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Not your typical puppets

Local puppeteers create adult humour show

By: Viola Pruss

  |  Posted: Saturday, Jun 07, 2014 06:00 am

SOCIAL FABRIC – With their floppy arms and happy faces, the stars of the new YouTube series called Social Fabric may look like your typical, family-friendly TV spectacle.
SOCIAL FABRIC – With their floppy arms and happy faces, the stars of the new YouTube series called Social Fabric may look like your typical, family-friendly TV spectacle.
VIOLA PRUSS/St. Albert Gazette

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Watch them online

Social Fabric can be found on Facebook and YouTube. The first episode will premiere on Monday, June 9 at 7 p.m. at the Roxy Theatre as part of Edmonton's NextFest. The creators warn that the show is not safe to watch at work, and includes crude language and adult humour.

Don’t be fooled by the looks of fluffy, blue-skinned Atticus and his friends.

With their floppy arms and happy faces, the stars of the new YouTube series called Social Fabric may look like your typical, family-friendly TV spectacle.

But local creators Trevor Duffy and Chris Boyle are quick to explain that their show is about adult humour and the type of people you meet in a bar.

“I think people have seen those type of faces around,” said Boyle. “I mean, look at the bearded guy with glasses.”

That puppet is Guy (also spoken and played by Boyle), a pseudo-intellectual who spends his afternoons at the local watering hole, accompanied by his two hipster band-mates, nerd Atticus and the group’s self-appointed leader Pos.

When the three find out that Ted, the obnoxious son of a local beer baron, has taken over the brewery and changed the formula of their favourite beer, they set out on an adventure to get the old taste back.

It happens with a lot of crude commentary, with the help of scientist Doc (who’s liking for experiments on living things reminds one of The Muppets’ Dr. Bunsen), sassy love interest Flo, Guy’s older brother Bud, and human bartender Phil.

“They are all loosely based off our friends, and the personality traits that our friends have,” says Duffy, adding that many of the characters were also inspired by people Boyle met while working at the Artery, a live-music venue in Edmonton.

So far, the show consists of one, 15-minute episode with a second moving into production this summer. A first public showing will take place on Monday, June 9 at NextFest in Edmonton.

Boyle and Duffy say the show is very much a work in progress and a hobby they attend to on weekends and evenings, when not working at their regular jobs.

It took them almost a year to build the puppets, write the script for the first episode and film it, said Boyle. Now they’re looking to get the show out there and see how people respond to it.

“This is a very new venture for us as far as creators of puppets and such,” said Boyle. “So it’s just kind of seeing where it takes us.”

Making puppets

But the two 30-somethings aren’t newcomers to the world of puppeteers.

Growing up with Mr. Rogers and The Muppet Show, the likes of puppet creators such as Jim Henson left their mark on Boyle, who went to school in St. Albert, and Duffy, an Edmonton native.

Before creating Social Fabric, the two friends had already worked with puppets for 13 years, acting at live events and even creating them for Felt-Up, another Edmonton-based TV show.

The latter inspired them to create their own characters. Social Fabric was born in early 2013.

“It’s just a long line of puppeteering that has gotten us to this point of doing our own,” said Boyle, who adds that they almost have more fun filming the show than watching it.

“Puppets doing stuff, it’s hilarious. When we are doing production we’ll do a scene and we just end up laughing and laughing because it’s so funny to make them do stuff, to see them walking.”

While the two act out Atticus and Guy, they often need the help of their friends to perform the other characters. That can be difficult when everyone has a different schedule, said Duffy.

Filming took place on locations across Edmonton, and in a wheat field near St. Albert. They produced at The Electric Treehouse, a friend’s private recording studio in St. Albert.

“We saw the processes they were using (at Felt-Up), how they work and how they made it happen,” said Boyle. “And then post-production that’s where we didn’t know what was going on and we had to learn how to do it.”

Moving on

This season of Social Fabric will consist of three episodes and a few short films, said Duffy. But they are already looking to use their puppets in other productions.

They want to create an interview show where a puppet talks to different bands, he said. They are also producing a music video with the use of their fluffy companions.

It would be great if they could turn the show into something sustainable, added Boyle. But they can’t compete with The Muppets, and there’s also not a big market for adult-humour puppet shows, he said.

“It will be a real eye opener on Monday to see during NextFest with a group of people that we don’t know, to see what part they laugh at,” he said.


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