1 of 5 | Left to right, Gerald Teeth Sr., Dr. Gerald Teeth Jr. and Dr. Teena Teeth in a scene from "Muppets Mayhem." Photo courtesy of Disney+
NEW YORK, June 9 (UPI) -- Waffles + Mochi alum David Bizzaro says he got the job playing Dr. Teeth's dental hygienist father, Gerald, on The Muppets Mayhem just as he and his wife became first-time parents in real life.
"Joining the Muppets universe is something that I never thought would happen," Bizzaro told UPI in a recent phone interview, explaining there haven't been a lot of recent opportunities for puppeteers to play new speaking characters in the franchise.
"For an opportunity like this to come out is really rare," he said.
The Emmy Award-winning puppeteer plays the quiet, but supportive husband of Dr. Tina Teeth, played by Stephanie D'Abruzzo, and loving father of Gerald Jr. (Bill Barretta), leader of the beloved rock band Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
As Bizzaro's son was just an infant when he got the offer, he didn't want to leave him and his wife to go off to work.
"He was alive for three months and then I went and shot [the show] in Los Angeles for three weeks. It was a huge adjustment," he said.
"It was one of those things where [my wife] said: 'You have to go! It's such a rare opportunity... You go and I'll be fine.' So, I went. It was very stressful, but still very fun and amazing. Stressful being away from my wife. Working with the Muppets was just a dream."
When Bizzaro showed up to film, he found a positive and collaborative environment.
"Besides Sesame Street, it is the kindest set to work on, especially with all the stress we have going on where people are not being appreciated financially and emotionally in our industry, it was really kind of shocking to see how well taken care of everybody from crew to cast was," he said.
Now streaming on Disney+, The Muppets Mayhem follows Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, who have stolen scenes in countless Muppets shows and movies over the course of nearly half a century.
Lilly Singh and Tahj Mowery play Nora and Moog, the humans trying to help them record and promote their first album.
"The show is really special because they are taking a focus on a group of characters that have been in the background for a long time," Bizzaro said.
"Most of the focus has always been on what are Miss Piggy and Kermit doing? And what is their relationship? That can get kind of tired over time, so it's nice that they are taking time to tell a bigger story."
Bizzaro describes Gerald Sr. as a "wonderful dad."
He took the character seriously and tried to add a lot of detail to make him seem as authentic as possible.
"I knew he was from New Orleans and that he was a man of few words. I had one little paragraph that Disney gave me about this character," he said. "I thought, 'This is great because this is an opportunity for me to flesh out who he is.'"
He then let his imagination run wild, deciding for himself how Gerald and Tina met, and how his laid-back personality impacted his son and vice versa.
"On set, there was just a lot of stuff coming out. Gerald always has a little camera with him," Bizzaro said. "One thing he loves to do is take photographs of a well-manicured lawn and that was my thing for him that I thought was really fun."
For years, Tina has tried to get her son to give up music and come take over the family dentistry business, while Gerald does his best to stay out of the fray.
He finally takes a stand and tells his wife to let their adult child do what he wants when he realizes how much music means to Dr. Teeth.
"The show is about each of these characters discovering who they are and what their purpose is in their own journey," Bizzaro said.
"I'm finding out as a parent, you can't control your child. You can just hope for the best for them and hope that you instill in them the best knowledge and ability to take care of himself and that's all Tina and Gerald want for their son," he added. "They just thought this was the best method -- to give him [their] business."
Seeing Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem rock the stage at Cavity Con, Gerald and Tina realize dentistry is not their son's passion.
"Once they saw him perform, they knew, this is really making our child happy and this is who this person is and we haven't known all this time," Bizzaro said. "I think that resonates with everyone."
The puppeteer can't wait to share his Muppets Mayhem experience with his real son when he is old enough to understand.
"I'm having all the feelings. A week before the show came out, my son turned 1 and has been transitioning into being a toddler," he said. "There have been a lot of feelings in this household. It's been great."