Joe Hennes: Ryan!  It feels like just yesterday when you and I competed against each other in the Random Muppet Challenge, but it was a whopping six years ago!!

Ryan Roe: No way! That means a baby born the day we played that game would be six years old now! And a guy who turned 100 the day we played would be… dead, probably.

Joe: We’re so old.  In Muppet years.  So, for people who weren’t here six years ago, what exactly is this game that we totally made up?

Ryan: It’s a game that takes advantage of the “Random Muppet” button on the world-famous Muppet Wiki. The way the game works is: We take turns clicking on the Random Muppet button, and then announcing the name of the random Muppet that comes up — and ONLY the name! — to the other player.  Then it’s up to the other player to provide a brief description, the production the character is from, and the performer who, for lack of a better term, performed the character.

Joe: Sounds simple enough.  Do you recall who won the last time we played against each other?

Ryan: Believe it or not, it was a tie! Which is why we flipped a coin, and the disembodied head of George Washington told us it was my turn to click the button first.

Joe: George Washington! Okay, he was performed by Jim Henson in the Sex and Violence pilot of The Muppet Show, and he didn’t understand the jokes being told by the other Presidents on Mount Rushmore!  Oh, we haven’t started playing the game yet… I guess I’m ready to be randomized.  What’s my Random Muppet, Ryan?

Ryan: Your first Random Muppet is… Prince Rudolph!

Joe: Hmm.  I am aware of King Goshposh and Meteora, Queen of the Asteroids, but Rudolph escapes me.  The name is so basic, he could be from something super obscure or he could be from That Thing I’ve See a Billion Times.  So here goes nothing with a wild guess: Prince Rudolph was performed by Richard Hunt in a Sesame Street News Flash about Cinderella.

Ryan: I figured you might guess a Sesame News Flash. And I figured you’d be WRONG. Prince Rudolph appeared with his invisible cheeseburger in a 5th season episode of The Muppet Show! You know, one of those episodes that’s never been on DVD. And he was performed by Jerry Nelson.

Joe: I blame Disney Home Video for my loss on this one.

Ryan: Yeah, I blame them for most things. Including this morning when I didn’t have any orange juice at breakfast because I forgot to buy more orange juice. Why’d you do that, Disney? I should note also that the Wiki page comes with a disclaimer: The name of the character was debated by Wiki editors, with some hearing it as “Chris Rudolph.” Would you have recognized the name “Chris Rudolph?”

Joe: Oh, absolutely.  That would’ve been an easy 10 points for Gryffindor.  By the way, “Prince Rudolph and his Invisible Cheeseburger” is such a bizarre Muppet Show act, it must’ve come from writer Chris Langham.  (Though I suppose I won’t get any bonus points for guessing that.)  Anyway.  Your first Random Muppet Challenge is a bit easier, because of everyone’s favorite cheat, Context Clues! Tell me, Ryan, who is Baa Baa Walters?

Ryan: Hmm. Your prefacing it that way makes me think I should know this immediately, but I don’t. So I’ll just say Baa Baa Walters was a woolly parody of TV journalist Barbara Walters, performed by Stephanie D’Abruzzo on Sesame Street.

Joe: Oh man, you’re so close.  She was on Sesame Street, she was a spoof of Barbara Walters, but Stephanie D’Abruzzo had nothing to do with her.  Baa Baa was performed by Fran Brill, and she once interviewed her fellow Muppet ovine Meryl Sheep, where she presumably asked Meryl what sort of tree she’d be.  (A weeping woolow, perhaps?)

Ryan: I appreciate your use of the word “ovine,” which I now know is the sheep equivalent of “bovine” for cows. I bet sheep are constantly frustrated when they identify themselves as ovine and people are like, “Don’t you mean bovine?” and they’re like, “No, I SAID ovine! Do I look like a cow to you?” Also, I love Meryl Sheep. We probably don’t talk about her performer Camille Bonora as much as we should.  Moving on… Your second Random Muppet is… Oh, for Pete’s sake. It’s Robin the Frog!

Joe: Robot the Fog??  I don’t know this thing.  I assume he’s some sort of… cumulonimbus android?  Silently waiting for humanity to drop its guard so he can take over The Weather Channel!  No, he’s Kermit’s nephew, as seen in The Frog Prince, The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie, and for a very brief cameo in Muppets Most Wanted, performed by the great Jerry Nelson (and recently, Matt Vogel and even more recently, Peter Linz).  Also seen halfway down the stairs.

Ryan: That’s correct, you lucky devil. Hey, does everyone reading this know that “Halfway Down the Stairs” was a hit single in the UK? Robin is a pop star!

Joe: I just can’t imagine the flak I’d get from the fans if I got that one wrong.  For your sake, I hope yours is just as easy.  And your next Random Muppet is… Sissy Friendly!

Ryan: Oh, sure. Sissy Friendly. Of course. Sissy Friendly. The one and only. Well, drawing on my existing knowledge, I’ll venture a guess that Sissy Friendly is the sister of America’s second-favorite game show host Sonny Friendly from Sesame Street. And she was performed by Jerry Nelson.

Joe: Once again, you gain some ground in this game thanks to good ol’ Context Clues.  Yes, Sissy Friendly is Sonny Friendly’s sister on Sesame Street.  However, she wasn’t a Jerry Nelson joint, she was performed by Stephanie D’Abruzzo!  She is also, apparently, a poet.  And she know’d it.

Ryan: “I think that I shall never see/A Friendly lovely as Sissy.” So in the last round, I had the right performer for the wrong character. Which means Jerry Nelson will probably be the correct answer for my next round. And speaking of things that are next, are you ready for your next Random Muppet?

Joe: No, but when has that ever stopped you?

Ryan: Hey, you should be chomping (or champing, if you prefer) at the bit after getting Robin last time! Now, let’s see… This time you get… Stiller the Elf!

Joe: Oh good.  Stiller the Elf.  One of my legitimately least favorite Sesame Street creations from the past few years.  This jabroni is an elf with a snowball for a sidekick who helped ruin/save Christmas in Elmo’s Christmas Countdown, voiced by Famous Non-Puppeteer Ben Stiller.  Hopefully that gives me enough for full points, but I’d like to try for a bonus point by guessing at who actually manipulated the puppet.  Was it… Matt Vogel?

Ryan: Christmas came early for you, buddy, because you’re right on all counts! I reserve the right to award or withhold that bonus point based on how our scores add up at the end. So, let me make sure I have this straight: Stiller the Elf was your very favorite thing about Elmo’s Christmas Countdown?

Joe: Have I ever told you how good you are at reading subtext?  Okay, let’s keep this party going.  Your next Random Muppet is… Roy.  Because this is so difficult, I will add that this Roy is not the Roy from Dinosaurs (who is listed on the Muppet Wiki under his full name, Roy Hess).

Ryan: As I would expect. So this… This is just “Roy.”

Joe: Yes.  I’m so sorry.  It’s just Roy.

Ryan: Okay, let’s see what I can come up with here. Roy is a stereotypically nerdy astronomer who is especially passionate about the sun. For that reason, he really liked the movie Little Miss Sunshine. He appeared on the web series Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony to review the film from an astronomer’s perspective. And he was performed by Victor Yerrid.

Joe: Ryan, I like your gumption.  If gumption could be traded in for points, you’d win the House Cup for sure.  Unfortunately, you’re dead wrong.  You’re basically the Peter Falk of Great Muppet Caper of this round.  Roy is a frog, as seen in Kermit’s Swamp Years, who welcomed our heroes to the pet store.  And he was performed by Bill Barretta.

Ryan: Ridiculous as it may seem, I kind of remember that character now that you say that. But kind of remembering it now doesn’t help me much!

Joe: No, that’s what we’d call “cheating”, coming up with the right answer after it’s been told to you.  Or “time travel”.

Roy (just… “Roy”)

Ryan: If I ever build a time machine, my first stop will be today, so I can give myself the answers to this game. And speaking of this game, your final Random Muppet is… Mr. Warble!

Joe: Well, that sounds like a Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss character if I ever heard one.  So, let’s hope my Seuss-sense is tingling accurately.  Mr. Warble is a music teacher, who is also a fish.  And because I can hardly remember who performed on that show, I’ll default to Martin P. Robinson.  Did I come anywhere near the truth???

Ryan: That was a nice guess. Let’s go down the list… Is he from Wubbulous World? No. He’s from Mopatop’s Shop!

Joe: Oh yes.  He’s from the thing nobody’s ever seen.  I should’ve known.

Ryan: Maybe not in this country, but it ran for four seasons in the UK. We Americans aren’t the only Muppet fans in the world, you know! Just the loudest ones.  Now: Is he a fish? No. He’s a turkey!

Joe: I would’ve been right if his name was “Mr. Gargle”.

Ryan: Man, you would have been SO right. And finally, is he performed by Martin P. Robinson? As you may have guessed, no. It was Nigel Plaskitt.  Mr. Warble came into Mopatop’s titular shop trying to “find an Animal Choir,” whatever that means.

Joe: Well, I just never had a chance with that one.  My apologies to the good people of the UK, Mr. Nigel Plaskitt, and whatever a Mopatop is.

Ryan: Well, it’s not quite a mop, and it’s not quite a top…

Joe: Okay, so here’s your final Random Muppet with which I will Challenge you… Bad Humor Man.

Ryan: Well, he’s obviously some kind of unusually mean ice cream man. I’ll say he appeared in a sketch in the “Food” episode of The Jim Henson Hour, and he was performed by Kevin Clash.

Joe: I hope you have a good humor about this round, because you are incorrect on all counts.  The Bad Humor Man is not a man at all, but a Grouch.  He was seen serving ice cream (his specialty: anchovy swirl with street pavement topping) in Elmo in Grouchland, performed by Steve Whitmire.  The puppet was also used on an episode of Sesame Street performed by Jerry Nelson, so although you would’ve been wrong, I might’ve awarded you a meaningless half-point for the good guess.

Ryan: Of course he’s a Grouch. Although, does a character have to be a human to be considered an “ice cream man?” I suppose it doesn’t matter. Boy, what a rough game. I think I need some ice cream myself.

Joe: Yeah, this was a rough one for you.  Sorry about “Roy”.  And the “Bad Humor Man”.  And the fact that you gave me “Robin the Frog”.  The Random Muppet button is a fickle mistress.  So, what’s the final tally?

Ryan: I got four points. And you… alsogotsomepoints. Okay, you got six points. You win! Congratulations!

Joe: Thank you.  I couldn’t have done it without my agent Bernie, my talented makeup and wardrobe team, and all sorts of blind luck.

Ryan: Yeah, I meant to compliment you on how good your makeup looks.

Joe: Thanks, I’m supposed to look like Prince Rudolph’s invisible cheeseburger.

Ryan: If you say so! Bye!

Joe: Goodbye forever.

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by Joe Hennes and Ryan Roe

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