Friday, April 6, 2012


This is such a feel good story. It gives you faith and it allows you to know we all have a purpose in life. What we do with our drive and interests is up to us. We all have a destiny. Sometimes it helps to see and understand other artist's journeys to understand the possibilities of our own paths.

By pure happenstance, I was flipping through the TV channels last night. There just wasn't anything on worth watching. I landed on a documentary about the puppeteer, Kevin Clash. I kind of recognized him because he had been on other TV shows for brief moments. All his appearances had to do with puppets (blah, blah, blah). I knew he was a puppeteer due to Elmo fame. However, he never impressed me because he seemed so distant. His personality came off as harsh or boring. Boy oh boy, was I WRONG! This is why sound bites or tiny clips don't really tell the whole story. I was lucky to be able to view "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" last night. It rocked my world.

Kevin had the gift and desire to be a puppeteer very early in his life. He knew it as a pre-teen when he eyed his father's raincoat with a fake fur lining. Kevin got the scissors and started cutting. He made his first puppet. Rather than become outraged and planning punishment, his parents were OK with this. His father said to "just ask" next time. This was the start of a fantastic, wonderful career at the age of 10. Kevin made many, many more puppets. He was driven. He would watch TV shows with puppets, not only for entertainment but for technical advice. In his teens, he already had a cadre of puppet characters all stored in his parent's bedroom on plastic shelves. He knew his fate and destiny was waiting.

Yes, there were struggles. Why would a boy want to make puppets instead of playing sports? Why? He was teased and taunted, but his focus was on his love of puppets. He just kept creating no matter what was said or thought. Lucky for him, he had parents who encouraged his "odd" interest. They knew he knew his purpose in life.

Kevin's life is like a grand dominoes game. Everything seemed to happen at the right time and place. He had done the work, people talked, and he got jobs. He met other famous puppeteers and quickly landed work as a puppeteer for Captain Kangaroo and then another series came his way. Meanwhile his idol, Jim Henson was inviting him to the big party. It took a while for things to work out, but Kevin finally was asked and agreed to join the elite Muppets club, Sesame Street and all. This was like Kevin's life lotto. Jim Henson? Really???? It all fell into place.

However the biggest domino fell when another puppeteer didn't like Elmo. When Elmo first arrived on the Sesame Street scene, he was kind of gruff and rough. The veteran puppeteer didn't like him. So, he threw it in Kevin's lap. With a lifetime of experience and understanding puppetry, Kevin thought long and hard about Elmo. Who is Elmo? What should he represent? He decided that Elmo represents LOVE. He loves life. He loves people. He loves YOU. Kevin changed the sound of Elmo's voice to a sweet, vulnerable, but energetic childlike creature. In fact, Elmo became an extension of Kevin's personality mixed with his parent's understanding. Kevin isn't harsh or boring at all. He is just shy and obsessed with his artistic vision. The rest is history.

However this is not the whole story by far. If you get a chance, try to find the entire video and watch it. It will show you how our life dreams are there for the taking. If we have the commitment, drive, and life energy to proceed and make our dreams come true, it is there for us. We just need to grab and hold on.

Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey
Click pic to watch trailer
Kevin Clash is a remarkable, inspirational man.
Watch the documentary and you will understand why I am so in awe.
I mean really. I tear up just watching the trailer!!! :-)


namastenancy said...

Wasn't that a fantastic story? I teared up in the scenes where Elmo meets with the "Make a wish" children. How precious the gift of love!

Sheree Rensel said...

It is so funny I got this comment right now. I was just out on my back porch and ELMO came to my mind. I love Kevin Clash's story. I just love it. The way he knew from such an early age what he wanted and they way his life has played out is so wonderful. I love the way he understood and basically created Elmo's character. The story is amazing.
The whole video is wonderful.
It is so inspirational to me.
Thanks for your comment.