A while back, I played a little game called The Random Muppet Challenge with Tough Pigs’ own Anthony Strand. It was so much Muppet-geeky fun, I wanted to play again, and this time I challenged Tough Pigs’ own Joe Hennes to a game. Which of us knows more Muppets? Just how far into the depths of obscurity does our knowledge go? And how might the arbitrary whims of fate influence the game? Read on to find out!
Ryan: Hey there, Tough Pigs’ own Joe Hennes!
Joe: Hello, Mr. Roe!
Ryan: How would you — and I do mean YOU — like to play an exciting game of Random Muppet Challenge?
Joe: I can’t think of anything I would rather do. And there’s a Wii, like, three feet away from me right now. So that’s saying something.
Ryan: Someday Random Muppet Challenge will be available on Wii. And PS3, XBox 360, and ColecoVision. But anyway, do you remember the rules from that time I played with our pal Anthony?
Joe: Mostly. But why not refresh me? And our oh-so-patient audience.
Ryan: This game is based on the magic of Muppet Wiki’s “Random Muppet” button, which takes you to a randomly chosen Muppet character page every time you click it. For each round of play, one of us clicks the button, and reads the name of the character that comes up. Then it’s up to the other player to provide a basic description of the character, the Muppeteer who performed the character, and what production the character comes from.
Also, we’re on the honor system. It would be really easy for us to cheat by looking up the characters we’re supposed to be identifying from memory, but we’re not going to do that because Muppet fans don’t play that, yo.
Joe: Shoot no, homey! Also, I want to add that you are most definitely better at this game than me, since your Muppet memory is off the charts.
Ryan: Has someone been making charts of that? I would love to see those charts. Another thing: We’re not going to cheat by looking at each other’s monitors. That’s right — ludicrous though it may seem, we’re typing these words to each other while sitting in the same room.
Joe: Right, we’re in adjoining desks at ToughPigs HQ. Because… we have an HQ.
Ryan: Right. Say, where’s that intern with my coffee?
Joe: He left for Kinko’s a year ago and never came back. Okay, I’ll push the Wiki button first, and then you can show a chump like me how it’s done.
Ryan: Do your worst!
Joe: Okay, your first character is… George!
Ryan: Hmmm… Just “George?”
Joe: Well, there are some parentheses after his name, but I’m curious as to if you know which George.
Ryan: Does that mean the parentheses give away what production he’s from?
Joe: That is correct.
Ryan: Fair enough. So it’s probably not George the Janitor… and the George who fell into a brook and drowned himself in Rowlf’s song probably doesn’t have a wiki page… So I’m just going to go for a wild guess here.
Joe: Because you’re just wild about guesses!
Ryan: And guesses are just wild about me! George is a rat from Mopatop’s Shop. He was performed by Mike Quinn. And he came into the shop looking for a cheese grater.
Joe: You are going to kick yourself. Literally. George is the Anything Muppet, played by Jerry Nelson, who sang about the two “G” sounds with Grover on Sesame Street. Classic Georgie!
Ryan: GOSHDARN IT. (Another G-word) Man, I can’t believe I didn’t get that — and it’s a bizarre coincidence — because as you know, I was just singing that song on the G subway train this past weekend.
Joe: I remember! I was with you, singing the Grover part.
Ryan: And you were in fine voice. We should have put a hat out for people to toss money in. We would have made at least five G’s.
Ryan: So are you ready for your first Random Muppet?
Joe: I was born ready! Which is strange, since I’m about 25 years older than the Wiki.
Ryan: Okay then. Tell me about… Andrew the Humpback Whale.
Joe: Well, let me just tell you all about that guy.
Ryan: Please do!
Joe: Because, as you may or may not know, Andrew (or Andy, to his pals) is my most favorite Muppet of all time!
Ryan: Weren’t you the one who started that petition for Palisades to make an Andrew the Humpback Whale figure?
Joe: Why, it seems like just yesterday when I saw him on The Animal Show, being performed by Bill Barretta, singing a song about being an ocean-dwelling mammal.
Ryan: You’re right about the Animal Show part, of course.
Joe: Of course!
Ryan: But he was performed by John Eccleston, whom I’m sure you will agree is a puppeteer that I don’t know who he is. He actually didn’t sing a song, he just told Stinky and Jake about different kinds of whales. Also, according to the wiki, “He was interviewed in a leaky tank which started to flood the studio. By the end of the episode, the entire studio was flooded and Andrew had already swam out to sea.”
Joe: I suppose I could’ve said “talks about his species” for any Animal Show character, but I wanted to play the odds.
Ryan: Sure, why not go big? Speaking of which, there’s no picture, but I’d be really curious to see how big the Andrew puppet actually was. Was it a life-size humpback whale?
Joe: I wonder if he was just an eyeball looking through an open doorway.
Ryan: No, that’s “Andrew the Creepy Co-worker.”
Joe: Okay, I have an easy one for you. Your Random Muppet is… Captain Pighead.
Ryan: Oh, I could explain this guy with both hands tied behind my back and typing with my nose!
Joe: Could you?
Ryan: Sure, like this: cagodtjnb st6cer whiornkre obn mupoiuetd tonigt
Joe: WRONG! No points for you!
Ryan: Which translates to: Captain Pighead was the captain of the new Swinetrek in the “Pigs in Space: Deep Dish Nine: The Next Generation of Pigs in Space” sketches on Muppets Tonight. He was performed by Steve Whitmire. And there was this one time where he became the personal slave of supermodel-with-no-last-name Vendela.
Joe: Yes, you are correct. Because you have actually bothered to pay attention during Muppets Tonight.
Ryan: It’s more because I’m a Vendela fan, really. I especially loved Vendela Treasure Island. By the way: “Pigs in Space: Deep Dish Nine: The Next Generation of Pigs in Space.” Is the title of that sketch long enough or what?
Ryan: Okay, here’s your next Random Muppet… Sam-I-Am.
Joe: He is Sam? Sam he am!
Ryan: Yes, he am. He am Sam.
Joe: Well, he obviously am from The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss.
Ryan: Obviously. And wubbulously. Wubbulobviously.
Joe: And I recall him trying to pawn off his moldy brunch on people. And probably other lighthearted wackiness on the TV show.
Ryan: I’ll allow that. The wiki says he’s a “helpful if still cajoling figure.” So if you need anyone cajoled, he’s your man. Your man he am.
Joe: Having seen exactly one episode of the show, I’m going to have to make a random guess at the performer.
Ryan: I’ll give you a hint: Not Stephanie D’Abruzzo.
Joe: Thanks, bro. I’m going to have to guess… Peter Linz? Was he even on that show?
Ryan: In fact, it was Mr. John Kennedy.
Joe: Ah, John Kennedy!
Ryan: He was Sam. Sam he wam.
Joe: John was Sam, Sam was on a TV show I didn’t watch.
Ryan: Dr. Seuss totally should have written a book about you not watching a TV show!
Joe: What do you think Hop on Pop was really about?
Ryan: Whoa, you’re right. Not once in Hop on Hop does Dr. Seuss ever depict Joe Hennes watching TV.
Joe: And stomping on my father was one of my favorite non-TV pasttimes!
Joe: Okay, here’s your next Muppet of Randomness.
Ryan: Lay it on me!
Joe: Co-Dependence Day therapist.
Ryan: What is it with me and Muppets Tonight characters?
Joe: The Muppet Wiki has gained sentience and is targeting you!!
Ryan: So this guy — as his name suggests! — was in the “Co-Dependence Day” sketch.
Joe: WRONG. Okay, right.
Ryan: As I recall, he was performed by Dave Goelz, and he served as a moderator in a therapy session between the president (played by Jerry Nelson) and an alien named Meepzorp (played by Steve Whitmire). And boom goes the dynamite.
Joe: You are good. Or cheating. Probably cheating.
Ryan: Not cheating. Just a nerd.
Joe: Same thing, when you think about it. (I have no idea what I meant by that.)
Ryan: While all the other boys were outside playing football, I was at home watching and re-watching Muppets Tonight.
Joe: In preparation for THIS GAME. Was it worth it, Ryan?? Losing your football scholarship?
Ryan: I have no regrets.
Joe: And the NFL Draft?
Ryan: No regrets!
Joe: And the other.. sports.. references?
Ryan: Okay, okay. I regret “Tales from the Vet.”
Joe: Yeah, everybody regrets that.
Ryan: Okay, now let me ask you: Are you mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared for your next Random Muppet?
Joe: Yes/Yes/No. Let’s do this thing.
Ryan: Your Muppet is… Mac.
Joe: Mac? MAC????
Ryan: And before you say anything: No, it’s not the lovable alien from the classic motion picture Mac and Me. He was most definitely not a Muppet.
Joe: You totally knew that I was going to make that reference. Okay. You can do this, Joe. It’s just mind over matter. Don’t forget to breathe…
Ryan: There’s a chance that it’s buried somewhere in your brain. Or perhaps you can divine the answer by tapping into the collective consciousness that links all of our minds together on a cosmic level. Or just make something up.
Joe: Mac is the second singer in “Meet Me at the Bus Stop” on Sesame Street, performed by Jim Henson, opposite “Joe” as performed by Jerry Nelson. YEAH! NAILED IT!
Ryan: I admire how specific you got there. And I love that song, which makes waiting at the bus stop sounds like the coolest thing ever.
Joe: That means I’m right, right???? RIGHT???
Ryan: You are 0% right.
Joe: Oh, balls.
Ryan: Mac is the dog who sweeps up the Dog House bar in Dog City on The Jim Henson Hour. “Let sweeping dogs lie” and that whole gag.
Joe: Wow. If Mac was anywhere in the recesses of my mind, he was buried deeper than his own bone.
Ryan: Well, dig this: He was performed by Steve Whitmire in one scene, and by Rickey Boyd in another!
Joe: And somehow, I didn’t guess either one. Bummer.
Ryan: Doggone, you might say.
Joe: Okay, I’ve got another Random Muppet for ya. And it’s NOT from Muppets Tonight.
Ryan: Aw, I was hoping it would be Refined Young Cannonball #3.
Joe: Nope. It’s Tungar the Tiger!
Ryan: The fact that his name is “[Name] the [Animal]” suggests that he’s from the Animal Show.
Joe: It does suggest that.
Ryan: And I’m going to say he was performed by Bill Barretta, and he showed a film about how tigers use their stripes to camouflage themselves from predators. And then he told everyone to buy gas at Exxon.
Joe: Sadly, you are incorrect on all counts. It was Shell, not Exxon. Tungar is one of the stars of your favorite Muppet production: Panwapa!
Joe: You should know this, since you have that Panwapa tattoo.
Ryan: Yeah, but my tattoo is of Azibo. It’s been a while since I saw that Panwapa stuff. I did enjoy it, though… It’s too bad it never quite took off as a TV show, or whatever they were trying to do with it.
Joe: Well, if it had, you’d know that Tungar was performed by Nigel Plaskitt and Martin Robinson.
Ryan: Both of them? At the same time?
Joe: Yep. Nigel did the voice, Martin did the puppetry. And Tungar teaches sheep how to play football. So, that’s a thing.
Ryan: Somebody’s got to do something to keep those sheep off the streets.
Joe: It’s either that or selling candy on the subway.
Ryan: “Excuse me, ladies and gentleman! Would anyone like to BAAAAA some candy?”
Joe: “Unfortunately, all I have today is M&M Peanut and Starburst. And bales of hay.”
Ryan: Okay, Joe. Here comes your next Random Muppet! Are you ready for this? I’m not sure you’re going to be ready for this. Because it’s Haman’s Ear.
Joe: Wow. The whole ear?
Ryan: I know, right?!
Joe: The Muppet Wiki is an amazing thing.
Ryan: It really, really is.
Joe: Okay, so there’s not a whole lot of Purim-related Muppet stuff, so that narrows it down. It’s either Rechov Sumsum or Shalom Sesame.
Ryan: See, you have an advantage here simply because you know what Purim is.
Joe: Finally, a good use for all that Hebrew school!
Ryan: If you were a lifelong Presbyterian, you would be out of luck on this one.
Joe: I’m gonna guess that he’s from the Purim episode of Shalom Sesame. And he’s not an actual ear, just a vizier-like guy who assists the evil Haman. (Booooo!) And he’s performed by David Rudman. (Hissssss!)
Ryan: That’s a great guess! Unfortunately, it’s wrong.
Ryan: “On Rechov Sumsum, in a Purim episode, Moishe Oofnik, as Haman, explains how he invented the pastry [hamantashen], having rejected Haman’s Foot and Haman’s Nose.”
Joe: I should’ve known Moishe Oofnik was behind it!
Ryan: “In a follow-up segment, Kippi Ben Kippod reports that a giant Haman’s Ear has escaped from a bakery in Ramat Gan. This monstrous, ravenous foodstuff, with a lolling tongue and sharp teeth but no limbs, proceeds to chase Moishe around the studio.”
Ryan: A sentient, bloodthirsty hamantashen!
Joe: I’m totally okay with not having guessed that. Because it’s ridiculous.
Ryan: In Israeli Sesame Street, hamantashen eat YOU!
Joe: I think you’re rigging this contest. Because you’re getting all the easy ones. Your next Muppet is… Chuckie. It is also.. not fair!
Ryan: The only Chuckie I know (besides Telly’s pet hamster Chuckie Sue, of course) is Fozzie’s ventriloquist’s dummy. When he spoke, he was performed by Jerry Nelson, but he failed to deliver the punchline in Fozzie’s ventriloquist act, mostly because Fozzie didn’t understand how puppets work. I think that was in the Edgar Bergen episode. Of The Muppet Show.
Joe: Man. This game. Watch, my next Random Muppet will be “Charlotte the Stoat”, and then your next one will be “Grover.”
Ryan: Ha! Although it’s worth noting that there are probably lots of people who would call themselves Muppet fans who couldn’t tell you who Chuckie was.
Joe: That’s possible. But you are not most fans, friend.
Ryan: By the way, Joe: Who was that lady I saw you with last night?
Joe: That was no lady, that was Charlotte the Stoat.
Ryan: Here’s another Random Muppet comin’ at ya… Stan (police officer).
Joe: Okay, I think I can get this one.
Ryan: I think you can.
Joe: He’s the MAN! I’m his biggest FAN. I’ve got this one in the CAN! Stan’s the cop who arrests the guy trying to steal the Golden AN on Sesame Street, and he’s performed by… Jim Henson, I think?
Ryan: Not to be confused with Jim HensAN.
Joe: Why would anyone.. nevermind.
Ryan: But yes, you are correct.
Joe: Oh, thank the Good Frog! This game is finally going according to my PLAN!
Joe: Your next Random Muppet is the one and only Galahad!
Ryan: Galahad is a frog! He was in The Frog Prince, where he joined his fellow frogs in telling Robin how much fun it was to be a frog! And he was performed by… Frank Oz!
Joe: You would be 100% correct… if we were talking about Gawain!
Joe: This dude isn’t a frog at all. Not even close!
Ryan: GASP! I thought all those frogs were named after knights of the Round Table.
Joe: Galahad is a knight (natch), played by Kevin Clash.
Ryan: Oh! Was he on Muppets Tonight?
Joe: From the way this game has been going, that’s really the only possible answer.
Ryan: In an Elvis sketch?
Joe: You betcha! And the King Elvis makes fun of his name. The “Gal I Had’, etc.
Ryan: Sure. That’s what I would do if I knew anyone named Galahad. If anyone reading this is named Galahad, please write in and let me know so I can make fun of you.
Ryan: Okay, here’s a Random Muppet for you… Bart.
Joe: Well, I can think of a few Barts. It’s probably not Bad Bart, the black hatted cowboy. Or Bart the Bear, the famous ursine movie star. Or Bart Simpson, the spiky-haired non-Muppet.
Ryan: He was a puppet, though, on that one Christmas episode.
Joe: He sure was! Still not a Muppet, though. Just a poser.
Ryan: But not a poser Muppet.
Joe: An important difference. Bart is Bert’s brother. They may be twins, because they have the same floppy arms and little tuft of hair. And he laughs like “HWAAA HWAA HWAA!” And he may be Brad’s father, but that has yet to be confirmed. And he is played (with gusto) by Frank Oz. On the Sesame Streets.
Ryan: “Gusto” is right. Bart is hilarious.
Joe: He’s one of my favorite one-off Sesame characters. Mostly because of the HWAAs.
Ryan: Exactly. And yet, that’s exactly why I would never want to sit next to him at a restaurant.
Joe: There are few Muppets who I would want to sit next to at a restaurant.
Joe: Okay, so let’s tally up the scores. Because this article is getting to be pretty long.
Ryan: It sure is! Well, if we use actual math, you have a total of 9 points. And… I… have… a total… of…
Joe: The suspense is giving me a slight sense of uncomfortableness!
Ryan: 9 points! It’s a tie!
Ryan: Can you believe it?
Joe: Are you using the Metric system?
Ryan: Good game, old chap.
Joe: Yes, good game, old bean.
Ryan: Too bad we can’t shake hands across the internet. Oh wait, you’re still sitting in the same room as me!
Joe: It’s true. Though I still don’t want to touch. But I’ll give you a “good game” wave!
Ryan: Oh hey, you really waved at me. I should wave back. Okay, I’m waving back at you! Do you see me waving?
Joe: Eh, nope. I’m already watching Game of Thrones in the other room.
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by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com