Politicians will talk up, or talk down, the economy, depending on what suits them. But they (and I) hardly need to tell you that plenty of people are doing it tough at the moment and jobs are hard to come by. Just ask Brett Hansen. The 34- year-old from The Gap has worked a myriad of occupations, from janitor and dish-washer to marketresearcher and admin assistant. But for the past eighteen months, there’s been nothing. So Brett has created a job by taking matters into this own hands – literally.
Turning to his
childhood love of the Muppets, he’s designed
and created a fluffy blue monster called
Troggg– “the middle g is silent” – and launched
himself on the Brisbane entertainment scene!
Troggg is unashamedly Muppet-like with
his squishy round red nose, ping-pong-ball
eyes and black bushy mono-brow blending
seamlessly into a bright orange mop of hair.
Protruding incisors confirm monster status!
“I had him built professionally by an ex-Jim
Henson Muppet builder,” Brett tells me. “I
wanted one where I could operate his hand.
You can’t buy those sorts of puppets so I
figured I might as well go all out and have one
of my own designed that I could use as the star
of all my shows.”
Entertaining is clearly in Brett’s blood.
When his hands are not inside puppets,
he plays keyboards in a couple of bands
(Headkase, Sound Distiller) and with theatre
group, ImproMafia. But it’s puppetry that Brett
has studied all his life.
“[As a child] I would be glued to the screen
whenever the Muppets were on. I would sit
there with puppets on my hands and mimic
the lip-synch and the movements and the way
“They were always doing all sorts of weird
and wonderful things to make them seem
real, right down to Jim Henson in a cage under
water puppeteering Kermit when he’s singing
Rainbow Connection. Filming them outdoors
– no one had ever done that before until
Brett’s become known around Brisbane
for his love of puppets: “I’ve been doing a bit
of consultancy, which was my official title in
Avenue-Q (the musical) last year, but I’ve been
working with some QUT students who are
doing a web series about an angry rooster so
I’ve been helping them with the movement of
isn’t as easy
as you might
“Eye focus is
a big thing
is the trick. Also the head moving forward
when you emphasise a word. And making sure
the puppet remains alive at all times. A lot of
people flop the puppet to the side if it’s not
talking but just keep it up and nodding and alert
and looking around.”
Troggg’s first big break came last month
when he was invited to co-host The Late Nite
Show on 31 Digital. I was in the 31 studio that
night. It felt truly special. Like watching Kermit’s
first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. I
looked at Brett operating Troggg and couldn’t
help but wonder where all this might lead.
Brett enjoyed it too, as did Troggg: “I think he
felt at home on television, under the lights with
his crazy blue fur.”
Of course there’s not much
call for puppets on Brisbane television, so Brett
is casting a wide net: “I’ve been doing a few kids’
puppet shows, Troggg’s even got an MC gig at
a film festival!” He is available for MC gigs at
corporate functions, wedding receptions, trivia
nights and comedy nights.
Given the enormous success of the adultconcept/
themed Avenue Q, perhaps it’s the
Muppets’ core fans – the children of the
seventies and eighties – that Brett needs to
After all, look at the way Peter Combe
has reinvented himself. These days, Combe still
performs his 1980s toddler hits Toffee Apple
and Newspaper Mama, but at nightclubs! The
audience is the same, just 25 years older.
Brett says he’s open to the idea: “I really
enjoyed Avenue-Q. I guess people were
reminded of the Muppets and they could relate
to the [more adult] subject matter as well. So I
can see an adult puppet series happening, either
a theatre production that I do with Troggg or a
TV series or a film would be nice.”
Best of luck to you, Brett, I’m expecting big
things from you and Troggg!