This topic focuses on the Snippet of Muppet history that is The Muppet Show. It ran on television from 1976 to 1981 for five seasons. The characters are a delightful mix of some messed up felt.
The insane world of the Muppet Show started when Jim Henson wanted to be taken more seriously. The tale takes place in a run-down theatre, populated with the strangest audience this side of Chicago. Kermit the Frog is the backstage Maestro for an offbeat variety show. The theater was owned by Skeeter's uncle. Kermit was responsible for putting on entertaining shows with humor and music. Charged with this task, Kermit was as screwed as Hasselhoff's 12 Step Sponsor. He had been left with a flop of a theater and a rag tag band of misfits (sounds like a Rob Schneider movie).
Every week, Kermit had to make sure that he put on an entertaning show with the small amalgam of talent that was available to him. Just like the writer's of Two and a Half Men. Apparently there was much more money available to him than he thought, because he somehow managed to score more talent needing work than the Love Boat and Fantasy Island could ever amass. Every week, the show had a different guest star who would perform their shtick. The guest list was anyone you heard of to everyone you haven't, unless you're horribly old or eccentric.
Family entertainment at it's most sad.
Some sample guest stars, to test your memory - Alice Cooper, Vincent Price, Steve Martin, Star Wars, John Cleese, Bernadette Peters, Carol Burnett, Bob Hope, Julie Andrews. Hell those were easy and make the Muppet Show seem like the godammned Oscars.
However the guest also included some not so greats, and those in their not so great moments. For example -
Roy Clark - Hee Haw. No more needs be said.
Leo Sayer - The high pitched MALE vocalist of "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing" fame or shame depending on how your bread is buttered.
Senor Wences - A man who made a living talking to his hand. The inspiration for Cartman's Jennifer Lopez. Apparently felt and ping pong ball prices were fucking insane in the 70's. This man practically set ventriloquism back three million years.
What has to be the 70's coup de grace - Doug Henning. Seriously, if you've never seen this guy, imagine Gallagher, Bob Ross, and Siegfried and Roy having a huge orgy that resulted in a hate child. Add an accent more gay than the entire cast of The L Word and Rent and Presto! you have Doug Henning. Need more proof? Starve your eyes on this:
The Village People were butch before they met this guy. Really, the rainbow is coincidental.
Despite the undeniable drawng power of a "man" like Henning, the Muppet Show did have its own line-up of wacky regulars. To go through each one would encompass a volume of work that I just don't have the effort for, but suffice to say, there are favorites that are worthy of mention. Each week they managed to eke out a very humorous and ahead of its time show that continues to delight and engage those who appreciate slightly outdated humor. The unfortunate part is that the pure humor represented has been so brutally raped by in your face dick and fart jokes that your average kid would need a translator to make it even halfway meaningful.
Kermit - The star of our show and the first indicator most of us had of ADD. Seriously, the frenetic pace this guy kept up made us sure he had a stash behind the stage curtain, or he was partying with Animal. Kermit is the ultimate crossover and is to henson what MickeyMouse to Disney, except Kermit is funny. He started as a green sock with ping pong balls for eyes, and ended up... with arms and legs. He was on the Muppet Show, Sesame Street, and just about anything stamped with Henson's name. Kermit ties it all together and is the emotional support system for the gang. He gets dragged into everything against his will, and spends most of his time cleaning up other people's messes. Kermit has sung many songs during his career, his most famous being "Bein Green" and "Rainbow Connection." Now technically they were sung by Jim Henson, which makes Kermit some Twilight Zone Milli-Vanilli, but I digress.
Miss Piggy - May I start by stating that a puppet has her own fuckin perfume? Okay, having said this, Ms. Piggy is someone that Britney should study in great detail. They had similar beginnings. Miss Piggy began as a background singer who had a little too much gusto and came into the spotlight. Piggy had a pig nose, not mouse ears. The other similarity is that they both became fat pigs. Miss Piggy just has more esteem than to go under the knife. Maybe it was the sign, Bob Evans, Rhinoplasty that frightened her off. Seriously, Miss Piggy exemplifies the feminist movement in more than one way. "Let me use feminine wiles to get ahead, but god help me if you underscore me or call attention to me for it." Miss Piggy knows martial arts and has tried to trick Kermit into marrying her many times. Miss Piggy was voiced by Frank Oz, which makes her one half degree from Yoda. Piggy has done numerous duets with most of the stars that were on the show and and emerged as a major character very quickly.
Statler and Waldorf - Ah, named after famous hotels, this duo is a lot of people's favorite characters. They sit in the balcony, probably having been given lifetime tickets from some blood debt to the Mob. They sit there week after week, and put down the show. Look out bloggers and shitcanners - you came from these guys' felt seed. The only different, they're clever, you're just annoying. The best moments with this geriatric Siskel and Ebert were when they would wrangle Fozzie about pretty much everything he did. Now in the real world, Fozzie would have taken a knife to them in the back alley, but in Muppetland that stuff doesn't happen. I kind of like the fact that they look like the old guys from "Trading Places." The Eddie Murphy movie, not the show.
Like a mirror reflection, ain't it?
Fozzie Bear - The Dane Cook of his time (too easy?). Fozzie the Bear represented the true stand up guy. The man... er bear with a dream in his heart, and not a lick of talent to his name. His trademark Wokka Wokka, polka-dot tie and brown hat. Fozzie honestly tries way too hard (listening Dane? Seriously, I can't help it. Although the more i think about it, Jack Black should watch out). He is his funniest mainly because you gotta give it up for the guy. He's out there every night, giving it his all, what the hell have you done with your life, sitting here reading about people instead of getting off your ass! Where do you get off...? Sorry got lost on a tangent. Where was I... oh yeah Dane Cook sucks, Fozzie rules. Fozzie is also the title of wrestler Chris Jericho's band. I don't know if that gives or takes away from the Bear, oh well.
Dr. Teeth - The organ playing maestro of the Electric Mayhem. He was modelled after Dr. John and Elton John costuming was an influence. The gold tooth... bling baby, he rocked the grill from way back. Dr. Teeth is the epitome of cool, in that same way that 45 year oold uncle of you who still recounts that summer with the Dead like it was yesterday (probably because in his brain it was yesterday, burnout). I bet Dr. Teeth sleeps in Kermit's basement and peeks on Piggy in the shower. But the man can play and sing, and his arm are fuckin huge. His vocabulary was inspired by Dr. John as well. Is anything original Jim? Sholuld have called it The Plagiarism Show. All my childhood fantasies and enjoyments crashing down around me... but I'll solider on.
Janice - One of the most confusing Muppets. A member of the Electric Mayhem, Janice was a Valley-girled hippie. Just your little sister after her first year of college. Janice was originally designed as a male character and patterned after Mick Jagger. This is where the confusion starts. Janice is either a hell of a post-op Muppet, or Mick Jagger is a hell of a pre-op chick. She is the only Muppet with a noticeable rack, and is either with Zoot, or Floyd depending on which season of Desperate Muppetwives you're watching. If they ever make a real prson version of the Muppets,. the kid who played Mitch could play Janice. To make maters more confusing the Valley girl voice was Richard Hunt, a dude! Was that theater in Baltimore or Sweden?
Animal - Animal has been linked to Mick Fleetwood, althouigh they had to drop, some of the back hair. He has been said to be based on Keith Moon. No ones knows. Animals is the drummer for the Electric Mayhem, and he is rock and roll. Frank Oz said he summed Animal in 5 words - Sex, sleep, food, drums and pain. Great stuff! Animal has been linked to the id, the spirit of music, a rapist ... wait scratch that. Animal is by far one of the more popular of the Muppets, probabky because grunting and shouting needs no translation, which has worked out well for Al Pacino.
Floyd - The bass player for the Muppets, most often linked romantically with Janice, even though she was the girlfriend/companion for Zoot during the first season (maybe that Mick Fleetwood thing had more than I thought - if you need help with that last one, count how many candles were on your cake last birthday and ask your parents). Floyd Pepper, wonder who he was named for is an obvious hybrid of Chevy Chase and Edwin Meese. He actually is heir to the Dr. Pepper fortune and still dresses like the Beatles... no wait... Sgt. Pepper - OOH I get it... moving on. Floyd does have a mean singing voice and is one of the repositories of cool for the Muppet Show. The whole Fozzie gets his shades episode was great!
Zoot - Zoot for real was designed after an Argentinian sax player named Gato Barbieri. He is a minimalist saxist and speaker. Zoot barely speaks and utters very few notes. But man, the notes he plays are... few. He belts out the last note of the closing theme. He obviously is cool with the fact that Floyd goes out with Janice, unless Zoot knows something and Floyd is into that, or is too drugged out to notice. Zoot has been dexcribed as a fifty-such burned out musician.
Gonzo - Officially classified as everything from unique, to a Weirdo, to an alien in the film Muppets from Space, Gonzo is proof that iconoclasts do make it big, in the world of alternative entertainment. Gonzo has a thing for chickens, and based off of not knowing what Gonzo is, we're never really sure if that is bestality. Explain that one to your kid if you live on a farm. God, take them into the city once in a whole, we can't do all your parenting. Gonzo is the Tom Green of the Muppet Show. Doing the most outlandish thing to get noticed, and have sex with chickens, he is a dead ringer. The only saving grace is that Gonzo is not Canadian. We think.
Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew - The bizarre team of Muppet Labs, there is more abuse here than Sonny and Cher swinging with Ike and Tina. Beaker suffers mutishly through the machinatons of Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, a small little melon ball head guy who develops the worst inventions this side of Ron Popeil. Pocket fisherman, really, what were you thinking? Anyways, Beaker accepts his fate in ife, justifying more than one of my peers reluctant giving in to the Corporate world.
The Swedish Chef - One of the coolest characters that people remember most, mainly from the fact that he is powerfully destructive. He appeals to an the nihilist sensibilities this side of the Columbine Massacre. One of the other coolm, things that the Chef had going for him is that he had his own cereal Croounchy Stars. Go ahead, Google it if you don't believe me. I don't know which is sadder the fact that I remember that, I ate them, or the fact that I also remember C3PO's and E.T Cereal. You thought High School Musical was a bad cereal. The older you get, the more you know it is a cycle. The other cfreepy thing about Chef's a-poppin, was that he had HUMAN HANDS. He was felt, with HUMAN HANDS. Granted it was to pick all the stuff he threw around, but it still is creepy as hell.
In addition to the regulars who appeared week after week, there were a staple of minor players who would appear in sketches and back stage moments. They were memorable to be sure, due to their own unique quirks and oddities.
Sam the Bald Eagle - Sam was the moral insurance of the Muppet Show. He was there to make sure that the show followed the highest ethical responsibiolitikes of deceny and wholesomeness. Kind of like Tipper Gore, except blue and covered in feathers. Wait, exactly like Tipper Gore. Moving on. Sam was the Aerican Bald Eagle, and he was kind of stuck up and he woujld repeatedly complain to Kermit about thequality fo the actsm, and of the guests and whether they were right for America to be watching. Where was this bastard when Doug Henning was on? I ask you!!!!
Lew Zealand - I am not making this up. He makes his living throwing boomerang fish. Not to mention the starnge accent he has, he throws fish that come back. This man must have an incredible upkeep bill or a dressing room not even Amy Winehouose would enter without a Hazmat team. And that was a hygiene joke, not a vagine-fish joke. Until just now.
Crazy Harry - Crazy Harry is a great character for many reasons. One, as a twleve year old boy, I loved his insantiy and that fact that he could blow shit up anywhere. This m an was a genius in explosives that I am sure drove many people into Ordinance work. He carried around a plunger explosive box and would pluntge and explode things at random. I also love Harry because if he were to be introduced now, he would never FUCKIN make it. I bet there are still people saying his carrying the plunger around encourages children to carry explosives. I am am surprised that this character wasn't placed next to the Unibomber as a teaching tool. I think it is insulting that seven year olds can tell something isn't real better than 40 plus politicians.
Link Hogthrob - David Hasselhogg. Watch him and you'll know what I mean.