Matt Vogel (b. October 6, 1970) is an accomplished puppeteer who joined the Sesame Street troupe in 1996. He later joined The Muppets family of characters, inheriting several roles while working with Jerry Nelson, and was cast as Kermit the Frog in 2017.
Vogel first auditioned for The Jim Henson Company in his final year of college (c. 1993), but didn't begin performing with the company until a year later when he became John Henson's understudy for the Coca-Cola Polar Bear.
On Sesame Street, Vogel started out as most Muppeteers do, right-handing for other characters; in his case, for David Rudman on Baby Bear. He eventually became Caroll Spinney's understudy for Big Bird whenever Spinney was unavailable. Beginning in 2002, he exclusively performed Big Bird for "Journey to Ernie", a regular Sesame Street segment. He also played Big Bird's infant self Baby Big Bird in the Sesame Beginnings DVD series. Vogel transitioned to regularly performing Big Bird with Spinney's retirement in 2018.
Over time, Vogel has accumulated his own recurring characters, including Herb the dinosaur and Hansel (of Hansel and Gretel fame). He is currently Sesame Street’s Muppet Captain and has been as a series director since Season 39.
Vogel has also assumed some of Jerry Nelson's roles, by the recommendation of Nelson himself. In addition to performing classic characters such as Floyd Pepper and Lew Zealand in Muppet productions, Vogel puppeteered Count von Count and other characters Nelson voiced on Sesame Street. After Nelson's death, Vogel fully inherited the Count, now providing both the voice and puppetry. Vogel also performs Mr. Johnson, another character Nelson originated.
His early Muppet credits include assisting or supporting roles on Big Bag, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Sesame English. Work outside the Henson fold include the video series MATHmatazz, Jack's Big Music Show, The Puzzle Place, the HBO drama Oz (as Pecky in the TV clips of Miss Sally's Schoolyard), Oobi, Blue's Room, and Between the Lions, as well as puppeteering Fred in the video project Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map. On the big screen, Vogel has appeared in The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, The Muppets, Muppets Most Wanted (where he took on the major role of Constantine), the Creature Shop film The Producers (as various pigeons), one of the "Muppet" characters in Old Dogs, and the voice of Wilkins in Alice Through the Looking Glass for director James Bobin.
In theater, Vogel has acted in regional productions of various plays, including The Foreigner and Six Degrees of Sparation, and was involved in the 2003-2004 Broadway run of Little Shop of Horrors, manipulating Audrey II and playing various bums and Skid Row residents (alongside Martin P. Robinson and Anthony Asbury).
In addition to puppeteering, Vogel's interest in music is evident as front man for the The Mighty Weaklings. The band released a CD of songs "for kids--and grown-ups" called You Can't Rock Sittin' Down in June of 2008 after appearing in the video for their song "Rocket Ship" on Jack's Big Music Show. With Joey Mazzarino, Vogel co-owns Pratfall Productions, which produced the film-noir puppet short film Murder, He Squeaked as well as various videos and inserts for Sesame Street, and Nick Jr.'s Curious Buddies.
On July 10, 2017, it was announced that Vogel had been cast as the new performer of Kermit the Frog, following Steve Whitmire's departure from The Muppets. Vogel's first public performance as Kermit was a Muppet Thought of the Week video; originally planned to debut on YouTube during the week of July 17, 2017, but was delayed until August 28, 2017.
- Muppets Characters: Floyd Pepper, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry (2008 - present), Robin the Frog (2008 - 2017), Camilla (2008 - present); Sweetums, Dr. Julius Strangepork (2009 - present); Pops, Uncle Deadly (2011 - present); '80s Robot, Constantine, Kermit the Frog (2017 - present)
- Sesame Street: Big Bird (1997 - present), Count von Count (assistant and puppeteer only, through 2012; 2013-present), Herb, Hansel, Tiger, Anderson Cucumber, Yellow Ball (3714), Professor Gary Gill, Pino, Letter of the Day Announcer, Duck Clark, Maurice Pig (4095), Gardener, Gassy (Dwarf #3), David Letterguy, Rapunzel's Prince (4128), Howie Eatswell, Ant (4147), Megan (Are You Smarter Than an Egg Layer?), Wyoming Walt, Mr. Johnson (2014-present), the guinea pig (Pre-School Musical), Mr. Yak, The Super Foods banana, Hubert the Human Cannonball, Baby Bear (assistant), Ernie (assistant, 2000-2003), Forgetful Jones (Kinect Sesame Street TV)
- "Don't Forget to Watch the Movie"
- Big Bag
- Big Bird Gets Lost
- Telling the Truth: Additional Puppeteer
- Elmo Saves Christmas
- Bear in the Big Blue House
- Sesame Street Goes to the Doctor: Hoarse Horse
- A Brief History of Motion Pictures
- The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland
- Play with Me Sesame: Ernie (assistant)
- Muppet RaceMania: Scooter, Janice (voices)
- Elmo's Magic Cookbook: Glass of Water
- Music Works Wonders
- Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic
- A Celebration of Me, Grover
- Sesame Beginnings: Baby Big Bird
- The Producers: Pigeons
- Kids' Favorite Country Songs: Elmer
- Elmo's Christmas Countdown: Stiller the Elf (puppetry only)
- Studio DC: Almost Live!
- Muppet viral videos
- Abby in Wonderland
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa: Floyd Pepper, Pigeons (son), Crazy Harry, Camilla the Chicken, Lew Zealand, Robin the Frog
- Here for You: Chester's Dad
- Coming Home
- Families Stand Together
- The Muppets: Floyd Pepper, Camilla, Sweetums, '80s Robot, Lew Zealand, Uncle Deadly, Crazy Harry, Rowlf Moopet, Janice Moopet, Singing Food in "Me Party"
- Monstruos Supersanos: Dr. Ruster
- Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration: Alex
- Muppets Most Wanted: Constantine, Floyd Pepper, Sweetums, Pops, Robin, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, '80s Robot, Camilla, Uncle Deadly, Baby
- The Cookie Thief: Little Cookie
- The Muppets 2015 Presentation Pilot: Floyd Pepper, Robin
- The Muppets: Floyd Pepper, Sweetums, Uncle Deadly, Robin, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Camilla, Snowth
- The Furchester Hotel: Big Bird, Count Von Count
- The Muppets Take the Bowl: Kermit the Frog, Uncle Deadly, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Camilla, Dr. Julius Strangepork, Snowth, Sweetums
- The Muppets Take the O2: Kermit the Frog, Uncle Deadly, Sgt. Floyd Pepper, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Camilla, Dr. Julius Strangepork, Snowth, Sweetums
- When Matt Vogel was introduced to Spinney at his first audition for the part of Big Bird, the latter remarked, "Vogel is German for Bird. That's a good sign." The word "vogel" is Dutch for bird as well.
- The protective slippers Vogel wears over Big Bird's feet when he's not on set are labeled, respectively, "Vogel" and "Füsse," meaning "bird" and "feet," or read together "bird's feet."
Performances as Big Bird
Vogel holds the distinction of being one of very few Muppeteers who perform a character in conjunction with another performer. Beginning as an understudy for Caroll Spinney, and becoming Big Bird's primary performer in Journey to Ernie segments, the following episodes, sketches, and appearances comprise instances in which Vogel has performed Big Bird despite Spinney also continuing with the character. For a full list of known times Vogel provided Big Bird's voice before he became his primary performer, see the list of Caroll Spinney character transitions:
- Instances where Vogel performs Big Bird to Spinney's voice (prior to season 46)
- Episode 3790: In scenes that feature Oscar in the same shot.
- Episode 3831: In Scene 7, where Oscar and Big Bird appear together.
- Episode 3838: In Scene 5, when Oscar and Big Bird are in Hooper's Store.
- Episode 3845: Vogel briefly performs Big Bird in Scene 1, in the first flashback where Fluffy is tap dancing in Oscar's can. After Fluffy returns inside Oscar's can, Spinney takes over. Vogel later performs the bird during "Great Big Beautiful World."
- Episode 3851: In Scene 3, Vogel briefly performs Big Bird as he and Elmo practice the tango.
- Episode 3863: In Scene 3, when Oscar declines attending Big Bird's show-and-tell, Vogel performs Big Bird.
- Episode 3997: Spinney performs Big Bird for Scene 1 and parts of Scene 2, but because the storyline is mainly about Oscar, Vogel performs Big Bird in other instances where he and Oscar share a scene.
- Episode 4039: Vogel performs Big Bird to a vocal track in a scene where he visits the Mail It Shop, and again in the closing scene.
- Episode 4109: Vogel performs Big Bird during the song "Everyone Needs a Friend" to Spinney's vocals.
- Episode 4187: Vogel performs Big Bird to Spinney's vocals in chroma key sequences and in the final musical number "This is My Home."
- Episode 4203
- Episode 4206: Vogel performs Big Bird in a brief shot showing the aftermath of his crash, where he is wedged inside the low wall in front of 123 Sesame Street.
- Episode 4266: In scenes where Big Bird and Oscar appear in the same shot.
- Episode 4512: Vogel performs Big Bird for the entire street story, while Spinney provides the voice.
- Vogel puppeteers Big Bird for the songs "What I Am," "Elmo's Got the Moves," and "That's Cooperation."
- Elmo's Christmas Countdown: In the song "I Want a Snuffleupagus for Christmas", Vogel performs Big Bird to Spinney's voice during the song, but also does the speaking voice for him as well
- Two bumpers where Big Bird and Snuffy introduce the letter of the day and an alphabet segment.
- Instances where Vogel fully performs Big Bird (prior to season 48)
- Episode 3833
- Episode 3877
- Episode 3907
- Episode 3972
- Episode 3987
- Episode 4028: Vogel performs Big Bird in street scenes, but lip-syncs to Spinney's prerecorded vocals for "Rub Your Tummy."
- Episode 4074
- Episode 4075
- Episode 4107 and Episode 4108: The Adventures of Little Big Bird (mini Big Bird only)
- Episode 4130: Vogel performs Big Bird during "It Takes a Street."
- Episode 4155: Vogel performs Big Bird for his cameo at the beginning.
- Episode 4503: Vogel performs Big Bird at the end of the street story after the grownups sing "The Color of Me."
- A sketch where Big Bird explains to Elmo that plants can't play catch
- A sketch where Big Bird watches Elmo show up and down
- A segment where Big Bird and Snuffy present the Spanish Word of the Day: teléfono (telephone) (First: Episode 3992)
- "Smarter, Stronger, Kinder"
- The Street We Live On: In the intro to Journey to Ernie
- The Christmas with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concerts
- Multiple Vines, and promotional videos, such as Big Bird working for Funny or Die.
- Chrysler commercials.
- ↑ Matt Vogel on Facebook September 10, 2015
- ↑ Tough Pigs "Interview: Sesame Street's Matt Vogel" by Ryan Roe, August 8, 2008
- ↑ Matt Vogel on Twitter Sept 20, 2018
- ↑ Tough Pigs "A Chat with Jerry Nelson" by Joe Hennes, December 8, 2009
- ↑ ToughPigs "Steve Whitmire No Longer with the Muppets" by Joe Hennes, July 10, 2017