Apr 18, 2012
Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Uncle Traveling Matt
Fraggle Rock Episode 101: "Beginnings" (1983)
Most recent appearance...
A Muppet Family Christmas (1987)
Appeared in Jim Henson's Fantastic World at Carnegie Hall (April 2012)
Best known role...
Fraggle explorer of "Outer Space"; Gobo Fraggle's uncle; postcard sender
"Dear nephew Gobo, The other daaaaaaaaaaaay..."
WHO IS UNCLE TRAVELING MATT?
Gobo Fraggle's Uncle Traveling Matt is one of the most prominent characters in Fraggle Rock. He is a well-traveled, clumsy explorer who was the Fraggle to discover the Gorg's Garden and the first Fraggle to explore "Outer Space," the world of the Silly Creatures.
Most of Uncle Matt's moments on Fraggle Rock came through his weekly postcard to his nephew Gobo. The postcards were sent to Doc's workshop and had to be retrieved by Gobo in order to have any communication with Traveling Matt. Matt's postcards explained his encounters with the Silly Creatures in hilariously inaccurate detail. Traveling Matt recounted his experiences with roller coasters, cotton candy, subways, drive-in movies, cows, and numerous other Silly Creature things.
Traveling Matt's postcards, however inept Matt himself may seem, usually offered advice that assisted Gobo in his day-to-day activity. The postcards sent by Uncle Matt were always a major plot point in any episode as Gobo and the other Fraggles paused to read and reflect. Most of the Fraggles were elated by this, but Red Fraggle always met Gobo's cry of "I just got another postcard from my Uncle Traveling Matt!" with rolling eyes.
Matt's childhood and past were revealed in Episode 315: "Born to Wander," as told through the Storyteller Fraggle. Matt was raised by his Uncle Gobo, also a famous, more competent explorer. It was Matt's dream to be a successful explorer like his uncle (sound familiar yet?) so he set out to prove himself. He truly does so, as he accidentally discovers the Gorg's Garden and radishes, which became the new food staple for the Fraggles.
In Episode 205: "Uncle Matt Comes Home," Traveling Matt returned to Fraggle Rock for a brief period. His vacation was short, however, and by the end of the episode he was back to exploring Outer Space again. In the final season of Fraggle Rock, in Episode 404: "Uncle Matt's Discovery," Traveling Matt returned to Fraggle Rock permanently. Although he did make a few scant trips back to Outer Space, most of Matt's stories were told through oral retelling rather than postcards from that point on.
As the only Fraggle to venture into Outer Space, Uncle Traveling Matt was one of the only characters from Fraggle Rock to appear outside the show itself. He appeared at the wedding of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy in The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) and was joined by Sprocket at The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years (1986). It wasn't until A Muppet Family Christmas (1987) that other Fraggles besides Matt appeared outside the show.
Recently, Traveling Matt has appeared a handful of times in random appearances. In 2011, he was used in a promotional image for Native Springs shoe company. Later that year, Dave Goelz performed Matt for the first time in years at the Amphibian Alumnus Reunion event for past and present employees of The Jim Henson Company. Uncle Traveling Matt's most recent appearance was at Jim Henson's Musical World (April 2012), a stage show at Carnegie Hall in New York City where Matt appeared with Red and Wembley Fraggle, showcasing the wonders of "Carnegie Cave."
UNCLE TRAVELING MATT POSTCARDS
A postcard from Uncle Traveling Matt was read by Gobo or the other Fraggles in nearly every episode of Fraggle Rock. Here are a few favorite snapshots from Uncle Matt's postcards:
Uncle Traveling Matt is one of the most important characters on Fraggle Rock. He provides an unprecedented connection to the world outside. Although most of his explorations seem trivial or ridiculous, Traveling Matt is still giving the Fraggles a connection they wouldn't have otherwise. Uncle Matt provides details and information about a new culture, a new world, showing how the Silly Creatures of Outer Space are similar to the Fraggles. This message of "we're all the same" is the main message of Fraggle Rock as well.
Plus, Uncle Traveling Matt is absolutely hilarious. Now, please enjoy this picture of Traveling Matt on a German talk show...
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org