Transcription provided by Katilyn Miller.
The Muppets Mayhem: Backstage Pass – Episode 4: The Times They Are A-Changin’
JOE HENNES: Hello and welcome to The Muppets Mayhem: Backstage Pass, the unofficial companion podcast to The Muppets Mayhem presented by Toughpigs.com. This is the podcast where we tour through every episode of The Muppets Mayhem to uncover behind the scenes stories, Easter eggs and more with the talented cast and crew, who helped put the series together. I’m your host, dedicated Mayhead, Joe Hennes.
JOE: Today, we are talking about Track Four: The Times They Are A-Changin’, in which the band collaborates with a bunch of musicians and sisters, Nora and Hannah, don’t collaborate with each other at all.
This week, we are simply bursting with amazing guests. First up, he’s a co-creator and executive producer of The Muppets Mayhem. Please welcome Jeff Yorkes back to the podcast. Hey, Jeff.
JEFF YORKES: Hi. Thanks for having me back.
BILL BARRETTA: Woooooo! Woooooo! Woooo!
JOE: Thanks for coming back. Glad you made it. Next up, he’s another co-creator and executive producer as well as the performer behind that consummate ivory tickler, Dr. Teeth. Please welcome Bill Barretta back to the podcast. Hello, Bill.
BILL: Woooo! Wooooo! Woooo!
JOE: And there’s an ambulance going by. [laughs] Next up, an actress who has appeared on Degrassi: The Next Generation, The Mysterious Benedict Society and that terrific film, The Breadwinner. On The Muppets Mayhem, she plays the social media influencer, Hannah. Please welcome Saara Chaudry to the podcast. Hi, Saara.
BILL: Woooo! Wooooo!
SAARA CHAUDRY: Hi!
JOE: Thank you for being here.
SAARA: Thanks for having us.
JOE: Finally, we have an actress and Youtube superstar, who performs the budding record executive and Electric Mayhem band manager, Nora. Please welcome Lilly Singh to the podcast. Hi, Lilly!
LILLY SINGH: How’s it going? Thanks for having us.
JOE: Wonderful, such a treat to get to talk to you both. And also I just have to tell you, you’ve done such an incredible job on this show. I love both of your characters so much and it must be so difficult to find ways to be entertaining as humans amongst all the chaos of the Muppets. Is that true? It must be.
LILLY: 100 percent. You know what? It was my dream. I was like, oh my god, I got this role. For the first time in my life I might be number one on the call. And then I got humbled real quick when all of the Muppets were one to six on the call.
LILLY: I was like, “Oh yeah. This is about them.” But it’s been a joy to just be alongside them because they’re the stars of the show. We get to help make them shine. So it’s really awesome.
JOE: It’s true. Can you each give us just a real brief recap about how you learned about the project? What your auditions were like? How you got the role? Saara, we can start with you.
SAARA: Yeah, sure. As with most projects, I received an email from my team just letting me know what the project was. That they were interested in having me tape for it. I’d gone through a couple rounds of self tapes that I made at home. I was actually shooting… one of them was made in Toronto and I actually watched my first audition the other day. Just for fun.
BILL: Oh you did?
SAARA: Yeah. For a little full circle moment. I still have it.
BILL: Do you see a difference. Do you see a difference? Oh, I guess you haven’t seen the last one then, right? You saw your first one, you said?
BILL: It’d be interesting to see the difference if there was any adjustments you made or things you changed.
SAARA: There were. There were. I remember getting like notes back and I remember freaking out because one of the emails halfway through the audition process was like casting saying to my team, “She’s very right for this.” And I was like, “What does that mean? Oh my god.”
BILL: [laughs] You were and are.
SAARA: But yeah. And then my last round of auditions was with or like the last screen test, I guess, was with Lilly over Zoom. And that’s when I met all of you lovely humans. And yeah.
BILL: We knew it.
JEFF: I don’t recall. Was it the same scene that you read each time? Do you remember what it was?
SAARA: Yeah, it was the same two scenes. It was, one of the scenes is in this episode that we’re about to talk about. And then the other scene was one of the scenes from episode one. I think.
JEFF: Right. Was it the scene in the den during the PowerPoint presentation?
SAARA: Yeah, it’s the PowerPoint that we cut.
JOE: You’ll have to point out the scene in this episode once get there.
SAARA: I will. I will. Yeah.
BILL: But the chemistry was so clear when we saw them do it together and you could imagine. I mean, it’s hard, too over Zoom, but you could just tell it felt right.
JEFF: Lilly, what was it like for you?
LILLY: Well, yeah, I’m kind of in the same boat. I got an email and at this point in my life, I was very much was prioritizing fun. You know, I’ve done a lot of cool things in my life, but I was like, I want to just make sure whatever projects I do next are fun and full of joy. And so when I got an email about the Muppets, I was like, the universe has answered my call because there’s not many other things that are as joyous as the Muppets. So I auditioned as well. I was traveling. I did a few tapes and then I also had to do a chemistry over Zoom with Bill and Jeff and everyone.
And I remember calling my agent being like, “Are there gonna be Muppets on this Zoom right now? Am I gonna log on and there’s Muppets on the Zoom? Like I need to know.” There were not. It was Bill, but it was still good. It was still good. And I will never forget this, it was my reminder to always be a good and kind human being, because the moment I signed on to Zoom Bill said to me, “You don’t remember this. But we’ve met before.” And I went, “Uh oh, tell me how we’ve met before.” And he said, “You shot with the Swedish Chef and you were kind enough to make my son a video who was a fan. And my response was, “Yes, I am that kindness person that did that. I’m glad that you remember that right now, at the beginning of this audition.”
JEFF: Sure. Yeah. Yeah.
BILL: It was for his birthday too. You said happy birthday to him. Oh, he just couldn’t believe it. He was like, so taken and I never forgot that.
LILLY: And here we are, baby.
JEFF: Here we are.
SAARA: I’m gonna second that. I think the first impression I got when we logged on, I did one scene on my own and then Lilly came on or it was vice versa. I don’t know. But the first thing that she said to me, she was like, “Hey.” And immediately, she was like, ‘“Okay. So this is what we’re gonna do.” She did care that all the guys were on the Zoom.
JEFF: The control.
SAARA: She was like I’m gonna tell you what we’re doing.
SAARA: And like,”Let me tell you, all is good. We’re just gonna have fun. Just be present with me like whatever.” And I was just like,”Oh my god. Nerves gone.”
SAARA: I was just like, Okay. I’m here.
LILLY: It’s really sweet and also annoying of me, because I’m a control freak obviously.
JEFF: Very Nora. It’s very nora.
BILL: No, and we were just taken with Lilly right away, you know, because she had… We knew she had a very playful side, right? Because I was familiar with her social media side of her world and her talk show. But to see her play something a little more…
BILL: …I don’t want to say big but just grounded.
LILLY: No. Grounded.
BILL: Real. True. Was just amazing because it did seem effortless, you know? She just… it didn’t seem like she’d been doing anything other than that. So I just thought, wow. She’s great.
LILLY: Thanks, guys.
BILL: Yeah, yeah.
LILLY: Best podcast ever.
JOE: Yeah. This is just a backpatting podcast. We’re just going to compliment each other for the next hour.
BILL: Yeah, you guys are unbelievable.
LILLY: No, you.
BILL: Like you are the most beautiful and lovely people.
LILLY: No, you are.
BILL: Oh no. You are.
LILLY: No, you are.
BILL: Come on. No, you are.
JOE: Do you remember what the first thing you filmed with the Muppets was for the show, for each of you?
LILLY: I do. My first scene I’m quite certain was after the band has their rager and I come in to be like, “What are you doing? Why did you have that rager in the backyard? Everyone’s gonna be mad. The cops are gonna be mad. I told you to get out of the shack.” It was the first scene with all of the band members. It was a huge setup. I remember, it was a huge camera movement as well. We had this camera doing like a 360 turnover on Animal’s drum set.
JEFF: Spinning around. And cut.
LILLY: Yes. It was like a huge scene I was thrust into and I was just like fronting. I was like, “Okay, we’re gonna pretend we’re not freaking out. We’re gonna do this scene.” But I was dying inside for sure.
JOE: Yeah. Like right in the middle of the chaos too.
JOE: I’m sure that helped.
JEFF: I think we cut that.
SAARA: Yeah, I think mine was similar. I can’t remember whether it was a group scene first or whether it was just…I think it was a group scene first where it was all of us at once. It was the scene where Animal is chasing JJ. And Tahj has like tea or something and drops it.
JEFF: From episode 7?
SAARA: Yeah, we were shooting out of order.
SAARA: Because remember I came in like two weeks later.
BILL: I thought you did the party scene at your house, at Saara’s house first.
SAARA: That was…
BILL: Wasn’t it?
SAARA: No no. You remember that pink outfit where my hair was in a bun.
BILL: Oh yeah. Yeah, your bun.
SAARA: Yeah. That’s how I remember that that was the first thing.
BILL: Oh, okay.
SAARA: And then, later in the day I had scenes alone and I was like, “Oh my god.” And alone as in just me and Zoot. And just me and Floyd.
SAARA: And it was me giving Zoot a haircut and doing Floyd’s makeup or something?
BILL: And Tahj’s makeup too.
JEFF: Right. Floyd in the chair.
SAARA: I think that was the next day.
BILL: Oh, I see.
SAARA: Or it might have been all on the same day, who knows?
BILL: I can’t remember. It was so many, like you said, you guys had to jump around from show to show and scene to scene.
SAARA: yeah. But I just remember it being chaos and Dave [Goelz] in the scene where I was cutting Zoot’s hair. Dave was on a little rollie underneath me and I was like, “Whoa! This is so crazy.” This is like the magic and the madness and the science behind how these guys make this work. I had no warning going in. They were just like, “By the way, like sets are built like three, four feet up. Enjoy. Have fun.” Like I was just, I had no warning. I didn’t know that there were holes in the ground I had to not fall in.
SAARA: Yeah. It was pretty, pretty awesome. And Bill, I remember you came up to Dave when we were shooting that scene where I’m cutting his hair.
SAARA: And you whispered something in his ear.
BILL: Oh really?
SAARA: Do you remember what it was? Because you whispered something in his ear and I was like, “Oh, do you have notes for me?” [laughs] And you were just dead silent. And you were like, “No.”
BILL: Nothing for you. You’re good.
SAARA: Yeah, nothing for you. And all I remember being able to hear was like, [whispers] “Just surprise her.” [in normal voice] That’s all I remember hearing.
BILL: Oh. I don’t remember what I said. I wish I did. I have a terrible memory. I wish I did remember what it was. But I do recall now the bit about– [laughs] I had nothing. I thought you were just great. I just wanted Dave to mess with you a little bit I guess.
SAARA: Yeah. I was like this is a test.
BILL: Something different I guess.
SAARA: This is a first day test. See if I can riff off the Muppets energy.
BILL: Yeah. [laughs]
JEFF: You were being hazed.
SAARA: I think it worked but it was pretty cool.
BILL: Hey Joe, can I just ask one quick question that we asked Tahj?
JOE: Yeah. Of course.
BILL: I’m just curious. The idea of shooting out of order the way we did, shows scenes. How did you feel about that process? Because in one way it’s a big long movie, right? So, you have all that information ahead of time. Does that feed your character? Or does it do both? Does it feed your character but then is it difficult because now you’ve got to remember where you were in that episode. Is it a beneficial thing? What are the pros and cons to being an actor who has to kind of block shoot and approach scenes like that?
LILLY: I mean, for me personally, I think there’s pros and cons. I’ve never had an experience where I shot something in order beginning to end. I’ve never had that experience. It feels like that would be really cool because you’d be able to know where your character is at all times and you wouldn’t have to go back and figure it out. Having said that from like a human standpoint, getting to be able to know people and me getting to be able to know Saara and know Tahj. And then, okay, now we have a scene where we’re at a party, we’re supposed to be really good friends. We’re actually really good friends at that point. So there’s no lying.
But I won’t lie, for me, I had to, before we shot any scene, I did have to read everything before and everything after to be like, I had notes to my script that was like, Nora right now is still really insecure because X, Y, Zed just happened before this. This has not happened yet. So you do have to put yourself in that headspace which is a little challenging but like that’s part of the fun.
JEFF: Did you say X, Y, Zed?
LILLY: Yes, I’m Canadian. X, Y, Zed, baby. X, Y, Zed.
JOE: I thought you were talking about the music producer who appears in the show?
LILLY: Is that crazy how so many people from around the world say Zed. It’s almost like it’s the correct way to say it. [laughs]
JOE: Well, I think we’ve just had some shade thrown in our direction as Americans.
BILL: Well, how about Saara. I’m just curious, Saara, if she had her feelings toward that.
SAARA: Right before, I think it was like the summer before we shot Muppets, I had shot a show, like we shot three seasons, season three, four and five of a show that I’d been doing for a little while, all at once. And so after that experience, I was like, I am ready for war. Like I am ready for anything. But at that point, we were jumping from season five to season three to season– midway through season four in a day.
JEFF: Oh, wow.
SAARA: So yeah, yeah, yeah.
BILL: That’s big.
SAARA: So it was kind of nuts. But it was really amazing practice for me as an actor to kind of jump between and be able to just fine tune skill in that way. Just to be able to jump back and forth and to be able to pivot at any point during the day, into a different stage of a character’s life. And so it was a challenge, of course, but it wasn’t something out of the ordinary for me.
BILL: So we were a breeze.
SAARA: [laughs] When you’re working with wonderful people around you, that are there to remind you like what your character had just been through or what she was thinking about, in that moment.
LILLY: I think that when shooting with the Muppets the greatest challenge is not block shooting.
[Bill and Lilly laugh]
LILLY: The greatest challenge is, I just need one of you to be able to grab the phone that’s in my hand with the Muppets. That’s the greatest challenge. It’s Animal can you just take this prop from me, please? Can this not be a six-hour set up?
JOE: Yep. Muppets are hard to work with and–
JOE: I hope well, I mean they’re a delight but they’re difficult.
BILL: I see.
JOE: But let’s talk about this episode where the Muppets get to do things that maybe there were some more six-hour setups. We start our cold open, we’re back in the Mayhem van. We got a couple of Easter eggs, right off the bat. We see a billboard for JJ’s music app, Jfinity, in the background.
JEFF: I made that.
JOE: I had a feeling you did. And then they pass a Pizza Twins restaurant.
JEFF: I did that.
JOE: Of course, the Pizza Twins from The Great Muppet Caper. Saara or Lilly, did you know what the Pizza Twins were before I mentioned it just now?
LILLY: Both of these things are news to me. Honestly, both of these things.
JEFF: So, just very quickly, we had to remove stuff so you couldn’t have like a billboard for Freevee or something like that. And so we were gonna remove it. Well, if you’re going to remove it, can we replace it? And so that, for me, was an opportunity. Let’s make it something that fit. So yeah, to have Jfinity, JJ’s company, that was great. And then the last shot was just very quick, but yeah, it’s a Great Muppet Caper reference.
JOE: Yeah, Jeff basically made references specifically for me. This is for me to pause and be like, “I see you, I get it. You’re a fan too. Thank you.” So the Mayhem is singing a medley of public domain songs, including She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain and Jingle Bells and Take Me Out to the Ball Game. Ave Maria! Which got a huge laugh out of me. And they start debating what they should sing next. Maybe Beatles, Bowie, Jimi Hendrix.
And naturally, you know, you’re allowed to sing whatever song you want for free in your own van. Like “Stairway to Heaven.” And you all kind of do this deep stare directly into the barrel of the camera. Which is hysterical. This must have come…This whole sequence must have come from your own frustration in what music you can and can’t use. Is that accurate?
BILL: That was Adam [Goldberg] right?
JEFF: Yeah, right. To some degree, we did have part of our budget was for music, we definitely knew that, but then also we’re obviously playing off the fact that, you know, some things you cannot use at all or cost more than our entire series to use. So that’s a little commentary.
BILL: Like “Stairway to Heaven.” We couldn’t even do the first note.
JEFF: Note. Yeah.
BILL: We had to cut out before they start.
JOE: They own the note?
BILL: I think so.
JOE: Can you own a note? All right. I mean good for you Led Zeppelin. I don’t own a note. Picking up from last week’s episode, we had a cliffhanger. Moog fell through the floor. And he found a secret recording studio underneath the shack. And what’s down there, besides the recording studio? It’s Cheech and Chong! The real Cheech and Chong. What a delight to see those two again.
JEFF: Saara, how excited were you to see Cheech and Chong?
BILL: Saara knew them. She has all the records.
SAARA: No, I actually did. Like, my parents were like, “We know these guys.” Because I started the show when I was 17. So I still had my parents with me on set for a little while.
JEFF: Who are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life.
LILLY: Yup. Big fans. Big fans.
BILL:Oh my god. Oh, they’re so amazing.
SAARA: Oh, I’m a big fan as well. I think I’ll keep them.
SAARA: But, yeah, I remember we showed up to set that day and my mom saw Cheech and Chong on one of the trailers and she was like [gasps]. And my mom doesn’t really care. Like my mom is, so… you know my mom. She like actually doesn’t care. Like it’s very hard to impress this woman. And so she was like, “It’s kind of cool.” That was it! I was like, that’s how I know that she actually thinks it’s cool because she said “kind of cool.”
LILLY: Asian parents’ ultimate compliment like, “Pretty good.”
LILLY: Ultimate compliment.
SAARA: Yeah, or just like the head nod and you’re just like, “Ah, they recognize it.”
JEFF: They were a big get for us. We were excited.
SAARA: It was super cool.
BILL: Oh my gosh.
JEFF: Just the idea that maybe we could…because I didn’t think they did that many, at least recently, things together.
JOE: No, I did some research into it. They’ve done a lot of animated things.
JOE: Things where they don’t actually have to be present or do interviews together or whatever. I know they had talked about doing a new Cheech and Chong movie, I don’t around 2008 or so. So they were obviously working together. But it’s rare to see them on screen in character like this.
JEFF: Together and they’re wearing costumes that are reminiscent of their old school vibe. Yeah, it was great. I thought we were sort of making history, it felt like.
BILL: I kind of freaked out because we knew that we had got them to come in, they’re coming. And so I kind of tried to tailor our script to their cadence; what I remembered as a kid. The man’s. And you know, how many mans they say after things. And I went and spoke to Tommy Chong and asked him how it felt, he goes, “Well yeah, this feels like us, man.” Yeaaaaah.
JOE: That’s a good compliment. Yeah. I like that.
BILL: It was great. Felt really good. Yeah.
SAARA: Were you there in the hair and makeup trailer, Lilly, when they gave out little gifts?
LILLY: No, I was not.
BILL: Did you guys get gifts?
JEFF: Oh, I didn’t get a gift.
JOE: What’d you get?
BILL: I know what kind of gifts those are.
JEFF: What do you think?
SAARA: I say gifts. For context. I was 17 and did not receive a gift.
JOE: Aahhhhh. Still, that’s a great story.
BILL: They have a business.
JOE: That’s something you’re gonna tell. Not a lot of people get to say that. Yeah.
JEFF: I’ll tell you, Adam has never let me forget that,because he loves to write people into his shows just so he can meet them, to have them sign his toys and stuff like that. And so, he wasn’t there that morning and I hurried over with a record to have Cheech and Chong sign. And I came back I’m like, “I got my record signed.” He’s, like, “Yeah, did you get my toy car signed?” I said, “No. I did not”. He’s like, “Uh-huh.” And he has not let me forget that I did not get his Cheech and Chong toy car signed.
LILLY: That sound was such a good Adam impersonation. That’s exactly the sound he makes.
SAARA: Yeah. That was really good.
JEFF: I think it caused a great divide in our friendship.
JOE: I’m so sorry.
JEFF: It’s alright.
BILL: When Moog falls through the floor and you see him downstairs, there’s a light that’s coming through the window. And you see there’s dust and smoke and little particles of things.
JEFF: Dust motes and stuff.
BILL: That’s Jeff’s attention to detail. There wasn’t any of that there. And he was like, “You know what, we gotta feel that. Can we have some of that? And it was like a few couple rounds of going back with notes. You see it but you don’t realize all the details and how much detail Jeff thinks about when it comes to things like that. It’s really cool. If you go back and look, it’s beautiful.
LILLY: One of the things about working on the show is I very quickly learned how much everyone cared about all the tiny details. And I, as a creative, I super appreciated that because it’s definitely not like…I’m gonna be real with you, day one, at the end of day one, I was like, “Oh, we’re like 17 days behind.” We were so behind on day one because they were like, “No, we’re not sacrificing the details.” And I so appreciated that. That we’d redo takes for the smallest things.
JEFF: I think one day, I went up to Lilly, and I was just like, “How’s everything going?” And you’re just like, “I have a question. When are we gonna shoot all the stuff we were not able to shoot over the past four days.” And again, Adam and I were writing and writing out of a hole and I’m like, “What? What do you mean?” And you’re like, “So how’s this gonna work? How are we gonna shoot all this?” And I had no idea and I was terrified and I just never wanted to talk to Lilly again.
LILLY: But no, it was great. It was just like, “Oh my god, the call sheet is literally a suggestion. They’re just suggesting things that may or may not happen.” But it all got done and it’s all amazing.
BILL: Because there is a thing, when we start a production it’s always something I say right away, especially for people who haven’t had the opportunity of working with the Muppets. There’s a learning curve that happens and you don’t catch up for two weeks, right? The whole crew doesn’t really become a machine, this thing that’s just moving along. It takes a couple weeks of you, depending on the amount of time that you have to shoot your thing, whatever you’re doing. But if it’s a week, it takes a couple days for everybody to get up to speed.
And once that happens, it all kicks in. And we kind of catch up. But it’s that first thing that everybody wonders [laughs] which is, “How is this ever going to get done? You know, this is impossible.” But we get there.
JOE: Yeah and that attention to detail is blatant on screen. Like we can all see it for sure. So it’s much appreciated. So down in the basement here they find a TV-VCR combo. They turn it on. We see the Mayhem singing “Rockin’ Robin” from The Muppet Show. It’s from the Jean-Pierre Rampal episode, in case anyone’s curious. And so great to hear Richard Hunt’s voice on this show. It’s been a while since we’ve heard him in a Muppet performance.
JEFF: Yeah. Playing the original Janice. Yeah.
BILL: Yeah, he was Janice.
JOE: Yeah, exactly. The band starts singing along, everyone’s singing “Rockin’ Robin,” and they are interrupted by Penny and JJ. I liked this little moment where Nora says BRB and Dr. Teeth goes, “Oh, bring your own root beer.” Like I had to rewind to be like, “Did I hear that right?”
BILL: We just made it up. I don’t know. It was just stupid. I just made it up.
JEFF: So funny.
JOE: It was stupid but I got it. I liked it. Oh and Cheech and Chong also ask Zoot for a dime for the pay phone and Zoot holds out his hand and the dime levitates.
JOE: And it’s not commented on.
JOE: We don’t ever come back to anything like that. We’re just gonna let it sit.
BILL: They’re probably the only two humans in the show that see Zoot’s surreal bubble.
JEFF: They’re just tuned into that vibe.
JOE: Aahhhh. I liked that.
BILL: [laughs] Yeah, that they’re on that level with Zoot.
BILL: They’re the only people, otherwise, it’s just Zoot and the audience that acknowledge…
JEFF: They may have given each other gifts.
BILL: …what’s happening. Yeah, that’s right. They could have gotten Saara’s gift to Zoot.
JEFF: [imitating Chong] If she’s not going to take it so maybe I’ll hold on to it.
JOE: I mean, maybe that dime at one point was in a bag. Think about that.
BILL: A dime bag.
JOE: And Chong thanks him. He says, “Thanks, Dave.” That’s a reference to a Cheech and Chong thing.
JEFF: [imitating Chong] Thanks, Dave.
JOE: Yeah, Dave’s not home, man.
BILL: It’s also Dave Goelz by the way, it’s got a double thing, you know.
JOE: Oh, that’s true.
SAARA: I definitely thought that was just them talking to Dave.
BILL: I know. Some people, I figured some people would. Yeah.
JOE: So Dave Goelz, the whole time, was the guy who was not home. The whole time.
JEFF: It’s one of their old bits. It’s one of their old comedy bits.
BILL: Yeah. That’s what it was written for.
BILL: And then you don’t realize until you’re doing it that Dave’s the guy who’s actually performing Zoot. [laughs]
JOE: Oh, that’s so good. Nora and JJ are talking. Animal pops his head through the hole in the floor and says, “JJ bad.” Was that hole, I mean, there’s holes in the floor all over the place so I assume it’s a real hole. You didn’t just matte two shots together. Is that accurate?
BILL: Yeah. Because we’re on a raised deck, right? So the decking is four feet off of the ground. So it’s really just a hole that’s in one of the decks. And Eric is underneath.
LILLY: I also want to point out because I was– You know, there’s a lot of moments in the show where I’m proud of what we made. But in this moment, I’m particularly proud of myself because I perfectly throw that rug over that hole with such precision and aim. Where I was like, “Oh, I did not think I could do that.” But do you guys remember how proud I was with myself for doing that perfect toss?
BILL: Yes. Yes.
LILLY: Ah, an athlete. An athlete basically.
BILL: Many of those things you did perfectly.
JOE: I did notice it almost looked like CG the way that like, it’s a perfect little dip in that hole.
LILLY: Thank you.
JEFF: That rug was almost played by the rug from Aladdin but because Lilly nailed it that rug didn’t have a part.
BILL: It wasn’t available.
JOE: So do you want to talk a little bit about working with Anders Holm because you share a lot of scenes together.
LILLY: Anders is just a joy to work with. He is… You know, it’s funny, he’s one of those people, who doesn’t really turn off in the best way. Like, he’s always cracking jokes. He’s such a joy to work with. He’s actually so sweet and kind. And so that’s why I thought he did such a good job with JJ because he really taps into a version of himself that’s just so aggravating in like a charming way. But I really had a blast working with him. We’ve actually become like good friends. But yeah, there’s definitely something he taps into for JJ that is like, I’m attracted to this guy and he’s charming, but I also like hate him so much. So he hits that balance perfectly, in my opinion.
BILL: He’s so funny. He’s so clever too. Like his wit is just so dry at times.
JEFF: Bone dry.
BILL: It’s so great. So great.
JOE: So Nora tells the band she wants something new and fresh for their sounds. Dr. Teeth suggests switching instruments. We see the band trying on new outfits. Their polka outfits from Muppets Take Manhattan. I assume it’s the same ones. They look identical to that shot from Muppets Take Manhattan.
BILL: Yep. Well, yeah, they found them, but they had to…
BILL: …Fix them up.
BILL: And I think they made one for Lips.
JOE: Oh, right. Yeah, of course. But Nora wants a sound that skews a little bit younger than their classic rock feels. So maybe a hot new music collab. And that’s going to be kind of the theme throughout this episode, all these collaborations. Nora and Moog have a conversation outside. He wants to help the Mayhem because he knows the sound so well. And to prove that he’s got producing skills, he opens up his trailer and we see like the bed folds down.
LILLY: We should talk about the trailer.
JEFF: Oh, I wish Adam was on this one.
LILLY: We should talk about the trailer.
JOE: Tell me all about this trailer. Yeah.
LILLY: This scene with Moog revealing his trailer is probably, I’m gonna say this scene that was most reshot in the entire series.
LILLY: I think we shot that scene three times. Correct me if I’m wrong.
BILL: You could be right. I think it was three total. Yeah.
LILLY: Moog’s trailer looked super different the first time we shot it.
JEFF: The interior. The interior.
LILLY: The interior was really different. It wasn’t as modern. It was much more like DIY. Things falling from random places. It was so cool, but then it got redone to be more modern. But we shot the scene three different times. So I feel like I still have that scene memorized and I will go to my grave with that scene because it is muscle memory.
BILL: Can I say, we did shoot three times, but I don’t think we shot the whole scene three times. We shot the whole scene twice. And then we had to do a pickup or something. Right? To do it again on a greenscreen. What was it?
BILL: Like we had to do a pick up or something.
LILLY: Because the second time we shot it, we had the location again but because we had to push it out we did not have that shack location. So I think we did do a green screen. But I remember me and Tahj, when we were at the premiere we were like, “Okay, It’s either going to look like how we shot it, or they’re going to have CGI’d it and it’s going to be a spaceship now because it could be anything at this point.
JEFF: Totally. Right. And you’re like, “Oh, it’s empty. Okay, that’s cool.”
JOE: Especially because Nora goes like, “Wow. That’s so impressive.” And it would be so impressive. It’s like, “Look. I produce albums in a void. There’s nothing here.” I would be impressed by that.
BILL: I’ll say that I prefer the original one, to be honest. That was my take. I just thought it was in my mind, what I imagined was Moog’s trailer. More posters more like a guy had been living in it.
JEFF: DIY. Yeah.
BILL: Yeah. And this new one, which I get too. I mean, I understand the reason behind it and why Adam liked it, but it felt a little more like some like hip hotel. [laughs] You know. In the back of your trailer but it’s pretty cool. The idea was to have these drop down things that open up and he was kind of mechanically inclined and he had a cool space. But the decor was the difference, really.
LILLY: Shoutouts to the team that makes all of that. Really cool stuff work.
BILL: Oh my god.
LILLY: Because there were a few takes where I was like, “Wow!” and I’m reacting to the shelf going like, “Eeerrrr.” And like nothing’s working and I was like, “Wow, that’s so cool.”
LILLY: And they got it to work and it was awesome. But it’s a lot of pieces and bits and bobs for sure.
JOE: That’s more of a compliment to your performance that you’re able to look at an empty room and go, “Whoooaa!”
LILLY: Did I just actually compliment myself? Fine. I’ll take that. No, no. What I’m saying, it was such a difficult thing to execute and I feel like, shout out to just the crew that makes all of this stuff. Whether it’s the hot tub that Teeth was in or the truck that Moog is in. It’s just, it’s really impressive.
JOE: Yeah, absolutely. The next scene is Nora in Janice’s bedroom. She has moved in and it’s a cool room like the stained glass on the walls and the floor’s completely covered in pillows.
LILLY: One of my favorite scenes in the series too.
JOE: Oh, really?
BILL: Yeah. Beautiful.
LILLY: I think the reason is because it’s–It was one of the scenes, I’m going to say for me, the number one scene where I could not see any human while shooting that scene. In most other scenes, whether, you know, it was a hot tub with Teeth, you could see people in green suits or blue suits. Or you see people under the deck. But there was no deck that was visible to me. And there was no human at all visible to me.
JEFF: That’s really interesting.
LILLY: So, this is the one where I was like, Janice is absolutely moving by herself. And a real human being right now. It really was like super trippy for me to shoot and super hard to walk because of all the pillows. So, I was just like in a different world while shooting that scene.
BILL: And then the complete opposite is it was probably David Rudman’s worst scene because he didn’t have any other space.
[Jeff talks through muffled hand]
BILL: [laughs] Except to be through a hole and stuck under there.
JOE: But what an easy way to hide a puppeteer is to have a room that’s completely filled with pillows.
JOE: That worked really well.
BILL: Well, he was still stuck through the floor because all the pillows had to be supported. So he still was really that was just a hole for him that his arm went through and everything was dressed around it.
JEFF: And then Rudman’s being operated by Eric.
BILL: That’s right. And actually, you know, for people who don’t know too, you know, we have these kind of four foot by four foot square decking that we use to make these rooms so that we can take them in and out to create holes and spaces for the Muppet performers. And sometimes we use a two foot by four foot piece. So it’s half and we lay the pillows down and so at least we have a little more air to breathe and see things and have somebody assist us. So it’s not just always a hole. I was exaggerating a bit but still. Yeah probably David’s not his favorite but I’m glad it worked for you though. That’s good.
JOE: Janice is very excited to have a new roomie. They’re gonna stay up late. Braid each other’s hair. Use astral projection to dream share. Be just like sisters which maybe wasn’t the best thing to say because there’s still all this contention between Nora and Hannah.
It’s a shame because Hannah is the only one that Nora knows who has all these celebrity connections. And as she says that Lips pops in, says a bunch of nonsense because he booked a whole bunch of famous musicians because he knows everyone. How convenient that he happens to be here.
LILLY: Totally. Everyone always asks in so many interviews people asked, if you could be friends with any Muppet…No offense, anyone else, but Lips has the connections. And you set him up as this character throughout the series where he knows. Everyone’s a phone call away. He knows everyone. So this scene makes total sense.
BILL: And not even just celebrities. Like he knows the best plumber.
BILL: Right? He just knows everybody. Everybody loves Lips.
JOE: Do you only want to be friends with Lips so that he can hook you up with other celebrities? You just want to use him as a friend?
LILLY: That’s not the only reason. I do think the key to friendship is not always completely understanding your friends because sometimes they say annoying things. So I feel like less arguments would happen, if there was a slight– They say communication is the key to success but Lips has proved otherwise.
JOE: Oh, that’s a good point. So, now we see Hannah for the first time in this episode. She’s got Janice on her Instagram Live for a makeup tutorial. I like that the first thing you do is you say, “We’re gonna start with a light shadow to open up the eye a little bit.” Which is hysterical, because Janice and her eyes.
JOE: And Janice is using everything as a metaphor for sisterhood trying to convince Hannah to open up to her sister and you know how it goes. Janice has this life mission to bring people together. Like, remember the time the Rolling Stones broke up? They didn’t. Because Janice kept them together.
SAARA: The Stones never broke up.
JOE: They never broke up. Thanks, Janice.
JEFF: One of our writers is also named Hannah and it became a very difficult thing to navigate in the writer’s room. When we’d refer to Hannah, the character, and Hannah.
SAARA: You know, I had trouble with the name at first too.
BILL: Oh yeah.
SAARA: Because Hannah’s my cousin’s name.
BILL: Oh, really?
SAARA: Yeah. And my cousins are like my best friends. They’re like my siblings. And so we all grew up around each other. It wasn’t like those cousins that live across the country that you saw every once in a while.
SAARA: My cousins and I are like besties and so it was weird at first. I was like, “This is not right.”
JEFF: It’s confusing. Our writer Hannah was banana. We called her Hannah Banana so she was referred to as Banana.
LILLY: That’s so wild because I have an uncle named Dr. Teeth. So that’s so wild.
BILL: Oh wow. That’s amazing. I have lilies in my yard.
[Lilly and Bill laugh]
JOE: So Saara, did you get any advice from Lilly on how to be an influencer? Because obviously Lilly has such a huge following and this is like your whole deal.
SAARA: No, actually. [laughs]
SAARA: No, we didn’t have any conversation. I mean, Lilly is herself and iconic as she is but I think also as… Yeah, when I was shooting the show 17, 18 year-old…I mean social media and whatnot just comes very naturally whether or not you’re super active on social media or not. I think growing up as a part of my generation, it’s just something that is part of the zeitgeist. It’s just something you live and breathe whether or not you’re on social media or not. Your friends are going to be talking about things. Or you’re just gonna pick things up along the way.
And I was definitely one of those little girls that would take the family iPad and make little vlogs by myself. And I still do. You can ask my friends. Like I’m the friend that takes videos of everyone or we’ll vlog the day and be like, “Hey guys, we’re going to the beach today. This is my friend, whatever.” So it wasn’t totally unfamiliar. Like doing makeup tutorials with Janice by my side felt very similar to like when I would set up my iPad with my cousins, when I was younger and do their makeup and it’d look atrocious. But like, you know, it was just for the fun of it. So yeah, no advice from Lilly actually.
LILLY: And to be fair, because I was going to say, she doesn’t need it. I think Saara shines in this episode and I love the scene of her doing Janice’s makeup. And she absolutely did not need my advice because she crushed it. And probably did way better than I could have ever guided her to do.
BILL: Well, you know, too, can I just say, Saara’s very different from this character. Saara’s a very grounded, real person. She’s sweet and–
JEFF: She’s taller too.
BILL: A little taller. But the adjustment that she made to play this character, it’s not an easy thing to do because she’s still real and she’s playing a very real person but there’s an air about Hannah that you feel when she’s in a room where she’s talking or she’s– It’s what a good actor does, you know? And it’s amazing in this episode. It’s really great.
SAARA: Okay, we can stop now.
[Joe and Lilly laugh]
BILL: It’s true. But it’s true. It’s true. People sometimes think when someone’s playing a character, they kind of put them together. And they think that’s the person. Oh, that’s how they must be. When you’re good at what you do [laughs] that’s when people connect you like that. And I just think it’s important to know that Lilly and Saara both just amazing. I mean it’s just great performances going on.
JEFF: Tahj less so, I think.
BILL: Who? Who?
BILL: Well, Tahj we replaced.
JEFF: Yeah, a lot of that.
BILL: A lot of his face.
JEFF: He was okay.
SAARA: This bit is getting so old guys.
BILL: Yeah, the CG is great of Tahj. It really is. It helped a lot with the expression and emoting, you know. So, thank god for CG.
JOE: So back in the studio. We’re starting to get a medley of “Rockin’ Robin,” versions of “Rockin’ Robin” with different celebrities. The first is Kesha. Lips was the one who told her to drop the dollar sign out of her name.
JEFF: That’s true though. That part was true.
JOE: But it’s also great that she’s just willing to kind of poke fun at the fact that she had a dollar sign in her name for most of her career. And she does a deep dive into the lyrics and discovers that the Rockin’ Robin story is really tragic. You know? Like he rocks in the treetops all day long. Is that his choice or is that society’s? That’s a good question.
LILLY: I love it. So good.
SAARA: It was really funny.
JOE: Now Lilly, you’re on the other side of the glass for these scenes. Are you actually there because you don’t share–?
LILLY: No. No. My one beef with this series is that I did not get to actually be there for, because of the way the schedule worked out, for Kesha, for Desiigner and who was the last one again?
JOE: Well, there’s Ziggy Marley and deadmau5.
LILLY: Marley, yes! Oh, how could I forget? Ziggy Marley I was most upset about. I’m a huge Bob Marley fan. In fact, the tattoo, which is covered right now because I’m in production, is real. My “one love” tattoo is real.
JEFF: How about that?
LILLY: I remember begging production being like, “I wanna be there.” But it didn’t work out. But, as fate would have it, subtle flex, I was at a party and I ran into Kesha and I had a conversation starter because I was like, “Hey, I know you shot with the Muppets.” And she was just overjoyed at the experience. And that is the magic of the show. When you meet people who are superstars that have the exact same reaction to the Muppets. And so me being able to hear her be like, “It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done.” And I was like, “Wow. Like you get it. Cause this is what I get to do every day.” So it was cool.
JOE: That’s so cool. I love hearing that. Yeah, as you mentioned Ziggy Marley is the next one. He is a rare celebrity who has the Henson hat trick. He worked with the Muppets. He worked with Sesame Street. And he worked with the Fraggles on Fraggle Rock. There’s not many people who can say that. And, of course, he sang the song “Love Power” during the credits for Muppet Treasure Island.
Let’s all sing it together right now… No?
BILL: [singing] Love power. [in regular voice] I do. [laughs]
JOE: Well done, Bill. You were in the movie though. So… And he can’t do the song. His heart is broken because Janice, you know, she’s a heartbreaker.
JEFF: Broke is heart.
SAARA: Breaks hearts.
JOE: Yeah. The next one is my favorite. It’s deadmou5. He does an electronic version of “Rockin’ Robin” and he’s wearing his big mouse head. All the Mayhem members have their own mouse heads. Which is such a great visual. They’re all bumping around, falling down.
JEFF: I was amazed that we were allowed to use him. I thought for sure there was some lawsuit that had happened in the past where Disney did not like him using the mouse head.
JEFF: But it was all good.
LILLY: I think those are some of the coolest costumes of the series too. Those deadmou5 heads on the Muppets.
BILL: Yeah. Those Muppet heads are beautiful.
SAARA: I remember pausing it and just like appreciating every single one. And realizing that each of them looked exactly like their character. But I don’t know. I just thought it was the coolest thing. I was like, “Maybe this is the Halloween costume.”
JOE: Yeah, and so much work put into those for like five seconds of content. Which again, attention to detail. I love it.
LILLY: These are used in the show ultimately for five seconds that spent 18 hours making it. Five months writing it,
JEFF: Not like you have a grudge. A little bit.
SAARA: I know. I was gonna say, is this Lilly complimenting? Or is this her venting?
LILLY: No. I love it. I’m telling you, I actually, especially coming from late night, where it was very like, just get it done. It doesn’t matter.
LILLY: I so appreciated walking into a space where I was like, “No, it needs to be perfect because we have a vision.” I love it.
JEFF: One little thing because I come from an editing background, and I do trailers mostly, and it’s all that kind of style stuff. And we had a bunch of terrific editors who come from the sitcom world, but whenever there was an opportunity to throw in some style or do stuff to music, that’s when I leaned forward. And I’m like, “Can we just try this. To do–” And so the edit to deadmou5, that sort of, the flutter cut–
BILL: That’s great. Yeah.
JEFF: That was my thing where I was like, “Can we just try this?”
LILLY: I love that.
BILL: Just great. Great transition.
JEFF: And it catches you off guard, too, which I like. Watching it, when we were binging when it came out on May 10th. I’m like, “What’s happen–? Oh, right, that was my suggestion.”
JOE: The last celebrity here is Desiigner. He’s doing a mumble core, rap version of “Rockin’ Robin” with Lips.
JEFF: This is another one that Adam from the beginning, “We have to do this. This is my hill to die on.”
BILL: Mumble rap. Yeah.
JEFF: It has to be right. And so I think we went through many iterations of this to make this happen. I think it’s just such a funny idea. When you have these three characters who barely talk or just or do mumble or utter single words at a time. And it looks terrific, too.
JOE: And my favorite detail about this is Animals and Zoot are singing back up. And Zoot is saying, “Rap song.” [laughs]
BILL: Which changed actually. It was a different thing but that came later. Which was a great add.
JOE: What was it before?
JEFF: Yeah, it was just, I think. Yeah.
JOE: Oh, it was just sounds.
BILL: Oop, woooop, woop. Yep. A mumble.
JOE: Rap song’s funnier.”
BILL: It was a mumble. Yeah.
JEFF: [imitating Zoot] Rap song.
JOE: Yeah. The band is listening to the new tracks. They’re digging this Desiigner mix. And Moog notices that the band is not into it and, of course, they seem enthusiastic. Nora asks, “What do you guys think?” They all cheer a little bit and Floyd has this, “We did it!” moment. Which is such a meme worthy thing. I’m surprised that we don’t have, we don’t see that gif all over the Internet. We did it!
BILL: It’s all the crew and everyone said from them on. Whenever we would finish a scene or a moment and it was, “We did it!” We’d move on. [laughs]
JOE: We did it! Yeah.
LILLY: Yeah. I think there’s two buttons. We did it. And then the other thing the crew always said, like for example when they’re like, “Hey guys we’re probably gonna wrap at nine.” I’d be like, “Lies.”
BILL: Lies. Lies.
JOE: Yeah, this is a great joke. Also when Moog points out that the band is always happy and he brings up the fork and they have the same reaction: “We did it!” It’s such a better version of the joke that was on all the trailers for the 2015 Muppet sitcom where Scooter’s saying like, “The band is always happy. Legally now.”
BILL: Oh right.
JOE: And, you know, obviously that’s a thinly veiled drug reference and this is just so much more like no, they’re just happy. And we can find a lot of humor in the fact that they’re just enthusiastic about everything. So I think that’s a good update. I don’t know if that was intentional or not, but that’s at least how I took it.
BILL: No. We had no reference to the old one. Yeah.
JOE: Great. Janice is doing yoga with Hannah in this next scene.
BILL: Love this. It’s so good.
JOE: She’s still trying to mediate between the sisters. And Janice tries a healing sound bath. She hits a gong, a therapeutic trust fall. She falls backwards. A light lobotomy, she has a power drill. And then a Karamo karma cleanse. And hey, it’s Karamo from Queer Eye. And I’m such a fan of the new Queer Eye. I did a little like, “Oh!” the first time I saw this. Was he as nice in real life as he seems on television?
SAARA: Yes. I have so many stories from this scene.
SAARA: One being the fact that this is one of the audition scenes.
SAARA: It changed. It changed a lot. I don’t know if I’m even allowed to say it.
JEFF: Oh right, right. It was written– right, right. Um, yeah maybe not. It was written for a different actor.
SAARA: Yeah. It was very different. But very much the same in many ways. It was still yoga. It was still me and Janice. But, important to know, when I was filming this as an audition, you guys had changed the name Janice.
SAARA: So I didn’t even put two and two together. It was like Jane or something. I don’t even remember. Or like Jessica. I don’t know. Just some other [laugh] Female-coded name change.
BILL: Yeah. It’s because we didn’t want it to go out to all of the different places. People know it’s a Muppets thing.
SAARA: Yeah, exactly. So I just had no idea. I just didn’t put two and two together. So I just treated this– I didn’t even think in my head that, “Oh, this is a scene where this character is talking to a Muppet.” Like, in my head, I was just talking to a human being and I think that served me because—
BILL: For sure.
SAARA: Because that’s what I ended up doing. But yeah, Karamo is amazing. Such a beautiful person. Another story from this scene: Karamo helped me decide whether or not I was going to go to college that year.
SAARA: So, yeah, I had just come back from visitas, which is my school’s incoming freshman visit weekend.
SAARA: And I had just come back and I was like, “Okay, I know I’m going to this school, but I don’t know if I’m going to take a gap year or not.” And for some reason, the decision was really stressing me out. It was just like, it felt like this life-altering decision of whether or not I should take a gap year or not. And I remember, Bill, we were talking about it because your son was on a gap year.
BILL: Yeah, Jackson had taken a gap year.
SAARA: Jackson was on a gap year. And we were talking about school, and whatever. And then yeah, I had mentioned it to Karamo. I was like, “Yeah, like this is what’s going on man. Like that’s the life update. I can’t tell you much else. I’m shooting the show and I’m deciding about school.” And he just gave me this really beautiful advice about, you know, he was like, “I understand having immigrant parents and the pressure and whatever. But like, really follow your heart. Do what makes sense. Listen to the signs around you and the universe.” And all these different things. It was a whole moment.
SAARA: And the fact you’re doing yoga and like, I don’t know. It was a whole thing.
BILL: You had your own Karamo episode of his new show, right?
SAARA: I did. I did. I had my own moment.
BILL: [laughs] Yeah.
SAARA: But anyway, yeah. A lot came out of that scene. I decided to go to school right after.
BILL: Wow, that’s amazing.
JEFF: I love your frustration at the end of the scene.
SAARA: Yeah. That was fun.
JEFF: Yelling at Karamo. Very, very funny.
JEFF: [imitating Hannah] Karamo!
BILL: What do you say? Yeah, “Don’t you put your duh duh duh at me, Karamo!”
SAARA: Uh, don’t use your…beautiful…
JEFF: Beautiful brown eyes. Is that it?
JOE: Healing magic.
SAARA, BILL and JEFF together: Healing magic.
JEFF: That’s what it is.
SAARA: Healing magic on me, Karamo.
[Saara and Bill laugh]
JOE: It’s so good. But then he shifts his healing magic to Janice. And I love Janice’s, also this line reading, of her just telling him to zip it and stay in his lane. And she’s like, “Okay, love you, bye.” [laughs]
BILL: And I love his reaction. That was like a real kind of drop, open, eyes wide. We had a couple versions, but I kept wanting to push for that because I just thought it was so [laughs]. There’s just nothing. He didn’t say anything. He just went wide like, “What? I can’t believe that just happened.”
JOE: Incredible. So Nora goes back to the shack and confronts Moog because in the previous scene, she played the new song for Penny and it was not the one they had agreed on. It’s a new mix of “Rockin’ Robin.” And so they have this big argument about who knows what’s best for the band and it’s great because Zoot is there to kind of cut the tension between them, commenting on it as if it’s a dramatic TV show. And he mentions in the script, I have to assume it was a scripted thing, “This is a narrative of very heavy duty proportions.” Which we all recognize as a line from The Muppet Movie.
JEFF: I believe that’s an outtake from the Kesha scene. Right? Doesn’t he?
BILL: Well, no it was added. The line wasn’t there for this scene.
JEFF: It wasn’t there. I know we grabbed it from somewhere.
BILL: And then I think Adam thought it would be funny because we were trying to connect Zoot a little more to their conversation.
BILL: And we used a shot of Zoot saying something else.
JEFF: Yeah, yeah. That.
BILL: But then put these words in it, right?
JOE: Yeah. That’s a great mention. A great Easter egg.
JOE: If you haven’t seen The Muppet Movie, you should go watch it. It’s a good movie.
BILL: I like Zoot’s line. Jeff, what’s Zoot’s line when he says, “Oooh, drama.” What is it? Lots of drama?
LILLY: Lots of drama.
BILL: Oh yeah, “I like this show. Lots of drama.”
JEFF: [imitating Zoot] Lots of drama.
JOE: It turns out that Moog’s demo that he’s been trying to get Nora to listen to for the past four episodes, is made up of remixes of all the Mayhem’s concerts. So he does know his stuff and he works hard on making this sound good. Nora sees a stack of VHS tapes. And on those tapes we see Muppets at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Muppets at Walt Disney World. Which, by the way, is not on Disney Plus yet.
BILL: Can we just say they butt heads beautifully here, these two. Because this is the first time they actually have a confrontation like this and it’s pretty heavy, you know? I just love the way that that scene plays right there because it could have been very mean. But it’s just frustration and trying to push back. You know, it’s just a great little.
LILLY: I agree. It’s a perfect balance where you still are rooting for both of the characters and you don’t leave the scene disliking, at least in my opinion, you don’t leave the scene disliking. You’re just like, oh, these are two people that have their baggage and are like meeting each other in this argument. And so it leaves you really wanting them to reconnect, as opposed to something like, “Oh, screw this one person. I want this one person to win.” So I agree. I really like the way that landed.
BILL: Yeah, it was great.
JOE: Well, it helps that they’re both arguing because they want what’s best for the band and for this album.
BILL: What they think.
JOE: They’re not arguing because–
BILL: What they think is best for the band.
JOE: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, they’re not arguing because they hate each other. They’re not even arguing because they love each other. That will come later.
Nora puts a tape in the VCR and, of course, the clock reads 4:20, which is a reference to Pulp Fiction.
JEFF: I think we shot at that time. I think that’s actually just…
JOE: Just so happened to be 4:20.
JEFF: Yeah, I think that one was.
BILL: Yeah I think It just happened.
LILLY: I do remember that was a late night. I do.
LILLY: Two in the morning or something. Yeah.
JOE: We hear the Mayhem singing a song in the background during the next few scenes. They’re singing “God Only Knows.” The Beach Boys’ song. Which is great and also an interesting choice that I very much appreciate that you didn’t try to do a music video for every song. We can just have the Mayhem singing a song and it’s in the background. And we can appreciate it for what it is, which is just a great cover of a great song.
BILL: Yeah, and it comes out of the demo. It’s what’s on the demo that she plays, right? So that’s what carries us through.
JOE: Right. Exactly. So Floyd comes in. Tells Nora he’s so lucky to have been able to make music with all his friends for all these years. Which is inspiring her to want to reconnect with her sister. Meanwhile, Janice is going back to Hannah’s house. And she has a photo to show her. Hannah assumes it’ll be a picture of her and Nora and it’ll convince her that they should reconcile. Would have been a very easy story beat. But it’s not.
This is maybe the biggest gasp I got in this entire series. It’s a picture of Janice and her twin sister. She has an identical twin. I can’t believe it.
SAARA: Yeah. I can’t believe it either. It was amazing.
LILLY: Can’t wait for that story to unfold.
JEFF: We’ll see. Yeah, we came up with that in the writer’s room. I think when we were just doing sort of background for these characters. We just thought that would be a really cool thing. I guess we won’t go into the details of what we’ve kind of figured out, but yeah. We have a cool story and cool ideas for what it could be.
JOE: Oh good.
JEFF: And we weren’t sure as we were coming up with it, if it was gonna come up again in the first season or not. And I think we liked what we settled on, where it doesn’t. But it just lends itself so nicely to this moment and to what Nora and Hannah are going through. And it’s so sweet. It’s so sweet.
BILL: Yeah, super sweet.
JOE: I assume that later on when they’re in the desert and they’ve eaten the bad mushrooms and Janice is in a room full of Janices, that’s a bit of a reference to, you know, maybe one of those is not Janice. Maybe one of those is– That was at least how I read that scene.
JEFF: Not intentionally.
BILL:Yeah, we didn’t think of it necessarily that way. But yeah.
JOE: Janice also insinuates that she doesn’t know where her sister is. Which is also leading to a lot of potential story. So I’m really excited to see what you guys have in mind.
SAARA: Yeah. No. That was a really, really beautiful scene. I think I want to pat David on the back for that one. I think that was one of the first… that might have been one of the first scenes where I was alone. There had been other really grounded scenes with Muppets. For example, Actually, I don’t know with just me. But alone with a Muppet, I think that was one of the very first really grounded scenes I had where there was room to get more emotional.
And that was when I really saw how much humanity the Muppets have despite not necessarily being human. And their universality, and their ability to speak so much to the human experience. And Janice just has so much heart in this scene so it was so easy to just play off of David’s performance because it was so stunning and so beautiful. And my family now makes fun of me for this scene. I hope you know.
JEFF: Aw, in what way?
SAARA: Because they’re annoying. They can’t just let it be a good scene.
SAARA: One of my cousins came over to my house like two days ago. And she was like, “Oh, did you think of your sister when you were shooting this scene?”
SAARA: Like, obviously it’s my real sister. So they’ve seen us argue and they’ve seen us bicker. But my sister and I are also very close. So, I was like, “Yeah, I did kind of think of my sister. Sorry. I love her.” And they were like, “No you don’t.” Anyway, it’s a whole bit now in my house. Anytime this episode is playing or somebody’s rewatching the show they’re like, “As if, Saara.” And that’s like wow.
JOE: Your answer to them should always just be, “It’s acting. I’m an actor. I don’t have to think of real things. I just act.”
SAARA: Yeah. No. That’s like handing them material on a silver platter.
BILL: Oh. You’re an actor are you? Oh.
JOE: Oh, you’re an actor. [laughs]
SAARA: My family is very good at like keeping me…not even grounded, like six feet under like on the floor.
BILL: Embedded. Yes.
JOE: Amazing. So Janice convinces her that the distance between sisters may feel really good right now, but it won’t feel good if they drift too far apart. So, Nora brings Moog’s demo back to him. Admits he was right. He really does have the perfect sound for bridging the old and the new for the Mayhem, and she asks him to produce the album. Which is very sweet.
LILLY: Such a sweet scene.
JOE: It really is.
LILLY: And I just love the way it sets up this relationship moving forward because you see Nora…She has so much guard up and I think there’s only a few times in the series but they’re really special ones where she’ll actually let that down and be like, “You’re right. I’m letting someone in.” And I think this is like the first real time you see her do that with someone one-on-one, which is really special.
BILL: Yeah. She has the moment where she kind of comes clean about the lies in the previous thing. But this is the first time with a person that she’s admitting she’s not really right and knows what she’s doing, which is great.
JEFF: Trusting of someone else.
LILLY: I also gotta give a huge shout out to a crew member by the name of Banner [Agundez], who is the only reason the door of that trailer stayed open during that scene because the hardest part of that scene was– The hardest part of the show was opening that trailer door. It’s rocketized. It’s legit rocketitzed. But opening that and swinging it shout out to Banner for your service.
BILL: Wow. I was just gonna say, and Moog’s reaction when you leave, is so great. That moment alone where he’s just like, he can’t believe it’s gonna happen, you know?
JEFF: And then the next shot is Nora turning to camera to start.
JEFF: It’s just great. You’re confident, you’re excited. Let’s do this.
JOE: Absolutely. You’re making all the right choices. Yeah. Janice brings Hannah back to the shack and Hannah admits that she really does need her big sister. And here’s what I love about the scene. It’s a great– It’s a great scene. I love that Hannah comes in, heart open and Nora is like “What’s wrong? What do you need?” And like, oh my god, like you’re kind of gobsmacked by your sister hugging you. But then Janice is looking on and again we’re talking about David’s performance as Janice in his episode. But there’s something. It’s such a simple little thing, just like a little head is cocked a little bit to the left and her hands are at heart center. And it’s a really heartwarming moment.
LILLY: Totally. And, you know, just to go off what Saara was saying earlier. So I tap into a lot of my real life for Nora but not in my experience. So my real sister is six years older than me and did raise me a lot. So she is actually Nora and then in real life was the influencer. I was Hannah and so I really am tapping into things my sister has said to me. How my sister and I have argued about things. And so it’s been a really interesting experience because I feel like shooting this scene, I think I went home and I was like, “Oh man, maybe I was an annoying little sister to my real sister.”
LILLY: The universe is like we’re gonna give you this role so you see how annoying you’ve been. But it was just really special because I did get to tap into something real there.
JEFF: I remember you brought that up when we were in a meeting with you and I think we all sort of, even though we were on Zoom, we’re like wait a second here. There’s so many parallels here.
JEFF: She is Nora. I mean, she’s not Nora. She’s saying that she’s Hannah but she’s Nora.
LILLY: I mean I’m so familiar with that experience and I think my little sis Saara killed it in this scene. She’s just done a stunning performance.
BILL: Oh, so good.
LILLY: That hug is like… Even, I mean I was there but I still watch it and I’m like, [pretend crying] “Oh my god.”
BILL: Yeah gets me every time and then she turns and says, “Thank you.” That little whisper.
BILL: So good.
JEFF: I’ve said before, I love watching your relationship between the two of you just grow and develop over the course of this season.
LILLY: I would also say it’s one of the relationships I had the most amount of tweaks, you know, a lot of how we met Nora and how we met Hannah and how we learned about the relationship, those scenes were shot and tweaked. And so I feel like it’s been refined and fine-tuned to this place, that’s really special and cool. So, shout out.
BILL: Jeff, brought up a point. The scene where we shot later.
JEFF: From episode one.
BILL: Right. From episode one where you’re in the record store.
BILL: The fact that you guys had got to know each other over time before we shot that really fed that and you really feel like you guys, you’re sisters there.
JEFF: Having to reshoot that was one of the greatest blessings that we got. Sometimes you’re just like, “Oh, we screwed up.” And we did and that was our writing but then just the blessing of it was that by that point in shooting you were sisters. You were close. You knew each other. You liked each other, you know? And it just shows in that scene.
BILL: It was great. Because before they didn’t like each other at all.
JEFF: No, you did not like each other at all.
BILL: They did not like each other, in the beginning.
SAARA: Like is a strong word.
SAARA: Yeah, that was a really beautiful scene. Lilly, do remember? Our marks for that hug…Like the hug looks really beautiful on camera but our marks were weird. Remember, we had to hug like it was just odd and so it was kind of uncomfortable because we had to like make sure…I think it was like I kept getting blocked.
SAARA: You were blocking the light.
LILLY: So for you to turn to Janice like it looks good on camera but in person you were like cranking.
SAARA: I was like cranking my neck. I was like, [straining]“Thanks, Janice.” [in normal voice] It was, yeah, it was a lot.
LILLY: Shooting anything in Janice’s room was a challenge because of the space. But also I’m gonna say walking on pillows is like walking on sand. It’s very hard to catch your balance and find your mark and all that type of stuff. So, I always thought it was a little challenging to shoot in Janice’s room.
BILL: Your pillow nest.
LILLY: Yeah, the pillow nest.
SAARA: Bill, I remember this scene was also really special because at this point, by the time, we were filming this scene, we had become better friends. You and my dad had become pretty close.
SAARA: [laughs] Yeah. And you came specifically. I remember you were maybe writing or something.
BILL: I think we were shooting on the other stage. At the same time.
SAARA: Oh look at that.
BILL: Going back and forth.
SAARA: I don’t even know these things. But then you came back just for this scene. I remember you telling… Was it Matt [Sohn] the director on this one?
BILL: Yeah, I think so.
SAARA: I think so. Yeah. You going to Matt, like, “Don’t wear her out.” I remember saying, “I’m fine. I’m fine. Like I’m good.”
BILL: [laughs] Because I was watching you. Every take there was just great stuff in every one. And I just thought, to be honest, the note was not only just to look after you, but Matt… Matt is a great director and he just really wants to pull all that stuff, you know? I felt like we got it. And I felt like several times it was great stuff. But he was like, “No, no, just one little…”
SAARA: No, you were so sweet. I will always remember that.
JEFF: You guys hadn’t seen any of the show until the night of the premiere, right?
JEFF: And now I assume you’ve seen the show. You’ve watched the show?
LILLY: Multiple times.
JEFF: Do you have favorite episodes? I’m sure it was all just a shock to see it all.
LILLY: I’m telling you this is one of my favorite episodes.
SAARA: This, episode 7. But honestly this is one of my favorite episodes. It’s just because of the sister storyline.
JEFF: It’s so sweet. So sweet.
JEFF: Yeah, this was the one that I felt when we were watching, I was like, “This is our show.” We got here and this feels like our show. The pacing, the humor, the balance. So nice and then the human emotion of it. So great.
JOE: Well just to wrap up the episode, our final scene Nora has ditched the idea of collaborations with other artists and tells the band they can just record new stuff on their own. So the band is gonna go record a new song and they got nothing. There is no new stuff. Uh oh, cliffhanger. Disney Plus is gonna love this.
LILLY: I love the one, two, three and a half. And I love the execution of Bill’s four. I laugh out loud every time. “Four?”
LILLY: So good.
JOE: I also have to assume this is kind of what it was like for the people who were writing the music. Jeff, maybe you felt this way of just like, “Yeah, so we’ll just write new Mayhem songs. And…and go.” And something will come out, right? I mean that’s the first stage of songwriting, I think.
JEFF: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. There should be a whole podcast about doing the music for our show. It’s tough. It’s a tall order. You want to do the Mayhem proud. You want to serve our story correctly. You want to make a rocking album and it’s a lot.
JEFF: It is a lot. I mean to go back just very quickly even to have “God Only Knows” works. It’s a huge turning point in our episode story wise. Nora has to listen to something in that moment that convinces her that Moog is the right person to do this. And we wrote that it was going to be “God Only Knows” and we just put this on Linda Perry. “All right. Produce the version of the song that’s going to convince her and also audiences need to hear it.” And what is that? What is that thing? You don’t want to change the Mayhem but it’s got to be something that feels new. That feels different. That doesn’t sound exactly like “God Only Knows” and its famous open.
It was such a tall order all around. And this was certainly one of the biggest challenges. Think we pulled it off.
JOE: I think you did.
JEFF: Yeah. I mean for every song.
JOE: I think you did. If my opinion counts for anything, I think he pulled it off real well.
LILLY: I love speaking to people like you because you’ve taught me things about the series. Like hearing you talk, I’m like, “Oh. Those are things I didn’t catch at all.” So thank you.
JOE: Of course. I mean, look, this is what it is to be a Mayhead, basically. We are gonna have a different viewpoint of this stuff because we’re looking for those Easter eggs. We’re comparing it to the old stuff which we have encyclopedically filed away. But yeah we have all this stuff filed away in our brains. So of course, if Dr. Teeth is gonna say something, I’m thinking about when Dr. Teeth said something similar in 1979 when Bill was not a part of the troop. So, you know, I’m putting those ridiculous things together that nobody cares about but me and the people listening to this podcast.
BILL: I’m so sorry you go through that. So sorry.
JOE: It’s a nightmare. [laughs] So Saara and Lilly, as we’re wrapping up, do you have any other memories from the show or stories that you want to share or just general reactions to the series as a whole, beyond this episode?
LILLY: Wow, I mean, there’s so much.
JOE: There’s so much. I know that was a tall question.
SAARA: That’s a big question.
JOE: Yeah, quick. You got a minute and a half. [laughs]
SAARA: I’ll just say, I think it’s an honor and a privilege to be surrounded by such incredible performers and cast mates and crew members and writers and producers and everybody. I think this show, after coming home from press tour and releasing the show and it just kind of like being out in the world now and it being a real thing. because for some reason, to me, until my projects are officially out into the world, they don’t exist yet. And I try to block it out of my memory, I’m like, “No, this hasn’t happened yet. But now that it’s out and people are having reactions to it, I’ve had the time to sit back and kind of reflect on the whole journey.
And kind of process it all now a year later. And I think when you’re in it and you’re doing a dream project like this, you sometimes don’t realize what you’re doing in the moment and you kind of try to pinch yourself then but you don’t. It doesn’t really click until much later. And I think over the past little while it’s all really started processing for me and I’ve been able to sit back and realize just how freaking magnificent these people are. And I don’t know. I think I’ll be thanking my lucky stars every single day for crossing paths with all these wonderful human beings and Muppets.
LILLY: Just to add on to that, I’ll say, I do remember a day when me, Saara and Tahj, I don’t think Anders was on set this day, where our names were announced as part of being the cast and we were having a breakdown. We were like, “Oh my goodness. We are the annoying humans that are going to be part of the Muppets and people just want to see the Muppets.” And we were a little stressed about… You know, we’re very aware that the Muppets are so beloved and people want to see the Muppets. And we wanted to do justice and make sure people knew that we were there to make them shine and be their complement, not to take anything away from them.
So, we really stressed before it came out, honestly, about just how people would react. But I think, kudos to the writers and the creators and the producers, because I think that balance is so perfect. And I hope people, when they watch the show, die-hard Muppet fans, can feel that. That we’re not– I’m just gonna be real. We’re not there to take the spotlight. It is about the beloved Muppets and we’re there to just bring ourselves to their world.
But I do remember us having, I remember because I had two scoops of ice cream that day.
LILLY: But it’s been such a joy and such an honor and that’s been great. And, I guess, to all the Mayheads, thanks for letting us be part of your world because it’s been super cool.
JOE: Well, and thank you for bringing so much joy and humanity to this project and your talents. You did a wonderful job. The series is great and thank you for being here on this podcast. What a joy it’s been to chat with you both for the past hour.
SAARA: Thank you.
JOE: And thank you Bill and Jeff. We’ll hopefully see you again next week, back here on this podcast. Thanks everyone for listening and we’ll see you again soon on The Muppets Mayhem: Backstage Pass.
[outro music plays]
JOE: The Muppets Mayhem: Backstage Pass is brought to you by Toughpigs.com. Produced, written and hosted by Joe Hennes. Logo art by Dave Hulteen Jr. The Muppets Mayhem mark and logo, characters and elements are trademarks of The Muppets Studio. All rights reserved. Transcriptions provided by Katilyn Miller. The Muppets Mayhem end credits, written by Mick Giacchino, is used with permission. Special thanks to The Muppets Studio, Disney Plus and the entire Muppets Mayhem family.
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Thanks for listening and until next time, rock on!