Matt Vogel (b. October 6, 1970) is an accomplished puppeteer who joined the Sesame Street troupe in 1996. He is currently the show's Muppet Captain and has assumed some of Jerry Nelson's roles, by the recommendation of Nelson himself. In addition to performing classic Muppet characters such as Floyd Pepper and Lew Zealand in recent productions, Vogel has puppeteered Count von Count and other Sesame Street Muppets originated by Nelson, who continued to voice the characters for several years. After Nelson's death, Vogel fully inherited the Count, now providing both the voice and puppetry.
Vogel is also known for his work as Caroll Spinney's understudy for Big Bird, including the "Journey to Ernie" segments, several street scenes and other appearances whenever Spinney is unavailable. He also played Big Bird's infant self, Baby Big Bird in the Sesame Beginnings DVD series. Overtime, Vogel has also accumulated his own recurring characters on Sesame Street, including Herb the dinosaur and Hansel.
Vogel's early Muppet credits include work, assisting or in supporting roles, on Big Bag, Bear in the Big Blue House, Sesame English, and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, as well as various pigeons in the Creature Shop film The Producers. Works outside the Henson fold include the video series MATHmatazz, Jack's Big Music Show, The Puzzle Place, the HBO drama Oz, Oobi, Blue's Room, and Between the Lions.
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 made evident by his non-Sesame role as front man for the band, The Mighty Weaklings 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 spoof Murder, He Squeaked and various inserts for Sesame Street, "Sesame Street" videos and Nick Jr.'s Curious Buddies. Vogel also serves as director for Sesame Street beginning with Season 39 and the recurring segment, "Murray Has a Little Lamb."
Performances as Big Bird
In addition to the Journey to Ernie segments, Matt has also played Big Bird in many scenes and segments including:
- 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)
- Episode 3790: One of the earliest instances of Vogel performing Big Bird, to a vocal track by Caroll Spinney, beginning when Oscar appears partway into the episode.
- Episode 3831: Whenever Oscar and Big Bird both appear together, Vogel is manipulating the Bird, at one point lipsyncing to a vocal track by Spinney.
- Episode 3851: For the scene where the Bird and Elmo practice the tango, Vogel is puppeteering Big Bird
- Episode 3877
- Episode 3907
- Episode 3987
- Episode 3997: In the first street scene and for the parts of the second where Big Bird and Oscar do not share a scene, the Bird is played by Spinney. However, because the second scene is mainly about Oscar, when the two share a scene, Spinney is Oscar, and Vogel is inside the Bird, to a vocal track
- Episode 4028: Big Bird and Bob sing Rub Your Tummy with a group of kids.
- Episode 4074
- Episode 4075
- Episode 4107 and Episode 4108: The Adventures of Little Big Bird (mini Big Bird only)
- Episode 4109: Vogel puppeteers the Bird during the song "Everyone Needs a Friend," to Spinney's vocals.
- Episode 4155: Vogel performs Big Bird (voice and puppetry) for his cameo at the beginning.
- Episode 4187: Vogel played the Bird during the green-screen scenes to a vocal track by Spinney
- Episode 4203: Vogel played the Bird to a vocal track by Spinney
- Episode 4206: In the brief moment where we see Big Bird's actual crash when he is wedged inside the little wall in front of 123 Sesame Street, Vogel is the bird
- The Street We Live On: in the intro to "Journey to Ernie"
- In "What I Am," and "Elmo's Got the Moves," Vogel puppeteers the Bird to Spinney's voice.
- Muppets Characters: Floyd Pepper, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Robin the Frog, Camilla (2008 - present); Sweetums (2009 - ), Uncle Deadly (2011), '80s Robot
- Sesame Street: Big Bird (understudy), 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, the guinea pig (Pre-School Musical), Mr. Yak, The Super Foods banana, Hubert the Human Cannonball, Baby Bear (assistant), Ernie (assistant, 2000-2003)
- "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
- Here for You: Chester's Dad
- Coming Home
- Families Stand Together
- The Muppets: Rowlf Moopet, Janice Moopet, Singing Food in "Me Party"
- Monstruos Supersanos: Dr. Ruster
- Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration: Alex
- Muppets Most Wanted: Constantine
- Oz - Pecky
- Between the Lions - Rumplestiltskin, Derek Cheetah, Monkey Ad Executive (Jeff Kidding), various characters
- Jack's Big Music Show - Leonard the Squirrel, MC Turtle, The Squirrels, etc.
- Scooby-Doo! Adventures: The Mystery Map - Fred Jones (Frank Welker served as Fred's voice)
- 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."