ToughPigs.com has been going strong for nearly 17 years. That’s a lot of years! In that time, we’ve posted literally thousands of news items, commentaries, previews, reviews, reports, silly things, videos, and fan art compilations, all related to the Muppets and the works of Jim Henson. And let me tell you, it’s not easy coming up with new stuff to say about the Muppets all the time. Sometimes I’m convinced that we’ll run out of new things to say about the Muppets any day now. But so far, we haven’t! Somehow we keep coming up with new ways of talking about Kermit the Frog.
But not every idea is a winner. I can’t speak for all my fellow contributors, but I’ve had a number of false starts over the years. Here are some of the most notable notions I’ve had that I never could manage to bring to fruition:
My Weeks with Muppet Sing-Alongs
This one goes back years and years, and it was going to be a conversation-style piece, a collaboration between myself, Joe Hennes and Michal Richardson. We watched a handful of Muppet sing-along VHS releases — Billy Bunny’s Animal Songs, It’s Not Easy Being Green, Muppet Treasure Island Sing-Along — and enthusiastically documented the witty commentary we each came up with.
But when we looked back at our notes, we couldn’t quite figure out how to smoosh them all together into a coherent article. Also, some of our jokes were maaaybe not as funny as we thought they were. Like, there was a moment where a slow-talking turtle in Billy Bunny said “I think… I need… a… nap” and I quipped “Uh-oh. The medication is wearing off.” Was that the best I could do?
Someday we might go back and take a look at those sing-along tapes, but it probably won’t be in that format. Anyway, it was too hard to keep remembering to make jokes when we were cheerfully singing along to “Splish Splash” and “I’m a Little Pirate.”
Grover Is a Ladies’ Monster
One day, while watching old Sesame Street, I noticed that at the beginning of the “Sing After Me” number, Grover, while sitting on Madeline Kahn’s lap, tells Kahn that she’s looking highly attractive, and she seems quite flattered. Then I noticed that the “How Do You Do” number ends with Lena Horne holding Grover in her arms and kissing him, at which point he tells her she’s a good kisser.
“Whoa!” I said to myself. “Grover has a history of getting up close and personal with women guest stars! There’s DEFINITELY potential for an article there!” So I decided to keep an eye out for more examples. But then I never saw any more examples. Also, it was probably a weird idea to begin with.
Backlash the Musical
The Sesame Street producers and most fans were really excited about the premiere of “Elmo the Musical,” a regular segment featuring the titular monster singing and dancing his way through the world. But because it was a replacement for “Elmo’s World,” not everyone shared their enthusiasm.
I was amused at some of the negative comments about it on various internet outlets, so I started collecting my favorites, with the intention of compiling them in an article — but also because there’s something about stories of small children crying over inconsequential things that makes me laugh.
A few examples:
“To sum it up, my toddler walked out of the room to go play with his toys. Please consider bringing back Elmo’s World.”
“I agree, the Elmo SUCKED!! My daughter loves Elmo and she didn’t watch it. Bring back Elmo’s world!”
“What on earth is going on? Very disappointed. It was just a nonstop barrage of nonsensical activity. Even Elmo didn’t look like he was having fun!”
“my 3 year old daughter sobbed the entire time the new elmo segment played. Thanks.”
All of these comments tickled me, but ultimately, I thought better of holding these toddlers’ pain up for mockery. Until now, I suppose.
I came across a few pieces of official merchandise that called Fozzie Bear “Fozzy.” A t-shirt, a mug, another t-shirt. I started writing an outraged commentary: “How did this happen?! This has to stop! I hope somebody got fired for this!”
Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out much more to say than “It’s bad that they spelled Fozzie’s name wrong!” That’s not actually a commentary, it’s just complaining — even moreso than most of my articles! So that article never got to take the stage.
Fortunately, it’s been a long time since I saw any Fozzie merchandise with his name misspelled. On the other hand, it’s been a long time since I saw any new Fozzie merchandise…
The Definitive Version of “New York State of Mind”
The idea here was to compare three versions of the song “New York State of Mind”: the original by Billy Joel, Floyd’s performance on The Muppet Show, and Rowlf’s cover on the Ol’ Brown Ears Is Back album. I was going to judge them each on categories like vocals, arrangement, and soulfulness, and then decide which one was the best.
But once I started writing, I figured there would be no suspense because everyone in the world knows that Floyd’s version wins. And even if there are people who don’t know that, it’s pretty predictable that a Muppet fan site would choose a Muppet’s performance over that of Billy Joel, who is not a Muppet, as far as I know. However, I did mention the song in my “The Muppets Taught Me Every Popular Song” article. So that’s… something!
The Next Movie: The Muppets Eat a Balanced Breakfast!
Muppets Most Wanted was the fourth-or-fifth-best Muppet movie, but it didn’t exactly light the box office on fire. When it made less money than that Mr. Peabody thing, we knew there was no guarantee we would see another Muppet film anytime soon.
Meanwhile, I collected all the Muppets Most Wanted promotional Cheerios boxes. That’s right, all of them — Frosted Cheerios, Fruity Cheerios, Chocolate Cheerios, even Parmesan Garlic Cheerios. Each box had a stage you could cut out of the back, as well as a couple of cut-out Muppet characters. I started making plans for a ridiculous Tough Pigs video that I would present thusly: “While we wait for the next real Muppet movie to happen, here’s the next-best thing: Cardboard Muppets acting out a hilarious and heartwarming adventure, brought to you by Cheerios®!”
There would be some kind of nonsensical story about the Muppets eating a lot of Cheerios, maybe a song about whole grain oats, and of course I would perform all the characters (badly). I even knew who the celebrity cameos would be, from elsewhere in my pantry: Toucan Sam, Cap’n Crunch, Snap, Crackle, Pop, and Paul Newman.
Then a few months went by and I still hadn’t made the video and those boxes were taking up a lot of room, so… I recycled them. Now not only is there no Muppet movie on the horizon, there’s not even my fake one. Please forgive me.
Keep Pressing the Big Red Button: The Muppets Street Surfin’ Handheld Video Game Is a Profound Metaphor for Life
I was really excited about researching and writing this one, but then the batteries in my game ran out and I didn’t have any more AAs around. Oh well.
And there you have it. For various reasons, you’ll never, ever get to read those articles. But don’t worry! We at ToughPigs.com always have a lot of great ideas percolating, so we won’t run out of new stuff to say for a really long time! Probably.
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com