The Random Muppet Challenge, Round 6

Published: March 4, 2019
Categories: Feature, Fun Stuff

Joe: Hello, Louie!  Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is your very first appearance here in our ever-popular, world-famous Random Muppet Challenge?

Louie: Yeah, Joe. The fact that you JUST explained to me the rules of how this game works means that you are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT (cue a cute Sesame Street music cue here).

Joe: In that case, let’s explain the rules for anyone else out there who may have missed the first five games we played.

Louie: IF WE MUST.

Joe: The game is thus: You and I will take turns clicking on the Muppet Wiki’s ever-helpful “Random Muppet” button, which provides us with a (you guessed it) random Muppet.

Louie: And who doesn’t need a random Muppet in their lives daily? At least 6 – 65 times a day?

Joe: You said it.  We’ll then read the name of the destiny-chosen Muppet and the other person will have to reveal the Muppet’s performer, production, and a little something about who they are for a total of up to three points.  We’ll go back and forth five times, and the winner will be crowned King of Obscure and Useless Knowledge. Ready to play??

Louie: I’ve been waiting for this my entire life.

Joe: That is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.  I’ll go first:

Your first Random Muppet is… Gretel the Cow!

Louie: Oooo! Gretel the Cow! OK, clearly this is a character related to Gladys the Cow from Sesame Street, I’m guessing it’s her sister who lives in Baltimore and is a Tax Accountant? Probably in true men-playing-women old-school Muppets style, this was Jerry Nelson to play brilliantly off of Richard Hunt? Am I right, boss???

Joe: You know, if you ignore every single detail of what you just said, you’re completely right!  By which I mean, you couldn’t be more wrong. About everything. Ever.

Gretel the Cow predates Sesame Street by a year – she’s a cow who appeared in 1968’s “The Muppets on Puppets” in a sketch about mixed up fairy tales. She’s Hansel’s sister, who jumped over the moon, who gets a kiss from Cinderella, and is then turned into a fairy godmother.  She’s performed by Jim’s pal Frank Oz.

Louie: Oh cool. So how drunk was Jerry Juhl when he thought of that?

Joe: Drunk on milk, maybe?  Talking cow milk?

Louie: That’s very professional for you to clarify Joe.

Louie: Guess it’s my turn to STUMP YOU. Here we go. Your Random Muppet is: Goldilocks!

Joe: I have a feeling there have been several Goldilocks (Goldilockses?) throughout Muppet history. Knowing that Baby Bear somehow starred as a first-tier Sesame Street character for many years, I’d wager she has something to do with him. So, let’s say she found a way to share porridge with him over brunch, and she was played by Stephanie D’Abruzzo. If that’s wrong, I’ll just find some mid-2000s episode that proves you incorrect.

Louie: You know Joe, you are actually very close! Goldilocks is from Sesame Street and served as a foil for Baby Bear for many seasons before becoming his friend! Apparently, she liked copying everything that he did and would steal his porridge. And over the years she was played by like every female Muppet performer ever, Camille Bonora, Alice Dinnean, Jennifer Barnhart, living legend Fran Brill and Leslie Carrara-Rudolph but NEVER Stephanie D’Abruzzo so guess we gotcha there!

Joe: Well damn! If I lose this game by one point, I’m going to watch every episode of Sesame Street with a hint of fairy tale to find a D’Abruzzo Goldilocks, and THEN YOU’LL BE SORRY.


Joe: All’s fair in love and Random Muppet Challenges.

Joe: Your next Random Muppet is: Wendell Porcupine!

Louie: OK – I feel like a bad fan because I have to guess and this one feels like it should be easy? But I see this being a crew member of Long John Silver’s ship in Muppet Treasure Island? I’m going to say played by Kevin Clash? I feel like I’m going to just be so disappointed in myself for this one.

Joe: You are correct.  In that you’ll be disappointed, not in your guess.  I know you know this one, because we’ve watched this special together before.

Louie: Oh NO.

Joe: Wendell Porcupine is a member of Emmet Otter’s band.  In fact, he plays the titular jug in Emmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas.  He loves mashed potatoes, doesn’t know how to divide 50¢ in half, and he is performed by the great Dave Goelz.

Louie: Oooooh boy. I’m fired.

Joe: You’re not fired, but you’re skating on thin ice, friend.

Louie: And there’s ice in that special. I know that much. I see what you did!

Joe: You don’t get extra points for knowing there’s ice.

Louie: Eee! Ice Ice BABY!

Louie: OK, here’s one for you that’s so easy it’s not even funny. Your Random Muppet is: Yorick!

Joe: Okay, so here’s the tough part.  I know there are TWO Yoricks.

Louie: Ugh. Of course you do.

Joe: The first is the purple skull-headed creepster who tried to eat Kermit in “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face” from a classic Sam and Friends sketch.  He didn’t speak, but I’d guess he was performed alternately by Jim Henson and Jane Henson. The other is an actual skull-head from the Christopher Reeve episode of The Muppet Show, used as a prop in a sketch about Shakespeare, and performed by Jerry Nelson.  I’ll guess… the first one?? The Sam and Friends monsterry guy?

Louie: Hah! I tricked you because it was the second one: Muppet Show skull guy with Jerry Nelson’s sexy rasp coming out of it! No points for you.

Joe: Alas, poor Yorick, I knew he would cheat at this game.

Louie: But the fact that you knew there were two is clearly impressive.

Joe: I am Muppet Rain Man. (Not to be confused with the Muppet, Purple Rain Man.)

Louie: And I am just Muppet Tom Cruise.

Joe: Here’s your next Random Muppet: Fairy Godmommy!

Louie: Oh! This seems very Sesame Street-ish so I’m going to guess Sesame Street again. I’m guessing that this is a co-worker of Abby’s from Sesame Street? Maybe it’s her boss, but they go out for drinks on Fridays before going home! Clearly past my time watching Sesame Street, but I’m guessing that Stephanie D’Abruzzo plays this sassy broad with gusto to Leslie Carrara-Rudolph’s less world-weary Abby.

Joe: I’m curious, what do you think Abby Cadabby does for a living?

Louie: Uh. She’s a… tax accountant? From… Baltimore??? Isn’t Sesame Street a workplace comedy set in Baltimore?

Joe: She’s a child, Louie. That would violate child labor laws.

Louie: Yeah, well Big Bird is six and he’s worked at the Sesame Street mine for almost 50 seasons, right?

Joe: Yes, that’s where he mines the birdseed for his milkshakes.

This was a deceptively tricky (yet figure-out-able) one, because the Fairy Godmommy (though introduced in storybooks as far back as 2007) actually debuted just last year, in 2018, as one of the newest Sesame Street characters!  She’s Abby Cadabby’s mom (hence the name), who married a monster who brought his son Rudy (another new Sesame character) into Abby’s life. She’s being performed by Jennifer Barnhart.

Louie: Oh! I get some points! But not really enough to feel good about myself.

Joe: Don’t feel bad.  I don’t know many 30-somethings who know about the latest goings-on over at Sesame Street.  Especially the drama of who married who. This ain’t no soap opera.

Louie: No! It’s a workplace comedy in Baltimore!

Louie: Your next Random Muppet is: Jim Tutter.

Joe: Well, that last name gives part of it away.  He’s obviously some sort of mouse in the Tutter family from Bear in the Big Blue House.  But as much as I want him to be a soft-spoken, bearded mouse with aspirations of being the tiniest puppeteer, it’s more likely he’s Tutter’s relative – perhaps an uncle?  And he’s probably performed by anyone but Peter Linz, so let’s say… Tyler Bunch? Am I close?

Louie: You are so close, I think you deserve full points. He was a “relative” of Tutter’s – it’s not specified how – who was in a family reunion episode. But, Muppet Wiki doesn’t specify who he was played by. He’s also wearing an adorable bowler hat, which is almost as good as being a soft-spoken mouse puppeteer, who invented “The Moussets” to world-wide fame.

Joe: I just really love when Muppets wear collars and ties with no shirts or pants. It feels formal, yet casual. I’d steal that look if it wouldn’t get me arrested.

Louie: I’m wearing it right now. Surprise.

Joe: Guess what? You’ve got another Random Muppet coming up! And it is: Captain Vegetable!

Louie: DO I LOOK LIKE A WEIRDO TO YOU? It is he! Captain Vegetable! With his carrots, and his celery! Eating crunchy vegetables is good for he! Three cheers for him: Captain Vegetable, crunch crunch crunch!

Joe: You have no idea who he is, do you?

Louie: Absolutely none, unless it’s Jim Henson in one of his funniest, most underrated characters singing a song by… Joe Raposo I think from early ’80s Sesame Street???? I’m probably TOTALLY WRONG.

Joe: What if I told you he was played by Richard Hunt?  Would that ruin your day?

Louie: You know, it was a toss-up to me, but he sounds so Guy Smiley-ish!

Joe: Now what if I told you he was played by John Leguizamo? Would THAT ruin your day??

Louie: The only thing that would ruin my day is if Captain Vegetable was actually like a Little Muppet Monster or some nonsense like that.

Joe: Well, you were totally correct.  Jim Henson played him in his first, most memorable appearance, but he came back a few times!  In Muppet form, Richard Hunt portrayed him, and then in 2002, John Leguizamo put on a ridiculous outfit and taught us a little something about nutrients as the third Cap’n Veg.  The only part you weren’t quite right about was the writer of the song: Jeff Moss wrote it, not Joe Raposo.

Louie: Oh yeah, if it’s not Raposo it’s Moss. I guess it wasn’t effortlessly jazzy enough to be Raposo.

Joe: Hey, when it comes to early Sesame, you pretty much have a 50/50 shot at the songwriter.  That said, you still get full points (and full vitamin B) for this round.

Louie: Yeah. Hey Eddie, who loves spaghetti: GROW UP.

Louie: OK Joe, here’s your fourth Muppet Rando: Dr. Phil Van Neuter

Joe: I’m so glad I get to talk about Dr. Phil Van Neuter, because he is legitimately one of my LEAST favorite Muppets of ALL TIME.  I genuinely dislike that guy. I hate his voice, I hate how he looks so much like Andy Dick, and I hate that he’s not Bunsen Honeydew. But I’ll put my vitriol aside for a moment to play this round: He’s the star of Muppets Tonight’s version of Muppet Labs, Tales from the Vet, he’s a mad scientist type with a Frankenstein’s Monster as his sidekick, and he’s performed by 2018 Razzie Award nominee Brian Henson.

Louie: YUP, you are unsurprisingly right, and I like that you brought up Brian Henson’s Razzie nom, because this character reminds me of a Happytime Murders character, and guess what? That’s not a good thing at all!

Joe: Right, when Van Neuter’s most memorable sketch is about him getting drunk on eggnog and making a sloppy ass of himself at a holiday party, that’s one foot in to the Henson Alternative world already.

Louie: Oh yeah, because Muppets Tonight was a… wait for it… workplace sitcom set in BALTIMORE (kill me).

Joe: Everything makes so much sense now!

Joe: Okay, we’re heading in to our fifth and final round of this game!  Your final Random Muppet is: Swampy!

Louie: Ah! Swampy is the everlasting spirit of the Swamp in the oh-so-memorable direct-to-video production from the early 2000’s film Kermit’s Swamp Years, written by Alan Moore! In it, Kermit consults with the Parliament of Trees to decide his destiny and then Swampy swarms out of their mouths and imbues Kermit with the power of the swamp in order to continue his battle against Arcane and his soldiers of pollution. This all makes sense and I am right. Swampy is played by John Tartaglia.

Joe: Louie, you’re so close it hurts.  By which I mean, your entire answer causes me pain.  I was hoping you’d pick up on the idea that Swampy is a Grouch.

Louie: And what’s a Grouch?

Joe: Remember what I said earlier about the thin ice?  So, Swampy was seen in a 2005 episode of Sesame Street, in an episode that you wrote about for ToughPigs in which Donald Grump appears spoofing The Apprentice.

Louie: That’s PRESIDENT Donald Grump to you!

Joe: Not MY Grouch President!  Anyway, he’s one of Grump’s underlings.

Louie: Oh, like Rudy Giuliani!

Joe: Actually, it’s a spoof of Kwame Jackson, who appeared on The Apprentice, and a quick look at his social media feed tells me that he’s not in any way a Trump supporter, so I’m okay with him having a Muppet based on him, unlike Grump who doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near our beloved Muppets.

Louie: You know, I totally thought I got that one completely right and then I remembered that I actually didn’t think that at all!

Louie: LAST MUPPET JOE. I wonder who’s gonna win this one? Anyhoo, here’s your last Muppet: Tuxedos.

Joe: Isn’t it just absolutely ridiculous that this article exists on the Muppet Wiki at all??  I know this one, and it’s like the opposite of Dr. Phil Van Neuter in that I’m so excited to have an opportunity to talk about them because I love them so much.  They’re the singing and dancing rack of tuxedos from the “Somebody’s Getting Married” number in Manhattan Melodies from Muppets Take Manhattan. I know they sing a line, but I bet their voices are uncredited.

Louie: Somebody’s very geeky, today! And you are right! And they don’t have any credited voices but we can totally assume that was Hall & Oates singing, right?

Joe: Either that, or whoever dubbed Charles Grodin’s voice in Great Muppet Caper.

Louie: Absolutely!

Joe: Okay, so let’s tally the score…

Louie: Uh, can we not?

Joe: I need validation!  Looks like I’m walking away with 11 points, to your respectable 4.

Louie: I’m fired, aren’t I?

Joe: What, do I look like Ronald Grump?  You’re not fired. But did you have fun??

Louie: Oh Joe. Learning about the Muppets gives me so much joy and is so lucrative. In joy. I get paid in joy.

Joe: Which reminds me – the government took 70% of your joy in taxes this year.  Sorry. Blame Grump.

Louie: Welp, time to move to Baltimore, there’s a job opportunity there working with Abby Cadabby at her accounting firm!

Click here to star in a workplace comedy set in Baltimore on the ToughPigs forum!

by Joe Hennes and Louie Pearlman

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