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April 19, 2014

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Henson Co. presents a new kind of presidential candidate … a puppet from Nevada

Image

The Jim Henson Co.

Marvin E. Quasniki, a “turquoise farmer from Tonopah” and a Henson Co. puppet, is running for president.

Sun's interview with Quasniki (excerpts)

Marvin E. Quasniki, a "turquoise farmer from Tonopah" and a Henson Co. puppet, is running for president. Click here to view a longer version of this interview.

A president from Nevada has to be a joke, right?

Yeah, but it’s a pretty funny one.

Marvin E. Quasniki — "a turquoise farmer from Tonopah" — came on the political scene about a month ago with a sales pitch to America based on "good old-fashioned quick fixes and oversimplified proposals."

The fast-talking, fuzzy puppet with a Walter Matthau-esque, grumpy-old-man quality has a pedigree that doesn’t just stretch back through generations of turquoise farmers (just like turquoise miners, apparently, except they farm); he comes from the finest stock of puppet lineage. Quasniki is a product of the Jim Henson Company’s “Henson Alternative” division, which creates and markets more adult-themed characters than the Elmo, Ernie, Bert and Muppets (who were sold to Disney in 2004) that are part of the family entertainment mainstream.

Since Quasniki first appeared in December, the Henson company has taken his “no bull(expletive)” campaign to the Iowa caucuses, recorded about a dozen video spots that do everything from insert Quasniki into Republican debates to follow him through person-on-the-street encounters and town-hall meetings (though Quasniki refers to a town hall as a "thing").

A swearing puppet poking fun at political discourse is not new territory for the Henson company (Remember Sam the Eagle?) But a politician is. Sam never ran for office.

The idea of a puppet candidate for president had been spinning around the Jim Henson Company for a while before the opportunity to partner with YouTube for a series of videos that have started to go viral. The company has used that platform to keep Quasniki up to the minute with sharp-witted responses to political developments.

Still, it’s a tough season for any upstart candidate to make a run — even those who have legs — at the presidency.

Quasniki is not actually on the ballot anywhere — though several fans have threatened to write in his name — and so far he’s had some difficulty getting the other candidates to acknowledge his existence. Nonetheless, Quasniki has committed, through op-eds in various national news outlets, not to drop out of the race any time soon.

While Quasniki may not have much of a chance of winning here or anywhere else, he’s certainly a convincing package: His simple but feisty libertarian leanings are a perfect reflection of a quintessential rural Nevadan. It’s no accident either: The puppeteer behind — or below — Quasniki is a Las Vegas Valley native who passed through Tonopah several times growing up, according to the company, which declined to provide any more information about him.

Quasniki also has an itinerary for the Nevada caucuses that he laid out for the Sun: First he’ll campaign in Las Vegas, where he’ll stay at the Dunes hotel; then in Reno; then in Searchlight, but not when Sen. Harry Reid is there — Quasniki says they’re feuding over land. Finally, he’ll head to Henderson and the Boulder Dam, where he plans to sell churros and T-shirts to “fun-raise” with voters and supporters.

He’s still got a long way to go to get from Nevada to Washington, D.C. But even if Quasniki misses at the White House, don’t expect this is the last you’ll see of him: Quasniki for President is one of the headline features on a new YouTube channel the Jim Henson Company is launching with Broadway Video, Geek Chic Daily and Nerdist Industries in April.

An archive of Quasniki's videos can be found at youtube.com/nerdist.

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  1. He's got my vote.

  2. Can't do any worse than the last two!

  3. A better choice! Instead of a puppet from Illinois or Texas or Arkansas.

  4. Passing through Tonopah a couple of times when you were a kid doesn't qualify you to be a turquoise farmer.

  5. At least you know up front that someone is already pulling his strings.