So I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that this is one marathon of a My Week column, huh? I’ve actually spent longer working on this column than I spent at the convention, and I’m still only halfway through Sunday. I should get an award for this.
Oh, wait — I DID get an award for this. The emcees gave out prizes during the con to fans who could answer trivia questions, and I got two of the coolest prizes of all. At the Kermit’s Swamp Years panel, they asked who Kermit’s friends were. I knew it was Goggles and Croaker, and I got a cool Kermit’s Swamp Years hat. Later on, Craig asked who performed Taminella, and I knew that it was Jerry Juhl — and I won an autographed script for Sunday night’s live Muppet Show. It was the most amazing thing. Treasure was just falling from the sky right into my hands.
And you know how I knew the answers to those two questions? Because I read ToughPigs.com. I wrote about Kermit’s Swamp Years a few weeks ago, and Taminella was the star of Tales of the Tinkerdee, which I wrote about last month. Let this be a lesson to all of you: Read Tough Pigs every day. It’s bound to pay off sooner or later.
Meanwhile, there’s so much more that happened at Muppetfest, but this is all taking so long that I’m tempted to just wrap things up and put everything else into the Muppetfest Memories zine. I think you’re getting the point anyway, which is the following: Coolest weekend ever.
I wish I had the patience to describe the Digital Performance Control System, which Steve and Dave demonstrated as a digital Kermit and Gonzo, because it was really quite cool, and it made me optimistic about the possibilities of 3D computer-animated Muppets. I wish I had the time to describe the bizarre practical joke that they demonstrated that involved Jerry picking his nose behind Michael Eisner’s back. I wish I could explain to you why a little guitar signed by Kermit was auctioned off for $720, but a set of the scripts for The Muppets Valentine Show, The Frog Prince and The Great Santa Claus Switch only got $380. I wish I could explain the look on my friend Bill’s face later that night when he bought a box full of Miss Piggy’s accessories for $1,850.
But I’m tired. So very tired. Muppetfest was so big, and so beautiful, and such an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience that there’s just no way I can capture all of it.
And the best part is that it’s not really over. During one of the panels on Sunday, Steve said, “So many people have come up, saying, Thank you, thank you for being here. And I just want you to know, we feel the same way about you. There’s a big gap [the stage] between us here, but really, we’re here with you.”
They gave us an amazing show, and they entertained us and revealed themselves to us for a weekend — but I think we did something for them too. All of the Henson people that I talked to over the weekend just seemed thrilled to get all this love and energy back. They kept saying that they never get direct feedback from fans like this. Everybody was just feeling so good. And I’d like to think that maybe we inspired them.
It’s been a hard year for the Muppets. Actually, it’s been a hard decade. If you think about where the Muppets were in 1991, before anybody was sure that the company would even survive, you can see what a crazy roller-coaster the last ten years have been for them. First Disney came in to save them, then Sony, then EM.TV. All those movies, all those TV shows, all those comebacks. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if they’d just given up and closed down the shop.
Muppetfest was a chance for all of us to come together and say, Please don’t stop. You mean too much to us. It was kind of a call to arms for the Muppet Reserves, Lovers and Dreamers Division — with two months’ notice, how many Muppet fans can we assemble in one place, and how happy can we make them? Turns out the answer was: Lots, and very.
I like to think that over the next year, when they’re working on Kermit’s Swamp Years, or pitching the new Muppet Show, or negotiating the distribution for the next Muppet movie — whenever they get discouraged, they’re going to think about us, cheering and laughing and giving standing ovations to Gonzo.
I think they’ll smile, and keep going.
by Danny Horn