Jason Jacoby Reveals 10 Things Fans Don't Know About the Tony-Winning Musical Avenue Q
June 4th, 2015
by Jason Jacoby
The Tony Award-winning Avenue Q has been going strong, making people laugh and shocking the hell out of New York audiences for over 10 years now, but how much do we really know about the shenanigans going on backstage? That’s why we enlisted the clever and hilarious Jason Jacoby—who is slaying it right now at New World Stages as Trekkie Monster and Nicky—to share with BroadwayBox 10 things fans don’t know about life backstage at off-Broadway’s Avenue Q.
1. Trekkie Monster is the only actor to have his own dressing room... for obvious reasons.
2. The hair and makeup team arrive 3 and a half hours prior to curtain to attend to all of Lucy the Sluts needs: hair curling (daily), hair dying (once a week), nail polish (every other day), teeth whitening (daily), Brazilian wax (twice daily [pre-show and intermission]), and additional makeup (far too in depth to list here).
3. The Bad Idea Bears are constantly playing practical jokes backstage. You never know what you'll find waiting for you in the wings. I've seen dangling nooses waiting to trap people, and I think one of our swings was once roofied. Naturally, Trekkie always falls for the booby traps.
No, but seriously...
4. The puppets truly are the stars of our show and, like the rest of us, require occasional upkeep. Our puppet wrangler takes care of the smaller things, like brushing Kate's hair (the only puppet who has actual human hair!) and erasing eye smudges. But if a larger issue arises, the puppets are sent back to their birthplace in New Jersey and their designer, Rick Lyon (who originated the roles of Nicky/Trekkie/Bear). Rick and his team replace worn out hands and mouth-plates, and when necessary, build us an entirely new puppet-- all hand-made, by the way! You just can't beat that.
5. In the animated "Purpose" video, two characters very closely resemble our song writers Bobby Lopez and Jeff Marx. They bully the animated Princeton, pouring water on him and stealing his books.
Photo by Bruce Glikas
6. A long-standing tradition at Q is the Door Decorating Contest. Every holiday season, we break up into groups and decorate various doors backstage (dressing rooms, bathrooms, etc.). A panel of guest judges rate our work and choose winners in a handful of categories (Funniest, Most Interactive, etc.).
7. With one exception, every time a character is wearing a different outfit, it is an entirely different puppet. Thus, there are a total of 34 puppets used in the show: 7 Princetons, 5 Kate Monsters, 5 Rods, 5 Nickys, 3 Trekkie Monsters, 3 Lucy the Sluts, 1 of each Bad Idea Bear, 1 Mrs. Thistletwat, 1 Ricky, 1 Newcomer, 6 Purpose boxes, 1 Giant Katezilla (technically in 3 parts). The one exception is the naked Princeton puppet, who gets a bathrobe for the top of Act II.
8. Our current resident director is none other than Tony-Nominee John Tartaglia, who originated the roles of Princeton/Rod (thus the Tony-nom).
9. One of the more fascinating aspects of our show is when one actor is manipulating a puppet while another actor is providing the voice. This happens most frequently for the track known as "the second-hander" who, at one point or another, operates every single character! But what you might not know is that some of the characters you see popping out of windows are not being manipulated by who you think. For starters, there are 2 ensemble members: they provide right hands for Trekkie and Mrs. T, operate Princeton during "The Internet is For Porn", and help bring Katezilla to life (among other things). Also, Trekkie's entire first verse of "Porn" is being physically performed by the actor who plays Princeton. I provide the vocal performance while I make my way from the upstage-right window, down the stairs, and around to the downstage-left door, ready to burst onstage as soon as the Trekkie-filled window above me slams shut. If it sounds complicated, that's because it is.
10. We just won for Best Bonnet Presentation (aka Best Skit) at this year's Easter Bonnet Competition, and we couldn't be more honored! Q has been a staunch supporter and fundraiser for Broadway Cares and the cast is constantly brainstorming ideas for Bonnet and Gypsy of the Year performances. This year, we parodied The Lion King's "Circle of Life", using upwards of 20 puppets to create our version of various animal herds/species. Q has not won for Best Bonnet Presentation since 2004, when we teamed up with the cast of Fiddler on the Roof in "Avenue Jew" (do yourself a favor and find it on YouTube, it's absolutely hilarious).
Now that you know all the gang's secrets go back and see Avenue Q, starring Jason Jacoby, all anew at New World Stages.