THE STORY BEHIND THE FUNKEY MUNKEY
In 2007 I was asked this question. “If you could create a completely original mascot character what would it be?” After thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized I was going to make this question more complicated than it really was. I spent hours upon hours searching the internet for every kind of mascot and animal I could find. Not only did I want my character to be easily recognizable, but I wanted it to have similar characteristics and habits that already exists. But I also wanted my character to be unique and one of a kind.
While looking a different sports teams and universities I noticed there were a lot of lions, tigers, and bears… OH MY! And the times I found a unique mascot it was usually something weird like a slug or a peanut.
So I began researching animals. Making a list of what animals are easily recognized and have memorable traits about them. As I made my way to the M’s it hit me like a ton of bricks. A monkey! Of course! So I began searching for all the sports teams that have a monkey as their mascot and I could not find any.
Next on my list I wanted the costume to be easy to perform in and already have some personality traits. Thinking more about the personality of a monkey I started seeing monkeys picking bugs out of someone’s hair. Then the phrase monkey in the middle, monkey see monkey do, and go bananas began to ring in my head.
Then it came time to think about what the suit would look like. I quickly got on paint program and created this simple sketch of what I see the monkey looking like.
One of my biggest concerns about the design of this costume was that it had to be the best performer friendly costume out there. I wanted to have the best vision so that anything I could do as myself, I could do in the costume. I called this character “The Monkee” and put the idea of creating my own character away… until 2011.
April of 2011 I revisited the idea of creating my own character. I was still hooked on the idea of this monkey mascot costume. I showed it many friends and everyone agreed that it is family friendly, and still has that uniqueness about it that adults would appreciate.
As I began working with the costume creators at Starline Costumes, they asked me if there was any reason why I chose the monkey to be that certain color. I hadn’t really thought about the color of the costume, but it made me think even more. I wanted the character to be noticed to where it would stand out in a crowd of a million people. To make the character even more unique and one of a kind we decided to make the monkey red and yellow.
My younger brother TJ was very intrigued by the idea, but he wanted to see what it would look like if my character had more personality and asked an artist friend of his to draw it up.
After seeing the my monkey character with personality, I knew this character would be well liked and easily noticed.
Then it came time to name the character. Because of the similarity of the band name, “The Monkees” and “The Monkee”, I didn’t want to get in trouble with any copyright infringement. I began thinking of what I will be using this character for. I wanted to use this costume to help motivate and encourage children. I wanted to teach them the keys to success. But I also wanted them to have fun. Our programs helped serve as a “key” to “success” and the monkey was the “key” to “fun”.
Those words rang in my head for days. Finally I wrote those words on a piece of paper and stared at them. Then all at once, the idea of “Funkey Monkey” came to mind. BUT, like I said I wanted this character to be completely unique, so I decided to make his name “The Funkey Munkey”.
I chose the uniform colors to be blue and white because those were the colors I grew up wearing when I attended school in New Braunfels, TX.
Now as we attend events kids everywhere run up and embrace The Funkey Munkey. Parents often compliment our character for being colorful and non-intimidating to their child.
So now that we know that people enjoy the concept of The Funkey Munkey, and we hope that this character becomes a household name and continues to make an “Impact” in the community.