ongoing hand-wringing that has taken place at Wyandotte City Hall. It has become abundantly clear the harmless jokes we’ve directed at the Mayor, City Council and other elected officials have not been appreciated by those individuals. It has become obvious that they either don’t understand the humor or simply hold themselves in such high regard that they’re incapable of laughing at their own behavior, and rest assured there’s plenty to laugh about.

You see, Ryan and I can make a distinction between ourselves and the loudmouthed troublemakers we portray on our show, but most of those that hold seats of power in Wyandotte don’t have that same ability. Not only can they not grasp The Mud Puppets Show for the painfully obvious satire that it is, they’re also incapable of separating their petty, small city public personas from their actual, real lives. These self-styled royals would have you believe that they aren’t playing to the camera every time they assemble for one of their ludicrous council meetings. They live in a bubble inflated and sustained by the very hot air they themselves produce. It’s sad, pathetic and delusional.

That behavior has led a number of these thin-skinned politicians to entertain the notion of legal action in order to prevent further ridicule of themselves from a show that is so plainly an exercise in satire. I know, it’s the kind of thing you have to take a moment to wrap your mind around. The reactions Ryan and I have received from Wyandotte’s elected officials is far more farcical than anything we’ve ever done on The Mud Puppets Show. It’s worth noting too the particular content that has been found objectionable. Bear in mind that throughout the three years that our show has aired on Wyandotte Cable we’ve shied away from no topic no matter how controversial or taboo. In fact the more inappropriate a topic may seem has only increase the chance that we would use it for comedic fodder, because for those of you who just don’t get it — that’s the function of comedy in any society. Often on our show the comedy can be gross, sophomoric or even mean-spirited.

Below I’ve listed some examples of things we’ve done on our show — stay with me for a moment because this all has a point.

We skewer celebrities.

We mock the dead.

I once appeared as a horny, female elf and vigorously enjoyed an oversized candy cane.

Matt has rubbed his nipples on at least half a dozen occasions.

There are endless fat jokes.

We recently insinuated that Ryan was raped by extraterrestrials and currently have a fictitious sponsor called Alien Splooge as a result of his assault.

A crude, drunken sock puppet named Munch has reveled in debauchery and the misery of others.

We once highlighted a story about the Swiss Cheese Pervert, a guy who tried to lure woman by rubbing swiss cheese on his genitals.

My brother has portrayed a pan-sexual pirate who owns a boat called the Brown-Eye Bruiser.

I promoted something called the Decapitation Challenge.

I could go on, but I think those are enough examples. Do you know what all of those things have in common? We received zero complaints about any of it. Despite the tasteless or insensitive nature of such content we’ve never heard a single complaint. Do you know what that tells me? It isn’t the content or context of the show that’s the problem. The only time we’ve received complaints or fielded backlash is when a public official has been the target of our playful mockery. Their concern over what is said on The Mud Puppets Show is transparent and self-serving.

Now, I could remind them that Ryan and I have done nothing illegal and that satire, parody and indeed comedy are protected by the First Amendment. I could point out that time and again courts have ruled in favor of these rights. I could indicate to the elected officials in Wyandotte that they’re no different than the state and national public officials who are portrayed as craven crooks and incapable idiots in every newspaper across the country with a cartoonist on staff. But do I really need to do that? I don’t think so. They already know all of this and that’s why any threat of legal action is nothing more than impotent rage and ultimately more clay for us to mold on The Mud Puppets Show — and we do thank them kindly for that.

No, what I’d rather do today, right here in this post is air out the truth of the matter. The Mud Puppets Show has only come under fire to the extent that it has because I’m an employee at Wyandotte Cable. The powers-that-be, in all of their infinite wisdom, believe that my employment is a card to be played, something to be leveraged against me. Well, I’m here to say that I’m not intimidated and I’m not impressed. I’m sure these strong-arm tactics usually yield the results that these humorless cowards are after, but they will not deter me. It only emboldens me. The folks making noise believe themselves to be invincible in this community — that they’re some how above criticism or entitled to the meager power of their office.

To those people, I say this —

You’ve never dealt with someone quite like me so spare me the political theater and your baseless legal threats. Or don’t, I’m quite enjoying the show. Yeah, I’m laughing, boys. We’re talking head-thrown-back, stitch-in-the-side, full-on gut-busting laughter. Jokes are simple, fellas. You can be in on it, you can be the butt of it or you can ignore it. What you won’t do is stop it. In fact, your absurd response has done more to cement you as a joke than anything Ryan or I could ever say on the satirical offerings of The Mud Puppets Show.

I’m not here to kiss your ring.

I don’t bow to blue bloods.

I’m not asking for your approval.

I don’t need your permission.

– Joel

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Many Thanks to Relay For Life

cv_3_4010783408409032380 We would like to send out a big thank you to Missy Pawlak for her appearance on our show back in March. Many thanks go out as well to everybody who took the time to talk to us at the Relay For Life event at Council Point Park on May 10th. We had a lot of fun and plan to bring Munch back next year. For full coverage of our interaction with Relay For Life simply click the links below.

Of Cancer & Comedy: Mud Puppets episode from March 29, 2014 featuring Mission Chair Missy Pawlak.

Munch at Relay For Life: Munch the Surly Sock Puppet brings his unique blend of humor to Relay For Life.


Bi-Weekly Video Releases

Hello, Mud Puppeteers! The title cuts the heart of this post — Ryan and I have decided to release new content on a bi-weekly basis as opposed to each and every Saturday. Why the switch? Well, we are doing this for the same reasons we’ve made changes in the past — so the work we put out can be that much better.

We debuted the Mud Puppets roughly a year and a half ago and in that time we have worked on the project non-stop. We have enjoyed it thoroughly and in no way is this to be interpreted as an end or hiatus. Admittedly, we have other obligations and pursuits in our personal lives and the constant plan-write-shoot-edit cycle has exhausted us at times, but we have plenty of ideas left to share with you and no plans to cease the muddy madness.

In releasing something new every Saturday, it has become difficult to attend to other matters of our operation such as promotion and various technical aspects. We’d also like to commit more time to our cable access show which we will of course continue to release online. In addition to that you can expect to see changes made to mudpuppets.com and the playlists on youtube. You may even see more stories popping up here at the blog.

Anyway, I won’t bore you with anymore of the mundane details but our goal is that a bi-weekly release schedule will allow a wider audience to enjoy better content. This change goes into effect immediately.

-Mud Puppet Joel


The Mud Puppets Experience a Bloodbath!

In our latest Mupdate, Ryan and I announced our plans for Horror Month. This October everything we release on YouTube will be related to horror and Halloween — next Saturday for instance our sketch will feature a demented child who has a habit of drawing disturbing pictures.  And that’s just the beginning gang!

We’ll also be heading into the studio that day to shoot the fourth episode of our variety show and as you may have guessed this one will be chucked plumb full of fun and fright. Among our guests will be representatives from the Wyandotte Jaycees, the group responsible for that haunted attraction known as Bloodbath on Biddle! The Jaycees organization has a long history of haunting and we can’t think of a better guest to represent the community for this Halloween inspired episode.

Ryan and I had a chance to go out to the haunted house this weekend and were treated to a behind the scenes tour. We shot interviews with various members of the organization from electricians and artists to the very ghouls that will prowl the grounds come October. We even squeezed in a Blair Witch inspired comedy bit. All of this will be featured in our episode which will be posted to our YouTube channel on October 12th.

Mud Puppet Ryan is about to be axed!

Mud Puppet Ryan is about to be axed!

Ryan and I pose with project lead Jon Dehring who is understandably terrified.

Ryan and I pose with project lead Jon Dehring who is understandably terrified.

The freaks are out on Biddle!

The freaks are out on Biddle!

We Mud Puppets ham it up outside the haunt.

We Mud Puppets ham it up outside the haunt.

Bloodbath on Biddle is located at 3131 Biddle Ave. Wyandotte, MI. 48192. The haunt will run October 11-13, 17-20, and 24-31. Bloodbath on Biddle is open 7pm-10pm Thursdays and Sundays, 7pm-Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $15. For more information visit wyandottejaycees.org or call (734) 288-7024. A wonderfully grisly ad can be found for Bloodbath on Biddle on page 25 of the Fear Finder.


Mud Puppeteers Sketch Off

In our latest Mupdate we announced the kick off of the Mud Puppeteers Sketch Off, a contest we’re holding for our fans. Did you miss it? No fears — just watch it below!

Are you too lazy to watch that video right now? Fear not, we have you covered! Below is a summary of the contest guidelines and rules!

1. Submit a short description of your sketch, even a basic idea such as, “Ryan and Joel buy a dog” or “The Mud Puppets poison each other” is fine. Let your imagination soar; don’t be afraid to explore bizarre, profane, or even taboo topics — hell, that’s what we’re all about! In addition to your idea be sure to provide us with a brief pitch summarizing your vision.

2. Keep it practical. We have a very limited budget, seriously if the props or costumes you have in mind can’t be made with markers and poster board or purchased at the dollar store then it’s not within our means to produce.

3. We’re stating the obvious here but remember, if you send us a sketch you’re agreeing to let us produce it and potentially profit from it (YIPPEE MONIES)!

4. You may submit as many ideas as you like but we will only pick one submission per entrant. If you fool us into thinking that you’re two different people AND we select multiple submissions from you then kudos brothers and sisters. But seriously, don’t do that.

5. We will accept entries until December 1st. So when you’re up late on November 30th pirating your favorite television shows or cranking one out to some wacky, Japanese porn — stop for a minute and be sure to send us your submission!

6. Do not submit your ideas to us in any other fashion than email. Send your sketch to: themudpuppets@gmail.com

7. We will select three runner up winners and one grand prize winner. All four sketches will be produced and released in January 2014 — the grand prize winner will have the opportunity to introduce their sketch on our cable access show.

We’d like to encourage all of you to share this contest with your family, friends, and local grocer. You can take the lone wolf approach and write something yourself or feel free to grab a buddy and craft a classic! We eagerly await your submissions!

-Mud Puppet Joel