The Muppets Are Six Things: The Things

Published: September 10, 2010
Categories: Feature, Your Two Cents

muppetmoviefinaleA while back, I asked the question (borrowed from Steve Swanson, the host of the MuppetCast): If you met somebody who had never seen the Muppets, what six moments — songs, scenes, or sketches — would you show them to demonstrate what the Muppets are all about?

I got a bunch of lists from a bunch of people, with a variety of picks. The Muppets have been around for over 50 years, and there’s a huge volume of scenes, songs, and sketches to choose from. So with all those decades of great stuff, what was the most frequently cited moment? A thing from last year. At least nine people included the “Bohemian Rhapsody” YouTube video on their lists, and that’s great. The Muppets are still an active franchise, so why not start with one of their newest awesome things?

Other very popular choices included:

  • “Mahna Mahna,” the second-most listed moment. Ivan G says: “It is bizarre, silly, catchy, and appeals to all ages and nationalities.”
  • “The Rainbow Connection.” Kevin H says: “I think it’s their spirit that attracts most fans. Their outlook that nothing is impossible, to go for their dreams, to keep hope alive…”
  • “The Magic Store”
  • Kermit’s speech to Doc Hopper at the climax of The Muppet Movie
  • “Change of Address,” the Fraggle Rock finale

It was interesting to see what aspects of the Muppets everyone thought were most important. As you can see, a lot of folks emphasized the heartfelt stuff. But there were plenty of silly moments listed as well. And musical moments, and amazing puppetry moments, and etc., etc. Tough Pigs’ own Anthony Strand summed it up nicely: “To make someone into a Muppet fan, you need to show them that Muppets aren’t just wiggled dolls. They’re the most versatile entertainment troupe in history.”

With that in mind, here are some notable picks from your lists:

piggyrowlffoofooMiss Piggy, Rowlf and Foo-Foo’s Dog act from the Wally Boag episode of The Muppet Show. Jim and Frank at their best, and a hilariously scripted, simply set up sequence that shows off two Muppet characters with wonderful depth to them. Also the element of responding to the unpredictable with a live dog on set and all the great experience that that requires to look effortless. (Jamie B)

“Danny Boy” by the Leprechaun Brothers… For my money, the funniest sketch in the history of The Muppet Show. The premise is so simple — three characters who can’t speak English try to sing a song together — and the execution is amazing. I’ve shown it to at least a dozen people over the years, and it never fails to produce belly laughs. Simple proof that the Muppets are hilarious. (Anthony S)

Emmet Otter and The Frogtown Jubilee Jug Band performing “Brothers.” People love cute critters, so they’ll tune in to go awwww before they say, “wow! what a production.” In my opinion, outside the Show, the Rock and the Street, it’s the best Henson production and gives a good example of what worlds the Creature Shop could create. (Jake F)

“Octopus’ Garden” from The Ed Sullivan Show. This is a good example of the Muppets before they broke it big in syndicated prime-time. It mixes all the things the Muppets are known for: performing a song, adding some humor and ending with someone getting eaten. (Shane O)

The “Monster Eats Computer” sketch (from early variety show appearances) is paced really well and immediately indicates how long the Muppets have been around with the dated idea of a super-computer that talks. (Rosalynn B)

The last 20 minutes or so of The Great Muppet Caper. Basically from the time Gonzo tells everyone what he over heard to the final line of the closing song “Hey A Movie.” Like the song says, there is comedy, mystery, and it’s a real good time. And everyone gets a line that is true to their character! (Kevin H)

glowwormThe “Inchworm” sketch (from early variety show appearances) — because it’s flat-out hilarious. As a very early piece, it shows just how novel the Muppets’ style of comedy was. No other puppet troupe ever thought of ending a sketch by having a puppet eat another puppet. (Grant H)

“Hugga Wugga.” It’s a suitably weird experiment in music and puppetry and shows that the Muppet Show wasn’t just a kids show. (Rob W)

Wilkins & Wontkins — I don’t think one commercial is enough to really give the full effect, so I’d probably show four or five. The Muppets have done a lot of bizarre material over the years, and this is one of the first — and most perfect — examples. They show that even while doing work for hire, Jim Henson was capable of utterly brilliant work. It’s gotta whet a person’s appetite for more. I almost guarantee it. (Anthony S)

“The Jousting Scene From Camelot” from the Pearl Bailey episode of The Muppet Show. (Ryan D)

Kermit singing This Frog in 1977 with the Tarnish Brothers it made me cry my heart out because Kermit is trying to gain self confidence after a frog laughed at Kermit when he’s doing office work and that made me cry alot and made me think about having confidence in what you can do just like Kermit did. (Nick H)

“Pre-School Musical” from Sesame Street. I HIGHLY doubt there’s anyone un-familiar with Sesame Street. However, there are some ignorant folk who know nothing more than it’s for babies and Elmo’s the “star.” I’m also sure there are a lot of people who dislike Disney’s High School Musical. The “Pre-School Musical” parody is so brilliant than people who have no idea its Sesame Street will get laugh. (Shane O)

Kermit fires Piggy. (Peter S)

convincingjohnThe episode “The Preachification of Convincing John” of Fraggle Rock. This is the episode that explains the symbiosis between Fraggles and Doozers (Doozers make buildings that Fraggles want to eat, so that it clears the way for more construction by the Doozers which they have to do or they’ll die). It illustrates for kids how all creatures (great and small, when you throw the Gorgs into the picture too) depend on each other in that big Circle of Life that Elton John sings so powerfully about in that other Disney property. (Christine)

“Visual Thinking” from Sam and Friends. The purest example of Jim’s runaway and unrestrained imagination, ahead of its time. (Jamie B)

Any of the Ballroom Dance Sequences from the first few seasons of the Muppet Show. (Matt W)

“Bein’ Green” in duet with Ray Charles (tackling “Muppets VS Celebrity”, “seriousness” and “The Muppets’ biggest hit”). (Jog)

“Jamboree.” The Muppets aren’t just funny, they’re also characters who can possess astonishing levels of depth. One of the few songs written specifically for The Muppet Show, it defines Gonzo as an eccentric, a dreamer, and an eternal optimist. It also establishes the Muppet theater as a place where delightfully strange things happen, and it does all of that in just a few minutes. (Anthony S)

“Sax and Violence” with Zoot and Manha Manha. (Sharilyn M)

ImawomanMiss Piggy singing “Because I’m a Woman” with Raquel Welch. (Kim M)

“Inchworm” with Danny Kaye — Here we see two of The Muppet Show‘s great strengths — bringing out the best in a guest star, and tugging at the audience’s heart strings. This number is set backstage, and it pretends that Mr. Kaye sings the song just for the Muppets, “just among friends.” It’s a slow, laid-back number, and it allows the potential new fan to see how genuinely emotional the Muppets can be. (Anthony S)

“Elevator Bingo” from (Ryan D)

Pepe on the Bonnie Hunt Show. Proof that the Muppets can still be outrageous, unpredictable and roll on the floor hilarious at the drop of a hat, leaving people lost for words). (Jamie B)

The “Our Melody” sequence from Fraggle Rock. The whole episode would be ideal, but the the final 5 minutes sums up what Fraggle Rock is all about – celebrating our differences and getting along together, all in a musical, sophisticated medium. I have been to spiritual services run by modern-day hippies and they all remind me of this sequence. (Jake F)

“Rock Around the Clock” from the Victor Borge episode of The Muppet Show. To me, this is one of the best examples of a Muppet Show-type number I can think of… It’s weird and yet it still makes some sense. (Shane O)

Sesame Street‘s “Elephant Elevator Operator” is right up there. I’ve gotten several people hooked on that song. (Michal R)

The report Kermit files from the Planet Koozebane in episode 107 of the Muppet Show, showcasing the incredibly rare Galley-oh-hoop-hoop. It is the craziest, wackiest, just WTF moment for me of the Muppets. Maybe it’s because i just picture Frank Oz and Jerry Nelson performing this wacky thing and thinking to myself how AWESOME that must have been to go to work every day and do stuff like THAT. (Christine)

“Movin’ Right Along.” As well as being a great song it perfectly demonstrates the friendship between Kermit and Fozzie. (Rob W)

Couldntweride“Couldn’t We Ride” — because puppets can’t ride bicycles, it’s impossible. This scene shows the Muppets’ commitment to setting impossible goals, and then finding a way to achieve them. (Grant H)

“Is It True?” from Fraggle Rock. In a lot of ways, Fraggle Rock was the opposite of Sesame Street. Story-driven instead of sketch-based, and more concerned with world-building than curriculum. This song makes that difference strikingly clear, with lyrics about the nature of truth and belief rolled into a catchy, rollicking show-stopper. Plus it shows off Richard Hunt’s amazing singing voice. I can’t think of a better song to convince someone that “Muppet music” can simply mean “great music” sometimes. (Anthony S)

“Oklahoma” from Sesame Street, because The Muppets Are For the WHOLE Family. A lot of companies like to boast that their productions appeal to the whole family when, in some cases, that’s not completely true. Muppets, on the other hand, truly give everyone an opportunity to laugh and bring the whole family together. (Cameron G)

“Put Down the Duckie,” because The Muppets Are Dependent on Celebrities. The producers of Sesame Street and The Muppet Show both insisted that they include celebrities to make the show more appealing. At the same time, they gave the Muppets a constant excuse to keep things fresh and original. (Cameron G)

healthyfoodCookie Monster’s “Healthy Foods” rap, because The Muppets Are Hypocrites. So CTW makes this character called ‘Cookie Monster.’ Nice idea I suppose. But then they make him do songs about Vegetables! If a character has an obsession, they must obsess it all the time! (Griffin M)

This eating/explosion montage, because The Muppets Are Murderers. Jim Henson’s golden rule was, “If you can’t find a way out of a scene, just blow something up!” There’s no question in my mind that he was a pyromaniac who wanted nothing more than to have a world tormented by explosions and violence. Jerk. (Griffin M)

“I’m Gonna Always Love You” from The Muppets Take Manhattan. I think if this doesn’t grab a stranger’s eyeballs, nothing will. (Jake F)

Whew, that’s a lot of Six Things. So if you ever meet anyone who’s never seen the Muppets, you have a lot of options to choose from. Thanks to everyone who sent in a list, and thanks again to Steve Swanson for the idea. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go rewatch every single moment listed here.

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by Ryan Roe –

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