Meat Puppets Meet Puppets 

Snarkier than Avenue Q, smarter than Crank Yankers

The Josh and Tamra Show
Fri. Jan. 18, 9:30 p.m.; Sat. Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.; $12.50; Theatre 99; www.joshandtamra.com

"You're going to see awesome!"

That's how Josh of The Josh and Tamra Show pitches their "45 minute, longform, improv with puppets, comedy duo."

He can't be half wrong — just look at the surge in puppet popularity. Avenue Q took home handfuls of Tony awards. Crank Yankers made abuse from a felt mouth plausible. And then there was Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. The Josh and Tamra Show, however, is a new twist on the very old art. One girl, five puppets. Josh does all the puppet voices and manipulations.

"Initially he did the dress-in-all-black thing so you didn't know it was him," Tamra says. "But the face mask looked like a Ku Klux Klan hat."

That idea was quickly nixed. Today, Josh is totally visible and it doesn't appear to break the fourth wall. Tamra plays herself and interacts with characters such as Grandpa, Sarah Bear, Buddy, and, yes, Retarded Baby.

"Each character has an identity," Josh says.

Buddy is the loafer of the bunch. Sarah Bear is a cute yet neurotic carnivore who can't control herself when salmon is in sight. The curmudgeonly Grandpa is most life-like, according to Josh.

"I've had people come up to me after the show and be like, 'Grandpa is hilarious!'" he says. "And I'm like, 'Yeah that was me.'"

It's the man behind the mask who's making it all work.

2008 Charleston Comedy Festival

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