Interview with Legendary Muppet Performer Dave Goelz, Part 3

Published: September 26, 2013

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 4.


Interview with Dave Goelz
Conducted by Ryan Dosier
Dave Goelz’s Answers © Dave Goelz 2013


RYAN:   We’re back with the one and only Dave Goelz, who just cracked up over my joke about a goat and a dwarf and a jar of peanut butter. Any jokes you’d like to share, Dave?

DAVE:   Now Ryan, tell the truth. We didn’t go anywhere, and you didn’t tell me a joke. This is a written interview. And I can’t remember jokes.

RYAN:   Then came Fraggle Rock, a series that I know is very special to everyone involved in it. How did this show’s differences from The Muppet Show challenge and liberate the performers working on it?

DAVE:   At first I felt limited by the show’s agenda, with its focus on modeling good behavior for kids. Eventually I found that it became kind of therapeutic. It was a chance to develop as a person, and that triggered a lot of growth and change for me.

RYAN:   What was it like on the occasions when Jim came to perform in an episode of Fraggle Rock?

DAVE:   It was great fun. He did Convincin’ John and Cantus the Minstrel, both of whom were wonderful characters. Jocelyn Stevenson wrote the latter for Jim, and it captured his wisdom and whimsy perfectly.

RYAN:   How much of Boober exists within you? Do you admire socks, tedium, and drudgery as much as he does?

DAVE:   Each of my characters comes from a part of myself. In Boober’s case, it’s the part that fears interviewers and would rather retreat to laundry. Which reminds me I need dryer sheets.

RYAN:   Boober formed tight bonds with many other characters on the show. Which of his friends do you think is the most important to Boober?

DAVE:   That would be Wembley, for sure.

RYAN:   One of Boober’s most hilarious relationships is with Sidebottom, his fun-loving alter-ego. Can you talk about the episodes where you played both Boober and Sidebottom and the difficulties and rewards that came with this?

DAVE:   Jocelyn Stevenson thought it would be interesting to see what would happen if Boober could overcome his fear. She hit upon the device of Boober meeting his alter ego in a dream, with an ensuing power struggle.

My favorite of the three episodes is Boober’s Quiet Day, which is structured as a farce, and results in a compromise––hence, a little growth for Boober. It helped me find more fun in him thereafter.

The shoot was a challenge, as I performed both sides of Boober and Sidebottom’s dialogue. Someone read off-lines while I performed each character, using blue-screen for the second character. I worked closely with our director, Eric Till, and our video switcher, Harley Walker.

RYAN:   What was it like performing Philo while filming the Trash Heap scenes with Jerry Nelson as Marjory and Richard Hunt as Gunge?

DAVE:   I loved it. Jerry was incredible with Marjory. His character and manipulation are just so alive. Richard created Gunge, who was such a great character that I just did the same thing with Philo. The “yeeeaaahhhh” was Richard’s. My favorite part of them was doing background vocals when Marjory sang. Search youtube for “Fraggle Rock I’ve Seen Trouble.”

RYAN:   The World’s Oldest Fraggle is one of my favorite characters on the show. How did this character come about?

DAVE:   They wrote the character and our producer Larry Mirkin asked me to perform him. My contribution was to make him kind of senile, and that he compensated for his lapses by blaming his flunky, who was played by John Pattison.

RYAN:   What were filming the Traveling Matt segments like? Were people receptive to a Fraggle on their roller coasters, in their farms, and throwing their money into fountains?

DAVE:   I don’t remember too much about attention from the public while we were shooting, but we seemed to have access to every place we wanted to go.

RYAN:   What are your favorite Traveling Matt segments?

DAVE:   I love the episodes when the legendary Traveling Matt comes home to Fraggle Rock and is exposed as a fool. Gobo wants to be proud, but Matt is utterly incompetent, and Red makes fun of him. Great dynamic! I also adore the episode that shows Matt as a little boy who wants to be an explorer just like his Uncle Gobo, who was a very accomplished explorer. Matt, of course, was incompetent even as a child.

RYAN:   What about your favorite Boober moments?

DAVE:   Boober’s Quiet Day. See above. Also the episode Marooned.

RYAN:   One of the most important aspects of Fraggle Rock was the music. What were some of your favorite songs on the show?

DAVE:   I loved everything that Dennis Lee and Phil Balsam wrote. Those two were just fantastic together. I saw them recently at the Fraggle 31st Year Reunion. They are lovely people, and so talented.

RYAN:   What does Fraggle Rock mean to you?

DAVE:   Harmony.

Jeez, are you ever going to stop with the questions?

RYAN:   What do you think is the lasting legacy of Fraggle Rock?

DAVE:   I’m thrilled that people in their thirties and forties are passing it along to their children. What a great feeling.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier,

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