Noel MacNeal (b. September 15, 1961) is a performer who has worked on several Henson productions since the 1980s. Born and raised in New York City's Central Harlem, he began his career as a puppeteer on the television series The Great Space Coaster (taking over from John Lovelady as Knock Knock) and later made his way to Sesame Street, joining the show in 1982 as a "puppet wrangler." His most well-known work has been in his portrayal of Bear, the lead character in Bear in the Big Blue House in 1997. During his time on the show, he served as principal performer, director, and wrote a few episodes. In 2005, he reprised the role for Breakfast with Bear.
The first Muppet he performed was a store clerk in a sketch for Sesame Street; he had one line, to tell Grover that his register was closed and to go to another line, which he flubbed. Other characters have included the full-bodied Mommy Snuffleupagus and various Snuffleupagus relatives on Sesame Street (including Daddy Snuffle from the unaired Snuffy's Parents Get a Divorce), as well as Madame Chairbird in Follow That Bird. He also doubled for Caroll Spinney puppeteering Big Bird in a scene when he's running from Bert and Ernie's plane. Years later, he puppeteered Big Bird again in the 2010 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. In addition to performing, he has played an active role in hiring and training puppeteers for local Sesame Street productions in Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Jordan, Palestine, and India.
His more prominent non-Henson credits include the baby dragon Magellan on Eureeka's Castle, Leon MacNeal in Puzzle Place, and Raphael in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III. He also puppeteered on Between the Lions (filling in as Lionel for season 9), Blue's Room, Oobi (Kako), MacNeal spent a stint as host (and writer) for Sprout's The Good Night Show and has puppeteered on more adult series including 30 Rock, Oz, Chappelle's Show (in the "Knee High Park" spoof of Sesame Street), and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. He is the resident puppeteer for Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. As a writer, he contributed scripts to Puzzle Place, Eureeka's Castle, Gullah Gullah Island, The Magic School Bus, and Cyberchase.
MacNeal is sometimes incorrectly credited as "Noel McNeal".
- Sesame Street: Arnold Schnuffleupanegger, Mommy Snuffleupagus, Cow who Jumped over the Moon (Episode 4079), Gretel, Rosalyn (assistant), Tommy Wilson, Uncle Abe, Daddy Snuffle
- Follow That Bird: Madame Chairbird
- Little Muppet Monsters: Rat, Magic Book
- The Cosby Show ("Cliff's Nightmare"): Cheese
- Sing Yourself Silly!: Additional Muppet Performer
- A New Baby in My House
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late
- Sesame Street Jam: A Musical Celebration
- Dog City: Doctor, Police Officer
- Muppet Meeting Films: Pastry and Injured Employee in "Top Ten Reasons to Take a Break"
- City Kids
- Elmo Saves Christmas
- Telling the Truth: Sheep
- Lead Away!
- Bear in the Big Blue House: Bear, Moss, Billy
- Sing Yourself Sillier at the Movies: Announcer
- Elmo's Musical Adventure: Peter and the Wolf: The Wolf
- Elmopalooza: Additional Muppet Performer
- Let's Eat!: Funny Food Songs: Spoon
- Moving Together: Himself (with son Mattie and other adult/baby pairs in live-action scenes)
- Elmo's Christmas Countdown
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa: Sweetums (credited as Edward Noel MacNeal)
- Old Dogs (credited as Edward Noel MacNeal)
- Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade
- 2010: Big Bird (puppetry only)
- Julie's Greenroom
- The Muppets Take the Bowl: Sweetums (puppetry only)
- The Muppets Take the O2
- Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration: Letter C
- Bear in the Big Blue House: Episode 206: You Learn Something New Every Day
- Bear in the Big Blue House: Episode 235: And to All a Good Night
- Bear in the Big Blue House: Episode 314: Wait for Me
- Bear in the Big Blue House: Episode 410: At the Old Bear Game
- Bear in the Big Blue House: Come on In
- Consultant: Hikayat Simsim (Jordan), Hikayat Simsim (Palestine), Galli Galli Sim Sim
- Bear in the Big Blue House: Episode 420: Volunteers of Woodland Valley
- Sesame Street: The Wheels on the Fire Truck web video