Before the late, great Jim Henson was an empire, he was a person. A comic, in a sense. One who worked late-night TV spots on The Ed Sullivan Show and Saturday Night Live, riffing on anything that would make people laugh, without regard for demographics and ideas of parental guidance. “He was always doing puppetry for adults,” says son and now Jim Henson Co. producer Brian Henson. “Not exclusively adults, but that was his approach. So when he did Sesame Street, I think one reason why everyone loved it is because those are very sophisticated characters, and sometimes they’re being quite wry in a very adult way, and sort of naughty.”
Jim Henson’s Muppets would eventually go on to become one of the strongest forces in youth entertainment, capturing the imaginations of multiple generations of American kids, and the tradition continues today. The ninth feature Muppets film — starring Jason Segel — hits theaters nationwide this fall, and beginning Thursday, local audiences will be able to see the Muppets in their raunchier form, in the spirit of Jim Henson’s original puppeteer ideology, as son Brian, along with SF Sketchfest, brings his show Muppets: Stuffed and Unstrung to the Curran Theatre this week. Henson recently took a moment to chat about the project and how it fits into the Muppet canon.