With two hands and a passion for video games, Bennyfits is just like every other streamer on Twitch — except for the fact that he's a two-foot-tall puppet with blue fur. Even with that disadvantage, he's just as skilled at twitchy first-person shooters like Overwatch as any other regular-sized, fur-less streamer.
Bennyfits, and the man behind the cookie-monster-looking puppet, is part-streamer, part-puppeteer, and part-performer all wrapped up in one package. He plays games like Monster Hunter and Skyrim with one hand while moving the puppet's mouth with the other. This unique approach to streaming helps him stand out on a service that’s severely lacking in puppet representation.
"It's all a one-man show — the easy way to put it is that I'm just very good at playing games with one hand," Bennyfits said. "It's extremely physically demanding to play and stream this way and stay off camera while playing with one hand. I have to learn to convey everything as a puppet."
Bennyfits, who preferred to keep his real name anonymous to keep the mystery of his stream intact, started out with a scripted YouTube channel meant help the puppeteer connect with his daughter.
"My daughter was watching stuff like Good Mythical Morning, things I wouldn't call children's programming, and I thought it would be great to create something that I could engage her with," Bennyfits said. "Then the idea of a Muppet just came to me one random day after watching my wife stream almost three years ago."
"Then I kind of created and tested Benny's personality by having little conversations with my daughter," he added. "She was young enough to give a response and I would think — oh you like this? It helped shaped Benny."
The goal of his channel, as Bennyfits puppeteer puts it, is to inspire players to reflect on some of their more hostile online habits while providing entertainment suited for viewers of all ages. He believes that comedy is the key to achieving both goals, helping people get through the day by providing a stress-free environment devoid of heating gaming moments.
"I wanted to build a place where games are for everyone, it's what I've done since the beginning. Although I'm not sure how well I've done over the past few years since I'm still trying to get there," Bennyfits said. "One of the things I noticed is how angry some streamers can get when they lose. That often leads to them putting down other players who may not know the ins and outs of the game."
"There are times where your playing and things don't go well and it's always somebody else's fault," he added. "Very few people actually take some time to look at themselves in those moments to see that they're actually causing harm."
Bennyfits tries to lead by example, creating a fun environment to play in rather than confronting angry teammates online (though if you tell him he sucks, he will come back to snag a clutch "play of the game" as Genji in Overwatch). A huge part of creating that fun environment is about performing through the puppet. While the hands inside Bennyfits have some performance experience in college theater, this is his first serious foray into creating a regular comedy show.
"Anytime you hear Benny laughing it's usually my laugh, sometimes you'll hear a slight break at the top of the laugh before I go back to being Benny," Bennyfits said. "I live for those funny moments in the stream, when the audience gets it."
Those moments can be anything from Benny belting out the Jurassic Park theme during the opening hours of Monster Hunter World to him imitating a WWE match up while trudging through the wilderness in Skyrim. It's nothing wild when you look at it on its own, but it's quite impressive when you consider he's managing the stream, performing the part of Benny, and playing at a competent level with one hand all at the same time.
While a lot of the Benny character may be aimed at a younger audience, Bennyfits tries to mix some adult humor in as well.
"Benny uses a lot of double entendre with some adult humor that kids probably won't get. It's like when Shrek and Donkey first get to Farquad's castle and Donkey says 'what do you think he’s compensating for?'" he said. "The biggest one I have is that my followers are called friends with 'Bennyfits.' The funniest part is that Benny isn't even in on that joke."
Unlike a lot of other streamers on Twitch, the man behind Bennyfits doesn't want to make this a full-time gig. He's fine with doing it during his free time after his shift as a self-employed web developer. He's happy doing it to make other people happy.
"There's no real reason for me to keep doing this, I'm not trying to make it sustainable. It's even pretty hard to stream with my body off camera," he said. "It's just something I've done to make my daughter and my family happy. People have told me it's like Twitch meets Sesame Street, and that's exactly what I’m going for."