The mastermind, Bob Griggs-Mid 70's

The following is a transcript of an interview with Bob Griggs, conducted by Patrick Rosenkranz, for the Bumpity Returns video documentary. Summer 2001.

PR: How did you start the show?

Griggs: I was friends with one of the directors. Wayne Brown came over one day to OMSI where I was working and he said would you like to be on a television program occasionally? It's a new kid's show we have in mind. I said what are you going to call it. He said, Bumpity and I said, what a wonderful name for a kid's show. That evening after work, I went over to a discount fabric place, and there was a piece of material, green, shaggy material. I looked at that and I had this vision, and I took it home and I started working on it. I used a piece of felt for his mouth, kind of a yellow mouth, another piece of red felt that I had, I made his tongue, a couple of ping pong balls with buttons on them for eyes, and here came this little puppet. I finished him about two thirty, three o'clock in the morning. The next day I called Wayne and I said I've got a puppet for you. He came over and he took one look, and he said, that's Bumpity, that's Bumpity. So the chance to do a show for children was wonderful, and I got paid for it. Not well, but I got paid for it.

PR: Are you and Bumpity the same person?

Griggs: You kind of get a little schizophrenic in a way, because part of you is Bob, down underneath the set holding puppets in the air, but at the same time, I was looking at a little TV monitor down there because that's the only way I could tell what was going on. I was seeing what the camera saw. So I was watching Bumpity on television.

PR: So you were actually channeling for him?

Griggs: I know that they're all part of me, in one way or another. When you have that puppet there, he's the one who's talking. I'm not. I was just holding them in the air. And it was really strange too, because underneath that set, you're down there looking at a little TV set. You're holding two puppets in the air, and at the same time you're listening to answers and questions or whatever it is from your guest. You're also listening to cues in an earphone from the control room where the director's telling you you've got two more minutes. Toni would say things like, OK, on the next break, tell Bumpity to do such and such, or tell Fred to do this. The cameramen would say if they were setting up the shot, Bumpity, could you move a little more to your right, or could you move a little more to your left.

PR: What were some of the other puppets that you can compare Bumpity to?

Griggs: I first had seen some of the very early muppets, I think it was on Ed Sullivan. I suppose that helped when I saw this fuzzy green material. Somebody wrote a story about Bumpity that appeared in the paper and referred to him as a muppet. The muppet people, not Jim Hensen but their lawyer, wrote and said, absolutely not, he isn't a muppet. He's not a muppet, he's Bumpity in his own right

PR: When the television station offered the position to you, what did they offer in the way of resources?

Griggs: Very little. Basically speaking, it was however long it took, but they liked to get it done in a two hour time period. By the time I came in the set was up and they had it all lighted and all the rest of it. If there were any props that had to be made, I made my own props. They provided the crew. It was their show. At the end, they decided they were going to do another kid's show, and they put together a show called Popcorn, so they figured let's get rid of Bumpity and put Popcorn in. There was quite a fuss, people phoned in, there were letters, saying, Where's Bumpity? I suppose all good things come to an end sooner or later. When people called to say, where's Bumpity, where's Bumpity? They told them well, Bob has been doing this for a long time and he was getting tired and just wanted to retire, which was an absolute lie. They lied, and that was wrong.

PR: Is Bumpity a real entity to you?

Griggs: I don't want to sound like I've got a mental problem. I take Bumpity out of the suitcase and we can talk back and forth. That would sound strange, to carry on a conversation with yourself? No, I'm talking to Bumpity and Bumpity is talking to me. Bumpity exists. I love them all, I really do. They're like friends I've had for years and years and years.

PR: What will they do now that they are retired?

Griggs: There will be a time where I won't be here any longer and by that time I hope I've got some of the old Christmas scripts and stuff like that and I'm going to gather together one of these days, get everything all together and then perhaps donate it to the historical society or something like that.

PR: Is there a real Bumpity Park?

Griggs: Someplace in the environs of Portland Oregon there is a little patch of ground, if you know the right way to get to it, you can find it.

PR: What are the chances of a comeback?

Griggs: I'm about seven days away from being 71. If somebody gave me a chance to do the show again, I'd be in there in a New York minute. We would love to go back and do Bumpity.