Fundraiser set Tuesday night for puppeteer, poet affected by East Village explosion

More than four months after the explosion in the East Village left three buildings destroyed, an unusual band of friends is coming together to help replace some of what was lost.

Matt and Nora Brooks lived in 123 Second Ave., one of the buildings leveled by a gas explosion on March 26.

Matt, a puppet builder for the Jim Henson Company, and Nora, a writer studying for her MFA in poetry at the New School, lost everything save “the clothes on their back,” said friend Craig Mingus. So some friends are throwing them a puppet show Tuesday.

“It’s called a puppet slam,” said Mingus, one of the organizers. At $40 a ticket, “The main goal is to raise awareness of what happened, to have it be a ‘pay it forward’ moment. Matt and Nora have given so much to the world, we want to give back.”

Matt, who has worked on puppet stages from “Muppet Treasure Island” to “Elmo’s Adventures in Grouchland,” lost 75% of his equipment, which included powertools, cameras and one-of-a-kind puppets, according to Mingus. Nora, whose work has appeared on the “Best American Poetry” blog, lost a good amount of her manuscript and research for her graduate studies.

“We found out how tough it is when you only have what’s left in your pocket and you even have to prove that it’s you to the government, without your ID,” Mingus said. “Its eye-opening when you don’t have any of the basics. That was one of those moments when you realize you have no idea how tough it can be.”

Hoping to raise $3,500, the “puppet variety show” will bring over a dozen volunteer puppeteers to the Connelly Theater in the East Village, the use of which was also donated for the event, for a night of 18-and-over antics. All of the proceeds will go to the couple to help build back what they’ve lost.

“They all really rallied for the cause,” Mingus said. The show, which will be held at 8 p.m., features artists including Emmy-nominated “Sesame Street” performer Noel Macneal and the Muppets’ Pam Arciero, as well as James Wojtal Jr. and James Godwin, and will end with raffles of “swag” from the John Oliver’s show, the Museum of The Moving Image and Carnegie Hall.

The Brookses were not made available for comment, but Mingus said they were “extremely grateful for everything.”

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