Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sock Puppets

Yesterday I went to see Puppet Up, a combination improv/puppetry evening that might seem as far away from the study of digital culture as one can possibly imagine. Actually, the troupe led by Brian Henson of Jim Henson Studios fame ended the evening with an impromptu mock-opera called "Texting," from a theme suggested by the audience, so it ended up reflecting the norms of electronic interaction even in the context of face-to-face, unscripted, pre-digital entertainment. Unlike the YouTube hit "Text Message Brake-Up," this ensemble piece on a similar theme wasn't filmed. However, with other shows Puppet Up has been taking advantage of online video to build an audience for its "snackable" entertainment at TBS, on YouTube, and in other Internet venues, like other purveyors of sketch comedy, who may actually end up thriving in the era of Web 2.0. Certainly, much of the evening had an element of vaudeville, which Henry Jenkins has argued is making a resurgence among YouTube hits, and besides the Internet has given us a host of puppetry metaphors with sock puppet chief among them. The group's next show is October 20.

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