So here we are.
My heart is heavy tonight, and my thoughts are raw.
A legend has left us. He was not a household name, but his was a household voice.
His name was Jerry Nelson. You might know him better as the Count. Or Emmet Otter. Or Gobo Fraggle. Or Robin the Frog. Or Floyd in the Electric Mayhem. Or Herry Monster... Mumford... Sherlock Hemlock... Farley... Pops... Lew Zealand... the Trash Heap... Or even the guy who announced, Piiiiigs iiiin Spaaaaaace! Or a thousand other Muppet characters who have touched your life in one way or another.
He was the very heart of all us Muppet Performers, the positive light, the one who would make us all smile even at the mere mention of his name. He was our Wise One, our music, our muse. To know him was to love him.
But long before I met him, long before I ever had the notion of working with him, long before I even knew his name, he was simply a magic, glorious voice that emanated from record albums and movie screens and televisions. And I loved him before I ever had a notion of him. Of course, I didn’t know that I loved him. I loved his characters. But Jerry’s characters were Jerry, plain and simple.
That’s the secret of the Muppet Performers, and indeed most of the truly devoted actors: we give you our hearts through our characters. That is not to say that we are our characters. There is a difference. But our souls are there, lay bare, disguised as fun.
I don’t ask you, my devoted dozens, for much of anything, not even for candy. But tonight, today, now... I ask you to honor this man. Go to the magic YouTube machine. Search away:
Jerry Nelson Muppets
Jerry Nelson Sesame Street
Jerry Nelson Fraggle Rock
Jerry Nelson Emmet Otter
Jerry Nelson Truro Daydreams
Jerry Nelson puppeteer
Or go buy some old-school physical media. There are DVDs and CDs of so much of Jerry’s work out there in the world. Google him. Go to Wikipedia. (Or better yet, Muppet Wiki - muppet.wikia.com - an incredible trove of information.) Make that Internet sing. Hear that glorious voice.
You’ll find that you loved him too. You just didn’t know it.
Yes indeed. Welcome to me.
P.S. Obviously, we all know - or should know - that Muppet Performers are not just voiceover artists. They bring characters to life in every physical and audible way. I mention Jerry in terms of his voice because it was beautiful and soulful and instantly identifiable. Give a listen and you'll understand.