Brian Muehl (pronounced "meal"; also credited as Brian Meehl and Brian Wolfe) is a puppeteer and writer who began his Muppet career on Sesame Street. Trained as a mime, Muehl had been a member of Mummenschanz as an interpreter for Andres Bossard. From there, he was cast on Sesame Street as Barkley the Dog (taking over from Toby Towson), and he initially joined the Henson Company exclusively as a body puppeteer. He soon transitioned to performing more Muppet characters on the Street, including Telly Monster, Grundgetta, Dr. Nobel Price, and, in some of his earliest appearances, Elmo. Muehl also performed in several episodes during the last season of The Muppet Show, assisting the principal puppeteers and playing small roles. Muehl also performed multiple roles on The Dark Crystal (and along with Steve Whitmire, was one of only two puppeteers to both perform and voice a character).
In 1984, Muehl left the Muppets for reasons he later articulated in a Random House bio:
“The downside of long hours in film and TV studios is all the downtime. Besides growing restless, I had a wife and two young daughters I was seeing too little of. So I traded life in front of the camera for life behind it. I became a children’s television writer.”
Changing his name to Meehl, to reflect the pronunciation, the puppeteer began churning out scripts for Eureeka's Castle, PBS series Eyewitness, The Magic School Bus, Between the Lions, Cyberchase, and Codename: Kids Next Door. He did return to the Muppets sporadically in the 1990s, notably as a regular on Dog City and several episodes of Sesame Street during season 25 (including Episode 3145, 3158, 3204, and 3261). He later made an on-screen cameo as "Ramp Guy" in episode 3319 the following season, and as a balloon salesman in episode 3634 two seasons later. He also wrote a pair of episodes for Sesame English, "A Zoo for Jenny" and "Tingo Hears a Noise."
In 2006, he published his first young adult novel, Out of Patience, which examines such issues as baseball and toilets in small-town Kansas. In 2008, he published his second, Suck It Up, a vampire comedy which contains a brief mention of his former character Elmo.
Muppet/Creature Shop Credits
- Sesame Street (seasons 10-15): Barkley (1979-1984), Bushman Bill, Captain Breakfast, Charles the Robot, Clancy (in "Near Far Monsters"), Clementine (1980-1984), Countess Dahling von Dahling, Elmo (1980-1984), Gilbert (1980), Grundgetta (1980-1984), Honkers, Hot Pink boy in "Big Kids Cry", Lothar the Grouch, Malcolm, Manny, Dr. Nobel Price (1980-1984), Othmar the Grouch, Pearl, Prince Ted, P. T. Bunkum, Rusty, Samantha the Eel, The Shark ("Pearl White Teeth"), Taxi Driver McGillicuddy, Telly Monster (1980-1984), Whatshisname
- John Denver & the Muppets: A Christmas Together
- The Muppet Show: various (1980-1981)
- The Muppets Go to the Movies
- The Great Muppet Caper
- The Dark Crystal: urSu, SkekEkt, urZah (latter puppeteer only)
- Big Bird in China: Barkley, Telly Monster
- Don't Eat the Pictures: Telly Monster
- The Muppets Take Manhattan: Tatooey Rat, Dog
- Big Bird in Japan: Barkley
- The Jim Henson Hour: The Song of the Cloud Forest
- Dog City: Bruno
- Muppet CD-ROM: The Muppets Inside (archival footage)
- The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: Binkham Tamino McDoyal the Third