Christmas shopping and kids can be a volatile mix. More than likely, little Tommy and Susie don’t revel in the thought of finding a cardigan for Grandma with enough pockets for her Kleenex. But at NorthPark Center, puppeteer and neighborhood resident JOHN HARDMAN lightens the mood and entertains youngsters with his 30-year-old interactive puppet show. But watch out: Your kids may not be the only targets of his caustic humor.
Tell me a little about the show.
It’s hard to tell you about the show because it’s different every time. It’s Scrooge, sitting up in his office window commenting on what people are buying, Christmas in general, kids, et cetera from a thrifty point of view.
Where did your passion to become a puppeteer come from?
The passion came from the first puppet show I ever saw when I was 8 years old. My mom and dad took me to Ringling Brothers Circus. The sideshow was a Punch and Judy show, and I was amazed one person could do that. I started fiddling with it. I grew up in Wichita Falls where there wasn’t much to do. I raided the library and did what I could; it started as a hobby, went with me all through high school and college
Who does Scrooge mess with the most?
He loves thrifty people. He will spot a jacket or a shirt or something that delights him because these people have had it for a long time. So consequently, he makes fun of what they are wearing. But he never pokes fun at women. Because you don’t get laughs that way, you get more picking on the men.
What happens at the last show?
The last show is on Christmas Eve. Usually when the window shutter opens he’s reading Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol,’ and he calls it a ‘pack of lies.’ But then he sees the error of his ways in a few things, and he tries very hard to say ‘Merry Christmas.’ It’s very difficult for him — his face gets all scrunched up, and it takes a good two minutes to blurt it out. But then he says it again, and it’s a little easier and then he says it over and over again to everybody. But it takes him 30 days to come to that realization.
Do you have families come back to see you year after year?
Many, many, many. I’ve seen two generations. I’ve picked on kids when we began, and now I’m picking on their kids. I was walking through the mall the other day, and some 16-year-old girl grabbed hold of me and says: ‘You’re Scrooge. I’ve seen your show ever since I was 3. My dad brings us every year, and he insists on us going.’ He really gets picked on because he’s a banker, and he deliberately gets in an argument with me. She told me if I ever stopped doing this, she was going to start a petition.
Why is Scrooge so grumpy?
He had a grumpy life. Haven’t you ever read the book?
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