SF Sketchfest is one of my favorite things about San Francisco. So when I saw that they were doing a Summer Social, and that it involved two of my favorite things: Muppets and Doug Benson, I jumped at the chance to attend.
Lugging my tired self to the Castro Theater by 10:30 am might have felt a bit like a chore, but it was well worth it. There’s nothing quite like seeing one of your favorite films on the big screen for the first time. What made it even better was the full audience of excited people, children and adults alike, giving great energy that made each special moment better than it has been before. Everyone was enthralled by the movie and some people couldn’t help themselves but sing along to the great songs written by Paul Williams. When the movie ended there was thunderous applause and I’m sure we were all glad we came.
That would have been enough to make it a worthwhile morning, but puppeteer Dave Goelz was there to do a Q & A after the movie. Also in attendance was his most famous character, Gonzo. I felt alive with childlike wonder to see Gonzo in the flesh. He looked so real. It’s hard to explain, but he was so colorful and alive, like he really is his own person. I felt so privileged to be there.
The conversation was moderated by the lovely Sketchfest founder Janet Varney and included just Dave Goelz at first, until he brought up his friend Susan Juhl, Muppets writer Jerry Juhl’s wife, then after anticipation was built fully for the star, out came Gonzo. We were treated to many wonderful stories from them from The Muppet Movie and from the fascinating Muppet world of Jim Henson. The story that stood out to me the most was about the final scene in The Muppet Movie where all the puppets stand in a rainbow. Apparently anyone in the LA area who could puppeteer was brought in to help out including two now famous directors, Tim Burton and John Landis (who was puppeteering Grover behind Goelz and really irritating him by mouthing off). But the best part of the story was told by Susan Juhl about what Jim Henson said to her as he looked over all the puppets below: “This is the best day of my life”.
That just says it all, right?