This article is the latest in our continuing My Favorite Muppet of the Moment series!
My favorite Muppet of the Moment is Harry the Hipster.
Why did I choose Harry the Hipster as My Favorite Muppet of the Moment?
I’m going to go out on a limb here with a bold statement. Harry the Hipster was the first actual Muppet character.
Harry wasn’t the first puppet built by Jim Henson or the first to be called a “Muppet”, but he might be the first with any actual personality. When you look at the cast of characters from Sam and Friends, only three have anything resembling an identifiable personality. Kermit is Kermit, though he wouldn’t have a consistent voice for a few more years. Yorick is creepy and eats things, but that’s less a personality and more a set of quirks. Harry, meanwhile, is cool.
Keep in mind that most of those old Sam and Friends bits were basically puppets lip-syncing to records, so whatever their personal characteristics might be are overwritten by whatever we hear on the audio track. This is why the old pre-frog Kermit shifted from straight man to comedian, little girl to cowboy, and so on.
But Harry the Hipster – he’s one of the few (that we know of… don’t forget that most of those old Sam and Friends sketches are lost to antiquity) with a consistent voice. He’s cool, he likes jazz, he’s laid back, he doesn’t care what other people think of him. Like no other Muppet before him (but thousands after), Harry was clearly defined to the point where his main descriptor is included in his name: The Hipster.
What makes Harry the Hipster so great?
Not only was Harry a predecessor to the Muppet family, but he’s the predecessor to so many individual Muppets.
Defined by his coolness factor, Harry is the proto-Floyd Pepper. With his sunglasses-like eyes and rock and roll demeanor, Harry is the coolest cat that ever sat on Jim Henson’s arm.
Harry is also the proto-Rowlf, not only in his gruff voice, but also in his laid-back attitude and philosophical nature. He’s inherently trustworthy, with an indescribable expertise in human nature.
Harry is also the proto-Kermit. Despite appearing alongside the early version of Kermit on Sam and Friends, he embodied a lot more of the flexibility (both character-wise and puppetry-wise) and authority that Kermit would later be most recognized for.
As you can see, Harry the Hipster was the root of the tree that eventually branched into all our favorite Muppets. He may not be around anymore, but his influence lives on through the Muppets we know and love today.
Memorable Harry the Hipster Moment
It’s hard to choose any clip other than “Visual Thinking”, which may be the best spotlight of Harry the Hipster we could offer. Harry shows off his expert knowledge, his deep love of jazz, and his innate trustworthiness, all with impeccably-timed animation. It’s a wonder that Kermit became the breakout star of the Muppets and not this guy.
Click here to play it cool, Daddio, on the ToughPigs forum!
by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com