Ryan Dosier – Whenever anyone asks me, “How did you become a Muppet fan?” it’s always asked with a tone of confusion and shock. And… I never really know how to answer without going into a long explanation involving lots of things they’ve never heard of. That’s why I love this Testimonial series… all of you people out there are sure to understand! I was born in October of 1990–five months after Jim Henson passed away–and most people my age can barely tell you the difference between Fozzie and Rowlf, let alone tell you who performed Angus McGonagle the Argyle Gargoyle and what episodes of The Muppet Show he appeared in. The tale of my Muppet fandom is an odd one… but then again, would the Muppets really have it any other way?
When I was a kid the Muppets were always around, of course, but I felt like I never knew them as much as I wanted to. I adored Muppet Babies when I was young (and I still have some of my old video tapes), I clearly remember watching the episode of Muppets Tonight with The Artist Formerly Known as Prince when I was five or six, and when I was nine I went to see Muppets From Space with my grandparents and we were the only three people in the entire theater. I remember this because at the end of the movie, my grandpa got up and grooved to the soundtrack playing over the credits. When my brother was born, Sesame Street became his life. He had a Tickle-Me-Elmo, a talking Kermit (which I stole), and tons and tons of Sesame toys. We would play for hours with the toys… an omen, if you will, of what was to come soon after.
It was the summer of 2004. I was 13 and just about to start my eighth grade year of school. While everyone else I knew was developing a love for things like Halo, American Idol, and Britney Spears, I went in the exact opposite direction while visiting my aunt and uncle in Georgia. We went to a mall and while in a Suncoast movie store I made a purchase that would change my life forever. I remember very clearly my decision to buy an action figure of Gonzo (from Series 5 of the unbelievable Palisades Toys line), who was always my favorite when watching Muppet Babies. I don’t know what drove me to buy this random little toy that day… but it’s safe to say that Gonzo changed everything for me. To this day, Gonzo sits proudly on my shelf as my most prized Muppet possession.
After that single purchase, everything snowballed. On that same trip to Georgia I bought at least five other Muppet figures (Patrol Bear Fozzie, Rowlf, Kermit as Captain Smollet, Clifford, and Pepe). I was completely hooked on Muppets. I had to have more, had to know what was next. By December of 2004 I had joined the Palisades Toys Forum and the Muppet Central Forum. This is where I truly became a Muppet fan. Among people who loved these characters and knew more about them then I could ever hope to, I started to understand why I intrinsically loved the Muppets the way I did (and still do). I fell in love with a frog and a pig and a bear and a whatever. I became reintroduced to my old friends Big Bird, Grover, Ernie, Bert. I discovered a brand new world in Fraggle Rock. I truly understood Jim Henson’s message for the first time.
I began writing fan-fiction on Muppet Central forum–mostly because I was bored one summer. It spiraled from there, giving me a new love of bringing these characters to life, fully understanding them, and being blown away by their heart and humor. Through fan-fiction I discovered why the Muppets love each other, why they were important, and just how difficult, yet at the same time rewarding, it is to deal with critics. I also made some wonderful, lasting friendships through fan-fiction. Friends who are still friends today, and who have helped make The Muppet Mindset a success.
Then came 2007. A relatively unimportant year in the Muppet world, but incredibly exciting for me. In August of 2007 I was announced as the winner of The MuppetCast Muppet Impression contest. My impression of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew won me a copy of Kermit’s book, Before You Leap, signed by Muppet writer Jim Lewis and the Frog himself. I knew I had made it big. (Relatively speaking.) It was here that I first began working with The MuppetCast’s Steve Swanson, who was gracious enough to let me come back to the show a few more times to do my impressions. This sort of snuck me into the world of people who actually create things for Muppet fans.
It wasn’t until two years later that I became something more than the guy who does funny voices on The MuppetCast and the guy who occasionally writes fan-fiction on Muppet Central Forum. In 2009, after a lot of work and not a whole lot of thought, I started The Muppet Mindset. And… well, you all pretty much know the rest of that story, since we’re here now. I’ve had such an incredible few years thanks to this little website. In two years I’ve met CEO of The Muppets Studio Lylle Breier, writer Jim Lewis, and performer Bill Barretta in the summer of 2010, I met Dave Goelz and talked to Gonzo in October of that year, along with Fran Brill and Zoe in December, I interviewed Kevin Clash and Elmo in January 2011, met Jane Henson in February, and got to meet Steve Whitmire and Eric Jacobson just last month.
For seven years my Muppet fan journey has taken me all over the place. It’s gotten me meetings with people whom I consider heroes. It’s given me more opportunities than I ever could have expected. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: my goal with The Muppet Mindset has always been to make the world more Muppety. I just want to spread Jim Henson’s message and point out the way the Muppets and Sesame Street and The Jim Henson Company are all still making the world a better place for Jim’s having been here. I never knew Jim Henson… I never could have known him. But even still I try to spread his message in my small way.
Here we are in 2011 and the Muppets are about to make a huge resurgence. It’s an amazing time to be a Muppet fan, and no matter where The Muppet Mindset might take me, that’s what I’ll always be: a Muppet fan. I’ll never forget that seven years ago I was just a kid with a Gonzo action figure. Even today I’m just a kid with a lot of Muppet stuff and a website… but somehow, it works. It’s like Jim always said, “Take what you got and fly with it.”
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org