"Rapid T. Rabbit & Friends" was a public access television puppet show that ran for an astonishing 30-plus years. I saw "was" because, sadly, the show's creator and lead performer Richard Concepcion passed away suddenly on August 1st.
I knew Richard for a time, having attended a few tapings of his show along with some friends back in the early 2000's. He was always a very friendly guy, he loved punny humor, and he loved to talk about kids shows and cartoons from his childhood. I remember one time we bonded because we were both fans of the "Hoppity Hooper" cartoon show. Sometimes after he was done taping his show, we would all go out to a diner and have dinner together and without fail, Richard would always get the carrot cake for dessert.
I always had admiration for Richard. I always wondered what kept him going, filming his show every week for so long. He was passionate about it, and he worked hard to make every show his best. Some folks poked fun at him, he had an infamous "Daily Show" appearance once, but he never took any of it to heart. Actually he turned a lot of the footage from that appearance into parts of his opening credits for his show. He was friends with big shots on Sesame Street, Hannah-Barbera voice actors, attended nearly every parade in NYC, performed at the White House, and had multitude of friends who enjoyed his company and his art. Richard was a real New York City original, and who knows if we'll ever see a performer like him ever again on public access.
The last time I spoke to Richard was through LiveJournal, roughly 15 years ago. I bumped into him once or twice in those years but our lives took us to new social circles. When I had heard of his passing I was really taken aback because I was thinking of him earlier that day because I was watching "Hoppity Hooper" on my office computer.
For now, nearly every episode of the "Rapid T. Rabbit & Friend's" show can be watched through Richard's official website. I recommend downloading what you can now as it is uncertain how long these shows will be up.
Below is the official correspondence that was sent that mentions the premiere of the "Rapid T. Rabbit & Friend's Show" way back in February of 1983.
Rest easy Richard, and keep hoppin' happy