Transcription provided by Katilyn Miller.
The Muppets Mayhem: Backstage Pass – Track 8: Virtual Insanity
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 Eight: Virtual Insanity in which the Mayhem makes a whole bunch of enemies thanks to the toxic hellscape of Twitter. This week, we have three extremely special guests. First up, he’s the co-creator and executive producer of The Muppets Mayhem. Please welcome Jeff Yorkes back to the podcast. Hello, Jeff.
JEFF YORKES: Hello. Thank you for having me back yet again. I’m very happy to be here.
JOE: Yet again.
JOE: We can’t get rid of you. Next, he’s another co-creator and executive producer as well as Dr. Teeth’s left hand man. Please welcome Bill Barretta back to the podcast. Hey, Bill.
BILL BARRETTA: I’m sorry, Joe.
JOE: Are you already sorry?
JOE: Oh, all right. Well, that’s a great way to kick off another fun podcast.
BILL: Sorry. I’m sorry, everybody.
JOE: Preemptive apologies.
BILL: I just feel bad about the next guest on our show.
JOE: Oh well, let’s introduce him. We’ll see how everyone else feels.
JOE: Our final guest, unfortunately.
BILL: This isn’t good.
JOE: A Muppet performer who brings characters like Big Bird and Kermit the Frog to life. On The Muppets Mayhem he slings bass as Sergeant Floyd Pepper. Please welcome Matt Vogel to the podcast. Hey, Matt.
MATT VOGEL: Hey, Joe. How you doing?
JOE: I’m doing great. Great to see you.
MATT: You know, before we begin and Bill, I heard your apology you had before I came on, but I actually have an issue here. You said in the beginning there, that is the unofficial podcast for this.
MATT: So I thought it was the official podcast.
JOE: It is the official unofficial podcast. This is how I tell everyone, subtly that I’m not being paid by Disney to be here.
JOE: I do this of my own volition.
BILL: Also, he doesn’t say unofficial on the other episodes.
MATT: Oh it’s just this one?
JEFF: This is the only one.
BILL: Just in case this doesn’t…well probably, won’t go well.
MATT: It probably wouldn’t. It probably won’t make it out.
JEFF: Isn’t it afficial? A-F-F-I-C-I-A-L
MATT: [laughs] I’ll stay then. I’ll stay. I mean, I don’t have anything else to do so it’s fine.
JOE: I so appreciate you suffering through this already disaster of a podcast.
BILL: Sorry, everyone.
MATT: It is.
JOE: [laughs] Matt, please tell me.
JOE: Hello again. How does it feel getting the chance to focus on just one of your many Muppet characters for Muppets Mayhem?
MATT: It’s actually really exciting. It was really exciting to get to focus on just one character’s arc for an episode and then over the course of the season. I’m sure you’ve talked about this with other folks, because, you know, I’m here at episode eight. We’re almost at the end. So that feels like probably you’ve asked other people this and they probably have said, I’m guessing. I mean, I can’t imagine that somebody’d be saying, “Well, I wish that I was doing more characters in the show.” Did anybody say that?
MATT: No. I think it’s really interesting because training as an actor to be able to actually then play that single character and see how he may grow or transform in some way over the course of a season.
JOE: I mean, that’s rare for any Muppet character.
MATT: It is.
JOE: I mean just for Kermit and Piggy and Fozzie and all them. They don’t get the chance to do a whole season just about themselves.
BILL: Other than like, if it’s a movie, right? You have a chance to have an arc with your character. And this is kind of what we always thought of as a big long movie. So it’s fun.
JEFF: It’s a good word to use that they grow. We’re not fundamentally changing these characters, but we are deepening them and helping them grow. Dimensionalizing them.
JOE: That’s a challenge for anything like this where you have to have the characters grow but also kind of get back to the status quo in the end.
JOE: Because we want people to be able to turn on The Muppet Movie and still recognize these characters as the same people from Muppets Mayhem.
MATT: Right. I mean, it really is just informing the audience more about who these characters are. I can think of moments in the flashback episode between Floyd and Teeth, which is one of my favorite episodes.
BILL: Me too. Because I’m really good in that one.
MATT: You are. No. I really do feel like…
MATT: I really do feel like that was, for me as a fan of these characters, to get to see the relationship and how it began was really special but more special for me personally, and in a selfish way, was getting to play those scenes with you, Billy.
BILL: Well, same with me.
MATT: Really loved it.
BILL: I’ve been waiting to do something like that with you because we tend to not do a lot of scenes.
MATT: No. Yeah.
BILL: Our characters aren’t dynamically, they don’t kind of always interact on a regular basis.
BILL: And so I was looking forward to that too. And also in my little fantasy world, I was always imagining Jim and Jerry doing this.
BILL: And I know I never got to meet Jim but I know how close we were with Jerry and just know that maybe he would have liked what we did with it.
MATT: I think so.
BILL: And how amazing you’re doing with this character and what you do with Floyd is so great. So I loved it. I just loved doing this episode. I mean that episode. Sorry.
MATT: I did too. I did too. I really did. I was just watching it the other day.
BILL: Not this one. That one.
MATT: [laughs] No, no. This one, I can’t stand, but I’m glad we’re talking about that one.
MATT: Sorry, Joe.
JOE: Hey, it’s all right. This is what the show’s all about, apparently, as we’ve learned. Speaking of Jerry Nelson, does it feel like you’ve got him kind of whispering in your ear as you’re performing Floyd? Do you still feel that?
MATT: I do. At the very least, I feel like I’m…Jerry was the coolest hat in the room, always.
BILL: That’s it.
MATT: Always. He would walk in and everybody would turn to him. He was just the coolest guy. And I don’t know if I hear him whispering in my ear but I feel like I want to emulate who that version of Jerry/Floyd is for me. And while these characters are kind of blown up, ridiculous versions of who human beings might be, I feel like this character, Floyd very much is Jerry and is how he would react in a kind of given situation, if given the chance with this puppet.
JOE: You guys were talking a little bit about that backstory episode, the flashback episode.
JOE: And, you know, Floyd is one of the few characters along with Dr. Teeth and Animal who actually gets a backstory in the season. How does it feel for you, as someone who didn’t originate these characters but working obviously very closely with them, to be adding so much history to them? I mean, does that feel terrifying to you or is it like no, no, just it’s part of the script, we’re going to run with it and it’s done?
MATT: It was never terrifying and mostly because we have a team. Our team of writers and having Jeff and Bill. What’s the other guy’s name? [Adam Goldberg]
MATT: Yes, him. [laughs] Having our creators and just knowing that they love these characters just like we do and they are super talented and are able to bring these situations to us as the actors to get to play is a joy. I never was nervous or scared about what it was going to be. I always knew it would be so much fun to play. I actually really didn’t even think about it in terms of fear.
It just was, this is part of what that character is. We’re going to now show this. And now I guess, in a way, Billy and I get to kind of put our stamp of who we are in that way that we are the Muppet performers through these characters. Which I do love. I love being able to kind of put that stamp on it, I guess.
BILL: Yeah, and also, you know what? Let’s hope we get another season or four seasons.
BILL: We really didn’t explore Floyd’s backstory. It’s more Teeth, right?
BILL: It’s how they intersect it. So there’s more to do with Floyd, which would be so much fun.
JEFF: I forget, Matt, did you read our backstory for Floyd? We don’t have to talk about it now.
MATT: I did like early on. I think there was something about him.
JEFF: I think it was in the original pitch.
JEFF: Some concepts of…
MATT: And him being like an army…
BILL: Army brat.
JOE: Well, we got the hint that he was at West Point and got dishonorably discharged. You were able to tell us that but I feel like there’s more to it. I feel like there’s a lot more that we could be seeing.
BILL: Oh sure.
MATT: Absolutely, I’m sure there is.
JOE: And then we also have baby Animal dropped off at Floyd’s front door. There’s got to be so much more to talk about that. And like Floyd raising Animal. Obviously we want to see more of them. I was a little surprised– I mean, not surprised knowing that there’s plans for future seasons. But surprised that we got that moment of Floyd accepts baby Animal. And that’s it. You’re just gonna put that puzzle together in your mind. Create your own head canon until we can show you.
JEFF: The day you went to Home Depot and got the chain to put around Animal’s neck.
MATT: That’s right. You know, this little guy gets around everywhere. I gotta figure out how to keep him under control. And a dog leash doesn’t work. He just chews through it. Yeah.
JOE: Someone calls child services on you for buying a chain for your child.
MATT: He’s an Animal.
JEFF: He’s an Animal.
MATT: He’s an Animal.
JOE: Fair enough. All right. So, let’s talk about this episode, Episode 8. Our cold open has the band driving through Hollywood. We see, once again, the Doc Hopper’s Frog Legs billboard in the background. I assume this is the exact same shot that we saw in a previous episode, just recycled.
JEFF: I think so. I know that they spent a day driving around, driving the van around and setting up different shots.
MATT: And trying to find that billboard.
JEFF: Exactly. That’s the tough part.
JEFF: We had two. One of them they couldn’t use. I think it was blocked by a Pizza Hut delivery truck. So they’re like, we don’t have the rights for that. But they did spend a day setting up and getting those shots.
JOE: It must have been so cool to just be like, walking down Hollywood Boulevard and then there’s the van. It’s just right there in real life. But I also recognize that there’s a lot of weird cars in Hollywood so maybe it didn’t bat a whole lot of eyes.
JEFF: We had our premiere a couple weeks ago and the bus was there. The van was there. Moog’s trailer was there. But at the end of the night I watched as the bus was leaving the premiere. And I’m like, “Someone’s going to be driving at 11:30 at night and passing the Electric Mayhem bus just on the street.
BILL: It’s so funny you mention that, Jeff, when on that day of the…
BILL: …release. Yeah. A couple of gigs got canceled because of the writers’ strike.
BILL: So I was trying to think of something that we could do to have some fun just to create some buzz out there. And I wanted us to rent a sightseeing van. The ones without the roofs on them.
BILL: And that we would all ride with the characters next to us as if there’s a bunch of people running around Hollywood, so people could just grab photos and post them and stuff. I think that’d be really fun to do someday.
JEFF: And they said no to that because…?
BILL: There wasn’t enough time in between what we had finished and getting to the venue to rehearse to do everything we had to do there.
JEFF: You have to get there.
BILL: Yeah, it didn’t work out. I know, I tried.
MATT: [laughs] That’s true. You do have to get there.
BILL: Frank [Reifsnyder] tried. We talked about it but it just wasn’t possible.
JEFF: Right. Right.
JOE: Ah well.
JEFF: That would’ve been amazing.
MATT: Well, I’ll tell you, this is something like cold open. There is something that I do want to say about that scene because the scene where they’re coming up with different names for the album, right?
BILL: Yes. Yes.
MATT: So the thing that I remember about shooting this scene is that I didn’t shoot this scene.
BILL: [laughs] That’s right.
JOE: Oh no.
MATT: I am not performing Floyd because during the time we were shooting this show, we were going through Covid tests every three days or something like this.
BILL: Every three days. Yeah. Yeah.
MATT: And I went in on, this was maybe on a Monday and I went in on a Monday and they shoved the swab in my nose. And we all went to work and then a little bit later I was in my trailer and somebody came up and said, [whispers] “You have to leave. You have Covid.”
[in normal voice] I was like, “I do? I don’t feel like I have Covid and I feel fine. But okay. Bye.” And so I couldn’t shoot this scene. I had to wait. I don’t even…I think it was 24 hours before I had to take another test.
JEFF: Right. Is it a false positive?
MATT: It was a false positive.
MATT: So I didn’t have Covid. But they’re trying to be very safe.
BILL: Wasn’t it two days? I thought it was two days you had to wait.
MATT: Yeah, I was out two days. So when they gave me the test, it was 24 hours from there
I had to take it. And then wait another 24 hours or something.
JEFF: We couldn’t even stop production.
JEFF: Not even for an hour. Like we have to go.
MATT: No, no. Gotta keep going.
JEFF: And I’m trying to remember, was it Alice [Dinnean]?
BILL: Yes, it was Alice.
JEFF: It’s crazy. We’d be editing and just hear this kind of Floyd. But very much [imitating Floyd] “You don’t bring me white fish.”
MATT: That’s right.
BILL: Wait, is this the episode? Yes, it is, right? This is the…
JEFF: Album titles.
BILL: No. No. Sorry. The fans?
BILL: Because when we were editing this, there were three different Floyds.
BILL: Because Matt either was sick or he was on something else that we were doing. So Peter [Linz] did Floyd once.
BILL: And Alice did him and you did him.
BILL: So it was the three of you.
JOE: Well you can’t tell.
MATT: I’ll tell you when the other scene comes up. I’ll tell you when the other scene comes up.
BILL: Right. Yes, you can tell. Yeah.
JOE: So yes, as we’ve said, the band is brainstorming band names. They go through a huge list. I have to assume there’s 10 times as many than you did on the day.
MATT: It’s album names. Just to make sure.
JOE: Did I say band names?
MATT: Isn’t it? You did but it’s names for the album, I believe.
BILL: Album names.
JOE: Album names. I did mean album names but does the band have a name? Should we come up with one right now?
JEFF: I think we wrote maybe 60.
JEFF: And then we cut it down a little bit. I mean, it could be its own episode. And I think even from what you recorded, what you filmed, we cut down even further just because we have to get into the show already.
BLL: It was actually hard to do on the day.
BILL: The tempo and the timing. Because part of me feels like it would have played great in just one shot as well.
JEFF: In a wide?
BILL: Yeah, just kind of in the wide and a few pop ins, but it was hard to do to keep the tempo going in a comedic way. It’s tricky, tricky.
JOE: I don’t want to read the whole list here, but do you have any favorites that either were said in the episode or things that did not get said, edited out of the episode? Do you recall?
BILL: I don’t remember what we did.
JEFF: “You don’t bring me white fish,” I do like.
JOE: That’s a good one. I can share some of my favorites because I have them here. “Feeling Funky-tronic” is actually a good band name.
JEFF: Album name.
JOE: But then you’ve got like “He who rocked it. Rolled it,” “Mr. Fluff and the Puff police.”
BILL: I like “There’s an album.” I like that one.
JEFF: There’s an album?
BILL: There’s an album?
JOE: “There’s an album.”That’s what Zoot says. “Llamas llamas everywhere.” I like that Lips does throw in a few and, of course, we can’t understand it. But one of them sounds like he’s saying “Sergeant Pepper,” which is very funny. And Floyd says, “I wish I knew my dad.” Which sounds like a joke but it also makes me wonder. Season two? Maybe that’s something that’s gonna come back around?
MATT: I think it was intentionally said ambiguously.
JOE: Uh-huh. I mean, it was very ambiguous because it was just an album title. Potential album title.
MATT: Or was it? Or? Or?
JOE: And then also Animal just shouts out “Music” and “Songs.”
JEFF: That’s what we should have named it, by the way.
MATT: That’s what it should have been.
JOE: Just songs.
BILL: Yeah, I believe, if I’m not mistaken without Googling this, the comedy music duo, Garfunkel and Oates, featuring Riki Lindhome, who’s in this episode, has an album called Music Songs. If I’m not mistaken. I might be mistaken.
JOE: In the studio, the band is rehearsing the song “We Are One.” We will hear more of this song later in the episode. We can talk about it then. But Nora and JJ are ready to promote this new album even though it’s not completely finished yet. And there’s only one way to get the word out. Not oversized billboards. Not windshield leaflets. Not Animal shouting this thing on a megaphone. It’s the internet. And the band gets their very first smartphones. With the exception of Lips, who is the man who knows everybody. And of course has his own phone.
MATT: The keeper of the phone. Yeah.
JOE: He’s the keeper of the phone. Yeah.
JEFF: Which, generally, he just uses to call people. That’s it.
JEFF: He’s not really using it… he’s not following stocks.
BILL: His connections, friends. Yeah,
JOE: Right. Yeah. I think he says something about… seems like he says something about,he doesn’t do the apps. He just does the phone. He does the Mahna Mahna thing.
BILL: I like what Floyd does with his. He shakes it like there’s something supposed to come out of it.
BILL: He’s like raising up and down trying to figure out [laughs]
MATT: Yeah. What is it gonna…? And then he does say something about there’s like the high tech-trackery.
BILL: Oh yeah. High-tech trackery.
JEFF: That was one of the things we loved. And I feel like it’s probably earlier than that, but it’s definitely in the 2015 series, that Floyd is like a conspiracy theorist.
MATT: Yeah. And I don’t know. Bill maybe you know this but Jerry I don’t think he was a conspiracy theories.
MATT: But I think he was fascinated by like UFOs but also he had a healthy distrust of “the man.”
MATT: And authority.
[Bill and Joe laugh]
MATT: And I remember that they did like a big spread for People Magazine. I think it was on Sesame Street. And all the Muppet performers were all there. And they were all made up and they all looked great, and Jerry looked great too but he had like a hat on and dark sunglasses and a t-shirt.
MATT: I just remember him always like he didn’t really want to have anybody really know, maybe what he looked like or, did not trust thing’s getting out there that he wouldn’t like. And that’s kind of what I feel like Floyd does in a little way.
BILL: [laughs] That’s great.
JOE: Are you suggesting that People Magazine is “the man?”
MATT: I think so or maybe has met “the man” or something.
MATT: You know, even more than that. Like corporate or just bigger than him. Things like that.
JOE: Sure. But yes, as you said Floyd does not trust smartphones because of the high-tech trackery. Janice doesn’t want to be cellular zombie. I like that Dr. Teeth doesn’t trust anything that doesn’t have buttons. I thought that was a funny line reading.
BILL: Yeah. Yeah.
JOE: But it also makes sense because he plays the keyboards. It’s like a whole bunch of buttons. It’s like 88 buttons in a row.
BILL: They’re keys. It’s music.
JOE: They call them keys? I’m learning so much on this podcast.
MATT: It’s nice that you guys call him out on it because I was just going to let him have his little button thing.
JOE: No. Yeah.
MATT: Oh, call him out on it. Okay, got it. Got it.
JOE: I’m not allowed to tell jokes on this podcast, apparently.
MATT: I would keep it.
JOE: We have to explain all of my jokes.
MATT: Just the funny ones.
JOE: Just the funny ones? Well, then definitely none of my jokes are going to make it through.
BILL: Hey, you said it.
JOE: [laughs] Dr. Teeth pens the band’s first tweet. It is the word “tweet.”
JOE: I went back and looked at the Electric Mayhem’s twitter feed to see when their actual first tweet was. It was from December 2015. It was Christmas time. And “We’ve set up a big model train around our tree so we can jam on it and literally rock around the Christmas tree all season long.”
JEFF: We were originally going to do that in this scene. Yeah.
JOE: Yeah. That would have been a very deep Easter egg.
JEFF: What we should have done. I wish we were organized enough to have had the official Twitter account, at one point in this past year, tweet out the word “tweet.”
MATT: Yeah. Tweet.
JOE: There’s no reason they couldn’t have. It costs nothing.
MATT: This is a fictionalized…It’s a fiction. This is a fictionalized show. It’s a show.
JOE: But things from the show make their way into the real world.
MATT: They do.
JOE: Like the band made an album. And I own it now.
MATT: Yeah man. Yeah you do.
JEFF: Real band. Real world.
MATT: That’s right. Because we blur the lines.
BILL: Can’t really back up seven or eight years.
MATT: No. You don’t wanna do that.
BILL: You know what I’m saying?
MATT: You could delete all the tweets.
BILL: Kinda hard to go back there. Yeah. You’d have to redo everything.
MATT: Be a pain in the neck.
JOE: Would it be that much of a loss?
MATT: Probably not.
JEFF: We’re setting up our Christmas tree. “We lost it.”
JOE: Gone forever.
JEFF: That was gold.
JOE: Hannah is the social media expert and she has been assigned Animal to turn him into an internet superstar. So we’re going to see more of that in a moment. And Moog is the only one who knows that this whole thing is going to blow up in a bad way. Not blow up in a good way. And I like that while he’s explaining this, we see Dr. Teeth, Janice and Floyd already taking selfies with her phones. At least, I assume that’s what you’re doing and not just holding them up for reception.
BILL: I think it was trying to figure out still what it does. What to do with this.
JOE: Oh is that what it was.
JOE: They’re holding it in that very specific selfie angle. That’s probably why I assumed that.
BILL: Yeah, I think he’s just trying to see what it does. That was in my mind, anyway.
JOE: Sure, yeah.
BILL: I don’t know about Janice.
MATT: I mean, you might get the impression that these characters are dumb.
MATT: But they’re not. I don’t think they’re dumb. I really don’t think they’re dumb. I think they are innocent. They are innocent.
BILL: They’re inquisitive.
MATT: They are inquisitive. Absolutely. And I love the innocence of that. And all Muppet characters are in some way innocent. And I love that they don’t know what these things are. They haven’t needed them.
JEFF: But there’s mistrust.
MATT: They haven’t needed these things. Yeah, there is, well, he’s been out, you know, they’ve been off in their own worlds.
BILL: They’ve been out in the world.
BILL: But in a world without phones.
MATT: But still, they don’t really need phones or computers. A lot of things take them by surprise. But that’s where the awesome comedy comes from.
BILL: Yeah. It’s an allergic kind of reaction to technology, I think.
JEFF: And change.
MATT: Change. Yeah, sure. Yeah.
JOE: The Mayhem’s first tweet already is getting tons of followers. Way more than they would if they continued to just interact with their fans in person like we used to. And they’re already getting followed by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and so Dr. Teeth decides to tweet to them. And what you say is, “To our fellow music makers, you’re all absotively tremendulous. You’re truly talentulous.” I think I’m saying that right. “With Stupenderous fans.” But it autocorrects half the words to, “You are all absolutely terrible. You are all truly talentless with stupid fans.”
JEFF: Welcome to two hours in the writer’s room.
BILL: I was just going to say, it took us about an hour.
BILL: To come up with the right words to translate.
JEFF: Because you’re writing two things.
JEFF: You’re writing two things simultaneously, and they have to work.
BILL And we wanted them to sound right.
MATT: Which did you write first? Did you write the “you’re all horrible” first?
BILL: I think we needed to figure out what the message was going to be.
BILL: And how they were going to mess it up. Yeah.
MATT: And retrofit it.
JOE: It’s also just such a great gag for building on Dr. Teeth’s…
JOE: …made up words and long-windedness. Of course he would be autocorrected. Of course.
BILL: Well, it took us a while too to figure out how they were going to offend all these people too. That was kind of a challenge for a while. Remember?
JEFF: Right. Originally it was going to be emojis.
BILL: Yeah, emojis. Or what was the message? It was the whole kind of thing as what was the best way to innocently offend them.
BILL: And I don’t remember who came up with… Probably Jeff. Yeah. He’s got his face going.
BILL: It probably was. But yeah, the translator thing.
JEFF: Yeah. The autocorrect just fits perfectly with the character.
JOE: At Wax Town records, they’re all being chewed out by Penny over the tweet. And I like that Moog kind of starts to explain like, “Oh, it was an auto-correct thing.” And she says, “Who is this smart guy and why is he talking to me?” And we all went “Ah, he was Smart Guy on the show Smart Guy.” That was a nice little Easter egg.
JEFF: Yeah. It’s one of the things that absolutely makes the show re-watchable is just what else is happening in all of these shots. What else you guys are doing? And constantly trying to one up each other or just pull focus. It’s a blast. We’re certainly, in the editing room, distracted by just trying to cut the scene that’s in the foreground and sometimes we lose some of those moments.
JEFF: But it is a blast when we spot them and they’re still in there. And that’s great.
JOE: Yeah, I’ve said this before. I’m on my third rewatch of the show right now and because I’m doing the podcast, I’m doing a lot of pausing. A lot of going back and seeing what are you guys doing in the background? What does it say on the wall? That sort of thing. So, I highly recommend anyone out there to just pause it every two seconds and see what else you can see because there’s just so much going on. There’s so much happening on the screen.
MATT: And what’s weird is the timing of the comedy, it’s not affected at all.
JOE: No. Not whatsoever. [laughs]
MATT: It somehow still works.
JOE: That’s how good you guys are.
BILL: That’s how I like to watch things.
BILL: Anything really.
MATT: Yeah, it doesn’t matter what it is. The news!
BILL: Yeah, the news. I like to pause on the news.
JOE: If you’re listening to this podcast, just pause it every few seconds.
MATT: Like right now.
JOE: Yeah, right now.
BILL: We’ll wait.
JEFF: We’ll wait. [laughs]
JOE: Welcome back, everybody.
JEFF: When I would listen to the sound mixes at home, and I think I was telling you that for episode five, my kids sort of stumbled in. They wanted to see it. And I’m like, “This is not the way to see it. The effects aren’t done. Also, I’m gonna be starting and stopping.” They’re like, “We just want to see it.” Okay. And it’s like Animal and JJ and Nora. [imitates Animal] “Nor–Bad– Good.” [in normal voice] And I just kept pausing on that and they couldn’t. They’re like, “We just want to watch this.”
JEFF: “Okay, let me see how far…Nope, we got to change this.” And I’m taking notes again. They loved it.
JOE: Yep. This is why my wife hasn’t watched the show yet. Because she knows if I’m putting it on, I need to do this for the podcast. And she’s like, “I’ll catch it on your next time.”
JEFF: “It’s for work!”
BILL: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
JOE: It is. So the band is in the van. They’re talking about how they’ve created a beef with all of music. And Floyd says, “We don’t beef with nobody. Well, except that one band from River Bottom.”
MATT: Yeah, from River Bottom. Yeah. They were a nightmare.
JOE: And Teeth says, “They were a nightmare.” Yeah.
BILL: Guess where that joke came from.
JEFF: So I fought. Adam, I think, said it on the other ones, I fought for that joke since, I think, day three of the writer’s room.
BILL: And Adam just kept taking it out. Right? [laughs]
JEFF: Yeah. I kept being like, “Where is it? What happened to it?” And he’s like, “Look, we’ll have many bites at this apple” which meant we’re losing it.
JEFF: And then I guess he figured, yeah, by the time we were in the editing room, that’s when we’d lose it. And that’s when I made it very clear, it was very important to me.
BILL: And I guess, didn’t he also say that now, the most thing that people talk about as an Easter egg is that. What he sees on his feeds and everything.
JEFF: For the fans. Yeah.
JOE: Thank you.
JEFF: I just love that there was a point where they were going to beef with a real band. And we were thinking about that. I loved that possibility. Could it be the actual River Bottom Nightmare Band?
JEFF: Would’ve been amazing.
JOE: It would’ve been amazing.
JEFF: For six people, you know?
JOE: [laughs] No, I very much appreciate that you stuck that in there and I was trying to think if there were any other blatant Emmet Otter references in Muppet canon. Especially since the split of Henson and Muppets and Sesame. Because the characters are there for the finale in The Muppet Movie. Like if you kind of squint you can see them, real tiny up close. The only one I can think of, and someone’s gonna correct me when they hear this, is at Disney World, at the Pizza Rizzo restaurant, if you’ve ever been to Pizza Rizzo, there’s one of those boards with the little white letters.
MATT: I know exactly what you’re gonna say, Joe. I know exactly what it is.
JOE: Yeah. You’ve see it, I’m sure.
MATT: I have.
JOE: You know those black felt boards you put the little white letters in them. So I can’t remember what it says.
JEFF: Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas.
JOE: Oh yeah. Must be it. Yeah. No. I can’t remember what the white letters are saying, but if you come close, you could see there was previously letters on this and like, kind of the sun faded a little bit. So you can see what it used to say. And it’s like “Pa Otter memorial concert” or something like that.
JOE: What a great little reference for six of us.
MATT: Yeah and you may not even see it if you go in there because it looks sun-bleached on the billboard.
JEFF: I made it my mission to try to replace any of these Billboards with real or with Muppet references. One of the ones I was looking for, I went through like all these HD copies that I could get my hands on of Emmet Otter, was the music store. I just could never get a clear enough copy to see what that music store was called.
JEFF: But I was gonna try to recreate that.
JOE: Oh, that would have been fun.
JEFF: Sure, for six people.
JOE: For six people. Probably less for that one. I couldn’t tell you what that music store was called.
JEFF: That’s nothing.
JOE: [laughs] So as the van is driving around, they are boxed in at an intersection by four cars. And it turns out it’s all the angry fandoms. Let’s go through them. We got the Swifties. It’s Taylor Swift’s fandom. They are led by Rachel Bloom from Crazy Ex-girlfriend. Her only other Muppet connection that I could find was she was the voice of a dragon in an episode of the 2018 Muppet Babies revival. So that’s a thing that she’s done
BILL: You do your research, Joe. I’ll tell you. You got some good ones out.
JOE: Thanks to Muppet wiki. They did the research and I just stole it from them. We have the Beyhive. That’s Beyonce’s fandom led by Nicole Byer from Nailed It. Love that show.
We’ve got the Beliebers, led by Riki Lindhome from Garfunkel and Oates. She was also Fozzie Bear’s girlfriend, Becky, in The Muppets sitcom from 2015.
BILL: She’s great. She’s so funny. She’s such a great actress.
JOE: She’s so great. And we’ve got Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters led by Jack McBrayer from 30 Rock. He was also a movie theater usher in an episode of Sesame Street from 2015.
MATT: Directed by me! I directed that.
JOE: Oh really? You directed that?
MATT: I did. And Jack’s a buddy of mine.
JOE: Oh he is?
BILL: He’s a good guy. Oh yeah, Matt, they used to live together in Boston.
MATT: Yeah, it was back in the 90s. Yeah. Back in the 90s in Boston.
JOE: Oh really? Oh, you go way back.
MATT: Oh, yeah.
JOE: That’s cool.
MATT: Let me tell you about it.
MATT: So here’s what… we were both looking for– no.
BILL: See. He’s not going to.
MATT: We didn’t…
JOE: No story? No story about–
MATT: We never. We never lived together in Boston or in the 90s. But I do know him and he is a buddy of mine.
JOE: What? Lies. No one’s gonna believe anything we say on this podcast now.
BILL: I got to work with him on Kimmy Schmidt.
BILL: And that’s as far as we go back, but that’s it.
JOE: That’s cool. Yeah.
BILL: He was great though. Really, really funny to have around that day. Everybody was so fun. They were just having such a good time hanging.
BILL: It was hot, but I think everybody had fun.
MATT: Where did we shoot that? Where was that? That was on…
BILL: Oh, that was on the Disney Ranch.
MATT: Was it the Disney Ranch? Yeah, that was a hot day.
JEFF: That was another thing, we had the opportunity to name every storefront.
JOE: I only spotted one of them. I’d love to hear about more.
JEFF: I don’t even remember. I know one is a tribute to Freddie Mercury. The theater, there’s like a marquee. And so we named that theater, I think his real name. But everything else is some sort of music/rock star pun. There’s a pub though that is the name of Adam’s wife and my wife.
JOE: Oh fun.
JEFF: They own a pub, an Irish pub together because they’re both Irish lasses.
JOE: I spotted “Here Comes the Sundries.”
JEFF: Oh, there you go.
JOE: That’s one.
BILL: All right.
JOE: Yeah. That was pretty good.
JEFF: There’s also, I don’t know if it ended up in there, but there was a moving…There’s a van that you rent vans to cover equipment. And we had it was like Van Morrison or something like that we called it.
JEFF: And then you couldn’t read the joke. And so, I think we even said, okay in the effects just call it like Hollywood Van Cover-ups or something like that. I don’t know if it’s in there anymore.
JOE: That’s funny. But yeah, these four people, who we see, Rachel Bloom, Nicole Byer, Riki Lindhome, Jack McBrayer, first of all, they’re all such good sports. But they all, the second you see them, it’s like people who should be working with the Muppets. Like people who are very talented, very funny. Especially Rachel Bloom who hasn’t gotten to play with the Muppets before. She’s so funny in Crazy Ex-girlfriend, but also a songwriter and a singer. And part of me’s a little surprised that it took this long to get her working with the Muppets. So I’m glad that you guys made it happen.
JEFF: If we knew that we were getting these people, we probably would have written it completely differently to utilize their talents.
JOE: Oh, interesting.
JEFF: And they’re just yeah.
BILL: She was very funny though. She was great. With her little hand gesture thing.
JOE: Yeah. And Riki Linhome I’m glad to see her again. Was she someone who you just thought, she was so great with the Muppets, let’s bring her back? Or was it more of a coincidence of oh, we made a connection and you’ve already been here.
BILL: I’m trying to remember if there was… I think it was our casting people that were so good and thought of different people and then they would send us names and say what about…? And we go, “Oh yeah. Well, there you go. That feels right.” So really our casting people brought them up in this situation.
JOE: Yeah. Great.
BILL: Except for, I guess maybe except for Jack. That might have gone through Matt at some point.
MATT: I think it was Kimmy actually.
BILL: Oh. Was it Kimmy? Oh, that’s right.
MATT: Because she knows Jack also.
BILL: That’s right. Maybe that was the connection. She might have been connected to all of them.
MATT: She might have. Yeah.
JOE: Sure. Yeah.
JEFF: Kimmy Gatewood has a big improv background.
JEFF: She’s an actor. And very funny and in that world.
JOE: I also appreciated that Jack McBrayer says, “Mayhem, come out to play.”
ALL: Warriors reference.
MATT: Yeah, yeah.
JOE: That’s good. He just needed little Coke bottles on his fingers.
MATT: He does kind of do that though, right? Kind of goes, “ehhh.”
JOE: Yeah, he does a little thing with his fingers. So Moog points out, as a super fan himself, he knows how this works. “If you cold diss their leader, you cold diss them all.” And the van is brutally attacked by these fandoms which is hysterical but terrifying because everyone is freaking out. The fans walking around. The way you guys edited it made it feel very intense which I appreciate. And Lips is pulled up through the sunroof. The door is ripped off its hinges. Floyd gets grabbed.
JEFF: [imitating Floyd] “They got me!”
JOE: Yeah, and the Beliebers steal the van. And this is it for the van, right? We don’t see it again after this.
BILL: That’s it.
JOE: RIP van.
JEFF: It was a bold move.
BILL: And a budget move.
JOE: Why is that a budget move?
BILL: Well, we had to get a bus.
JEFF: Right. And Nora’s car.
JOE: Sure. You mean it made the budget higher because you needed more?
JEFF: Now you have to get the bus.
BILL: Yeah, we have to have the bus.
JOE: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Because usually when someone says, “Oh, it was a budget thing.” It’s like, “Oh, you need to save some money. I get it.”
JOE: It’s the other way around.
BILL: I needed to be clear.
MATT: It’s the other way.
BILL: Yes. The other way. It was a budget change. It was a budget increase.
JOE: Sure. Yeah.
MATT: But it was the story and you’re telling the best story. And what’s the best story? They got to have the bus.
BILL: And Kris Eber’s the best producer around who figures out a way to make things happen. He’s amazing. So we got our bus.
JOE: So grateful for that bus. We’ll talk about that once we see it in a couple episodes. We’ll check in with Animal and Hannah. He’s doing a big photo shoot. He’s wearing all different outfits and different backgrounds, against a green screen. A couple of these shots, he’s got this great like round head of hair. Like is he wearing a wig? Is this a different puppet? How did you guys accomplish that?
JEFF: I think they groomed him.
JOE: You just combed the hair in a different way and it just made it very spherical?
JEFF: I think so, right?
BILL: I don’t know.
MATT: Let me tell you about this scene.
BILL: Oh yeah.
JOE: Tell me, Matt. Tell me everything about Animal’s hair.
MATT: I was not there for the shooting of this scene because I’m not in this scene.
JEFF: Well, didn’t you get Covid from this scene?
MATT: I might have.
JOE: [laughs] Everybody runs into the shack. They’re freaking out because they’re being chased by the fans. I like that everyone hides. Zoot is wearing a lampshade over his head. Janice is, I think, inside of an amp. Is that what that is?
BILL: Yes. Big, big tower speaker. Yeah.
JOE: Yeah. And Floyd is hanging down from inside of the chimney. Are you actually hanging upside down in that chimney? Or is this?
MATT: I’m not upside down. But I remember Bill coming to me and going, “Hey, can we go take a look and see if you can get your arm down inside this fireplace?” It’s not like a real fireplace. We’re on a set. But I am standing next to the fireplace and reaching very down deep into the fireplace with a monitor kind of taped to the wall or something so I can see.
BILL: Did we do the ladder or did we put boxes so you could be taller. Good thing he has really long arms.
BILL: Because it helped a lot to get him up above.
MATT: It did.
BILL: And then he could reach down.
MATT: I was on apple boxes. Yeah.
JOE: Fascinating. So it sounds like the fireplace set wasn’t built to have a puppeteer inside but you’re like, “Let’s try it anyway.”
BILL: Well, it was all open in the back but we didn’t really intend on using it in any way like that. So we had to make space and find a way to get Matt in there. It wasn’t comfortable, that’s for sure.
MATT: But it was fun and it makes for a great sight gag.
BILL: It looks great.
MATT: Yeah. Looks really great.
JOE: Matt what was the least comfortable position that you were in in the series? Do you recall?
BILL: His trailer.
MATT: Yes. Oh gosh. I feel like it is definitely like in a sofa. I think it’s in that sofa there because there was a certain position I had to be in that was not conducive to where my arm, like, how my arm grows out of my body.
MATT: It was just a very awkward, weird position. It was not great but gotta do it.
JOE: Yeah, whatever it takes for the art.
BILL: I wonder if maybe it’s more comfortable than I remember. But feels like when you were in those blues with Floyd playing the guitar in the street, in the Flashback.
MATT: In the flashback?
BILL: When he’s got his leg up on the bench and was that?
MATT: That was not as bad. No, that wasn’t as bad. But there were some blue screen things where it was harder just because of…I don’t know. Just some different things.
BILL: Because you’re not very good at it.
MATT: It’s that. I just assume that everybody knows that one. But just in terms of set pieces or things like that.
BILL: Right. It’s the set’s fault.
MATT: Well, yeah.
[Bill and Joe laugh]
MATT: And my inability. Yeah.
JOE: So it turns out that all this Twitter beef is a good thing because the band is getting a lot of attention and they’ve been invited to play a virtual concert in Minecraft.
BILL: I’m sorry, Joe. Don’t forgive me, forgive me.
BILL: But I will, in all fairness, Matt actually does have the hardest kind of approach just generally because he’s the tallest. So he tends to have to squat, bend, get lower. He, unfortunately, is probably the only one who can’t just be at his full height all the time because we’re all just ridiculously too short. So he does tend to get, generally he’s probably the one who has to suffer the most. I hate to say it but just to your defense, Matt.
MATT: Oh, thank you.
BILL: You go through more squishing than the rest of us do.
MATT: There might be some squishing or some sliding around on rolly chairs. Stuff like that.
BILL: Yeah. He can be on a chair and we can stand.
MATT: Yeah, I’m like out of high chair with wheels.
BILL: He sits on the chair and we stand. [laughs]
JOE: Well, you would assume that it’d be the other way around. That being tall as a puppeteer would be a benefit. I don’t know why I think that maybe it’s just because Jim and Frank were tall.
MATT: They don’t grow them like they used to.
BILL: Well, that’s the thing. The average has changed. So, the average has gotten shorter over the years. Matt’s in the height where the guys used to be: Jim, Frank, Jerry, Richard. That was the height. But we’ve all, you know, everybody’s gotten shorter and Matt’s still the right height.
JEFF: Still growing.
MATT: I’m still growing. I’m a growing boy.
JOE: Matt, have you considered being shorter?
MATT: I looked into having my legs shortened. It’s very expensive and incredibly painful.
JOE: Whatever it takes for the art. You gotta do it.
MATT: But they give you free ice cream. So that’s plus. That’s on the plus side.
JEFF: You think it’s free? You don’t think you’re paying for that as part of the surgery.
MATT: Well, they said free ice cream.
JOE: It’s depending on whether you’ve met your deductible or not.
MATT: Maybe they’ve hidden it in there. It’s like a line item that I don’t know about.
BILL: I would think about it. I would continue thinking about it, Matt. We got time.
MATT: Okay. I think about it.
MATT: Hey Joe.
MATT: Before you go on to the whole motion capture, Minecraft thing, there’s this moment in there, I want to bring up that’s the scene before that. I think when Nora’s talking about, I think she’s talking about JJ. She’s looking at a video of him.
MATT: And Janice is in there and she has this little story that she tells. And I just want to throw some love out to David Rudman, who, first of all, he’s amazing. But I love the way that Janice just goes, I don’t know, she says something like, [imitates Janice] “Good night.” [in normal voice] After she’s done this whole long story, she goes, [imitates Janice] “Good night.” [in normal voice] And then she turns and she instantly falls asleep.
MATT: Like instantly. Like she has no…There’s nothing. She’s out. She’s snoring, She’s done.
BILL: So good.
MATT: And I just think that the timing on that was just so great and perfect.
MATT: And David Rudman, I think he’s really found a really excellent place for his Janice. It’s like in this really cool spot.
BILL: Yeah. You’re so right. It’s just perfect. Really just perfect.
JOE: Let’s talk about the scene for a second because I also love Janice’s story about there was a free-spirited lass who was torn between two different suitors and it seems obvious that she’s talking about herself but she’s not.
MATT: She’s not.
JOE: She’s talking about Betty.
[Joe, Bill and Matt laugh]
JOE: And one of the suitors was obviously Floyd. And while Betty was being wishy-washy, Janice just swooped in and stole Floyd’s heart.
JOE: And because we know now that we’re getting these little pieces of backstory from everyone and hopefully, we’ll have future seasons of this show to really explore more of that, we might meet Betty. We might see who the other suitor was. I mean, I don’t know. I’m sure you guys are thinking about it.
BILL: I remember actually, not about Betty so much, but I remember kind of sitting at home thinking why would Nora choose JJ over Moog? What would be something that would… And the simplest thing I could think of was a smile. Does that person make you smile? Because they both have great qualities and our original JJ was a little bit more…Right, Jeff?
JEFF: Yeah. More arch.
BILL: He was much more of arch villain. And we were asked to kind of do some notes and to change that a bit. And so they started to feel very likable, which is good, which is great.
BILL: But what is the choice that she makes? And I kept thinking and so I pitched it to Jeff and Adam. I think it helped because you can have great qualities but who makes you smile every day?
JEFF: Yes. It’s such a sweet sentiment.
BILL: Yeah and I think it worked hearing it come out of Janice’s mouth. I think it really helps sell that sweet.
JEFF: Yeah, it’s a beautiful scene.
JOE: Especially since Janice is the one who’s like cosmically in tune with things. Like she knows. She knows the truth.
BILL: And the simplest truth.
JOE: Just waiting for people to catch up to her. Yeah.
BILL: Yeah, it’s the simplest. What is the simplest truth that Janice could find in that and what she would have done? It makes you smile. [laughs]
JEFF: It’s also a funny scene because Janice is so sweet but we put in this little undercurrent of evil. [laughs]
[Bill and Joe laughs]
JEFF: This dark side. That she swoops in and just steals from this poor as a woman who’s now a bag lady.
BILL: In Paramus.
JOE: It’s like she was born to be a cult leader.
JOE: Like, that’s what you just described. Yeah.
BILL: And I love Lilly’s first line. What is it, Jeff? Where she can’t tell that she’s asleep or not. [laughs]
MATT: Hard to tell.
BILL: So good. She plays that so great.
MATT: “Nighty night.” [snores]
JOE: The band is getting ready for this Minecraft concert. Is this a thing, by the way? Minecraft concerts? I don’t play Minecraft.
JEFF: Absolutely, and we used the company that does this thing.
MATT: It is?
JOE: Oh, really? Like for the animation, you mean?
JOE: That’s cool.
JEFF: This company called Noxcrew. They are known, they’re like these incredible Minecraft group of creators who do these events. Like BTS famously had this concert in Minecraft. All these different acts do. But this was different, way different for them.
JEFF: Because what they do is they will take the track, the music and they will animate a whole concert. What they had here was all this story that they had to tell.
JEFF: And so it was a learning curve for them. It was a learning curve for us.
BILL: It became a storyboarded approach and had to be all broken down into shots. They couldn’t just animate the entire thing. Right? We did have we’d have some, for some shots and then we could play. Right, Jeff? With the movement of the shot.
JEFF: Yeah, I think they could animate the concert and how they were playing, but then we specifically were like, “Okay cool. Now, take that virtual camera and shoot it. We want to start with a close up of Floyd and pull out.”
JEFF: And that’s just the music stuff but then there’s scene around this.
BILL: Yeah. We need the low angle. Can we do a low angle here that helps sell the evil fans.
JEFF: And by the way, here’s new dialogue.
BILL: Yeah, right.
BILL: They were great. They really, I think they did a great job.
MATT: When I was thinking about and watching this show back, I couldn’t remember Bill and Jeff, when we shot it and we had the music. “We Are One.”
MATT: Originally that song was much slower. Not much slower.
JEFF: Oh yeah.
MATT: But considerably slower.
MATT: And did we shoot it slower on the day, or did we go back and it was sped up?
BILL: It was sped up.
MATT: Sped up in post?
JEFF: In post. This song is great. But yeah, it just did not feel like it was this call to action for all these people to unite in a loving way.
MATT: I recorded the vocals that are on the album right here.
JEFF: Oh yeah?
MATT: In my home studio, I believe.
MATT: Yeah, right here. I had to do it here because we were just shooting out of necessity. But I couldn’t remember if we had shot it slower and it is actually the way it is now it’s one of my favorite songs on the record. And freaking Ringo Starr…
MATT: …is helping out Animal on the drums. It’s Ringo Starr!
JOE: How did that happen?
MATT: There’s not enough of a big deal being made about that connection.
BILL: Yeah, that’s Linda. Connection Linda.
JEFF: Yeah, Linda works. She brings in session musicians to just record live even on her demos. She’ll just bring in a group to play all that stuff live. She just happens to be friends with Ringo Starr.
JEFF: And she’s like, “Hey do you want to play with Animal on this track?” And he laid down this beat.
JEFF: And you hear it. Like once you know it’s Ringo. You’re like what is happening right there is very unique and not what a normal average drummer would do.” It’s incredible and absolutely I am shocked they haven’t parlayed this into a bigger deal.
MATT: We did a little bit of PR stuff with it. We did a little bit.
MATT: Like there was like just a small amount but I wish.
JEFF: Well the other thing that’s telling, so you did record it. We filmed it at a silver rate and so when we’re editing, we have to take into consideration, you can speed up footage but it starts to look a little weird, so you have to be very judicious with which clips you use. Especially when there’s a clapping breakdown. Because that is a set rhythm and all of a sudden that starts to be a giveaway.
MATT: Yeah. I was wondering because those shots of the band singing. Of course, a lot of it does live in the Minecraft world as well.
JEFF: Yeah. It was a challenge.
MATT: Are there plans to put the Electric Mayhem into Minecraft?
JEFF: I think that was one of the things that this could be…
MATT: Really should.
JEFF: …a huge time. This was like a big, big deal for Disney, for Muppets.
JOE: I want to point out also, we meet Clark, who’s the guy who’s doing all the mocap work. He’s played by Joe Lo Truglio best known probably for Brooklyn 99.
MATT: Love him.
JOE: I am a huge fan of his because he was a member of The State. The sketch comedy show from the 90s.
JOE: Which is one of my favorites of all time. And from what I can tell, he’s the first member of The State to work with the Muppets. There was 11 cast members and they’ve gone on to great things. Wet Hot American Summer, Reno 911, Stella, a bunch of other great stuff. And I know that Ken Marino was at the Muppets Most Wanted red carpet because I interviewed him on the press line. But other than that he’s the first one so about time. Glad you guys got him.
JEFF: What about Dan Marino? Does Dan Marino count?
BILL: Dan Marino did a lot of Muppets.
JEFF: Yeah. That was it.
MATT: Too much Muppet stuff.
JEFF: Some would say.
JOE: I love the Dan Marino Christmas special that he did with the Muppets. That’s a classic. When Clark announces the band to all the people in Minecraft, he’s got his little voice in the microphone, but then we also hear the voice of John Bailey, who is the voice from the Honest Trailers Youtube videos in the Minecraft world. And he’s credited as the voice of God. Which seems like an interesting choice from you guys.
JEFF: Voice of god, isn’t that just a theater term when you just get the director speaking onstage.
MATT: Yeah. The VOG.
MATT: Look it up Joe. Look it up.
JOE: I don’t know things.
JEFF: Learn about theater!
JOE: I don’t know anything.
BILL: Come on, Joe.
[Matt, Joe and Bill laugh]
JEFF: Yeah, that was an Adam phone call. He’s like, “Wouldn’t it be cool if it was the trailer guy.” I was like, “I guess. Don LaFontaine?”
JEFF: And he’s like, “No, no. Hang on.” And he just wrote an email and then all of a sudden we got it back within like two hours. He did a scratch track for us. That’s cool.
JOE: Just as the band starts to play someone throws a Minecraft TNT dynamite thing at the band. It kills Lips. That’s sad.
BILL: Takes him out for a minute.
JEFF: he regens.
JEFF: That’s a Minecraft term.
JOE: Right. So in the Minecraft worlds, the Swifties, the Beyhive, the Beliebers, The Little Monsters are all attacking. We see…
MATT: Even the Natalie Merchant Marines.
BILL: That’s my favorite.
JOE: Yeah, the Natalie Merchant Marines.
BILL: That’s my favorite too.
JOE: That’s a great line and I assumed incorrectly that Rihanna’s Navy was a joke. Because I’m like, “Oh, it’s a Battleship reference. But that’s what they call Rihanna fans is Rihanna’s Navy. I didn’t know that.
JEFF: Yeah, that is true.
JOE: But the band takes its opportunity to sing “We Are One.” It’s a great song. And rainbows emanate from the band, transform everybody, sun comes out. Everybody loves the Mayhem and now they love each other through the power of music.
JEFF: You make it sound so easy. It was several grueling certainly months of the back and forth. I mean really just us figuring it out. I mean, again, they animated this thing, Noxcrew, and then at a certain point we changed the tempo of the song. It just changes everything. And ironically fittingly has rippling effects.
BILL: The stage changed. We wanted to have clouds at a certain time.
BILL There was just constantly something because the more we would watch it we’d go is the intention of the scene clear? Is it clear that’s going from this regular fans to then the people who are coming to attack then? And watching that get dark and then seeing that change, like we just needed those beats. And I think for a while, we just felt like it was one run, it was kind of almost one note. But it just ultimately we got there but it was a lot of work.
JEFF: I think the other thing was that we don’t know Minecraft particularly well.
JEFF: Well, can’t they do this?
JEFF: And they were like, “Well, so we did build something that could do this.”
JEFF: Like they had to do all these crazy work-arounds to make what we wanted a reality.
BILL: We do have geese and unicorns.
BILL: Do they work for the bad characters?
JEFF: That was another thing. You know, we specifically wanted animals that represented these band groups. What about snakes? Do snakes work? And they’re like, “Welllllll…”
BILL: [laughs] Yeah.
JOE: Well, you got the bees in there. I feel like the bees were important.
JEFF: We got the bees.
BILL: The bees were great. Yes.
JEFF: What did Taylor Swift end up with? Llamas? Horses?
JOE: Yeah, they come in on horses. They come in on horseback.
BILL: And then we had zombies, right?
JEFF: Right. For The Little Monsters.
JOE: Right. No. That makes sense. Yeah. So the concert’s a big hit. Nora throws the band a classic Mayhem party back at the shack. But they are all too engrossed in their phones to really appreciate it. Like a bunch of Millennials.
BILL: Just want to point out the psychedelic foods on the table. Pretty great. I thought those were awesome. Not psychedelic foods, but the…
JEFF: Technicolor, tie-dye.
BILL: Tie-dye. Tie-dyed foods.
MATT: I also have something to say about this scene. My biggest memory of this scene is that I was not there for this scene.
BILL: You were not there. [laughs]
MATT: Because this is again, the Covid thing that kept me from being there. But Peter Linz subbed in for me on this scene and made it very easy to ADR my lines on that line that I had there.
MATT: So it was great. I didn’t even need to be there.
BILL: Yeah, he did Lips and Floyd. Yeah.
JOE: Why did we have you on this episode, Matt? [laughs]
MATT: It’s just what the schedule was. It’s fine.
JEFF: It was just a quick shot too if I recall. Fit the schedule.
MATT: Just like really quick, in and out. Like, one take and we got it.
JEFF: The sno-cone truck.
BILL: It was really smooth. Everybody was the same height.
BILL: Worked really great.
MATT: Yep. Probably super easy. I get it. Yeah.
JOE: Moog has finished producing the album. The album is done. We have two episodes left to go. I’m sure everything will go super smoothly now that the big thing is finished. Nora gets a phone call from the Hollywood Bowl. They saw the concert and they want to make a deal. Great. Everything’s coming up Millhouse. She agrees to move in with JJ, which is a big deal for all of them.
But Moog sees it all go down and he’s feeling pretty hurt. That’s pretty much where the episode ends on this cliffhanger Disney Plus is gonna love this. Except for the fact that we see Zoot with his iPhone and all his photos rain down from the cloud that he had been taking throughout the episode, which is a great visual gag.
MATT: I love that. Love that button of the photos falling from the cloud. I also love the previous…there’s a setup part way back in the beginning of the episode, where he does this great…he just looks up and he holds his hand out and nothing.
MATT: And it gets paid off here.
BILL: Cloud’s broken.
JEFF: Cloud’s broken.
MATT: Yeah, just great. I love that. But I have to say, I really feel for Moog. I really do and it’s not just because it’s well written. But Tahj Mowry, who plays Moog, could not be sweeter and just nails every scene that he is in.
MATT: And when he says in the scene after he says the album’s finished and he says that smile made it all worth it.
BILL: That’s it. Yep. There it is.
JOE: The smile.
MATT: The smile.
BILL: Got the smile in.
MATT: He’s just so great. I know we don’t have a ton of time left but I just have to say, when we all met, we read the first, I don’t know what it was, two or three episodes. Maybe we did like one at a time. And we did them over Zoom. And that’s how we all met each other really was over Zoom. And when I met, via Zoom, Tahj, I just…he just…there was this happiness and just this this glow that emanated from the Zoom screen and I just thought, I was like, “I just want to hug that guy. I just want to hug him.”
MATT: And we got to the set. And the first time I met Tahj was on the set in the shack.
BILL: In the shack.
MATT: The first time I met him I said, “Tahj, can I give you a hug?” And he goes, “Come here. Bring it in.” And he gave me this big hug.
BILL: Aww, nice.
MATT: He’s just the sweetest guy. Yeah, I mean, all our humans are fantastic and I love all of them.
JOE: There’s a shot early in this episode with Joe Lo Truglio where he’s so happy he grabs Tahj. And he hugs him.
BILL: Oh yeah.
JOE: And I assume that wasn’t in the script that was just, he’s just so huggable. You just gotta grab him.
MATT: He is.
MATT: He’s huggable.
BILL: We had never seen anyone go down to the studio.
BILL: We’ve only seen them coming from that area over there, but we never saw anybody go down that behind that wall and down. And on the day, I said we got to just paint studio like as if they did it and put an arrow down there. So our set person came over and she just like banged it out. She just made it, called it studio, so you could see, we knew where he was coming from and going to.
JEFF: When we did our pitch, we’d met the guys and everything over Zoom, this was all over Zoom. But then for our pitch we had Adam, me and Bill. Although you weren’t on at that point.
BILL: Yeah, no.
JEFF: Because what happened was our Zoom gets crashed by the Mayhem. So, as we’re pitching this to Disney Plus, all of a sudden these little windows start populating the Zoom as each of the band members appear. And talking to a Muppet like that gets you a green light.
[Joe and Bill laugh]
JEFF: Just having them pop up on the screen and these people were watching their own Muppet Show. And then, yeah, to just be on that screen as one of those people and just with the Muppets was just a thrill. But it was very cool. Each you guys set up your own spaces. Like your own little den.
MATT: Yeah, I had some, I don’t know, tie-dyed something in the background, I think and some Christmas lights or whatever it was. We all had our own little thing that we did in our box.
BILL: Setup. Yep.
JOE: That’s great. Well I would have greenlit the show with that. Absolutely.
JEFF: It was very cool. It was very cool of everyone to do.
JOE: Matt, do you have any other memories from the series? Something from maybe a different episode that you want to share? People that you worked with? Really great or terrible moments performing Floyd on Muppets Mayhem?
BILL: Do a terrible one.
MATT: Oh here’s a terrible moment.
JOE: Yeah, give me a bad one. What’d you hate?
MATT: For us, like kind of a longer shoot, and usually there might be a moment where you’re just like, “Oh, they just…I’m frustrated about something, this…” I don’t remember ever being frustrated. Other than the false Covid thing. I was frustrated by that because I really missed not being there for these moments. There’s like I think there’s another moment in a van where I’m not there for that, but I don’t think I say anything. Oh, I know which one it is. It’s when they all get sick. When they all get motion sickness. I think it’s the next episode.
MATT: When they’re all looking at their phones, they all get motion sickness. I wasn’t there for that. What was terrible for me was not being able to be there with my brothers and sisters in the van. Or just in the scene or whatever because it was just such a fun show.
BILL: As great as Peter and Alice are, we missed you too. You get used to being together in these spaces.
BILL: And feeding each other.
MATT: Yeah. It’s wild how we’ve known each other for decades. A long time. And it makes it so much easier to be able to work with somebody in a scene when you kind of can feel where they’re going to go and you can jump on and go with them there and add to it. It just was nothing. It was just a pleasure to go to work every day. It really was.
JEFF: Was it about like, who in the parking lot, whose car you parked next to? Was that what made it special?
MATT: Well, I do think that we had spaces next to each other.
JEFF: We were parking pals.
MATT: Right? Were you and I next to each other?
JEFF: That’s how I considered us.
BILL: Matt noticed where you were parked, Jeff.
JEFF: Yeah, I know. I found it very special. I was special, right?
MATT: You were next to me? Which side? Was I on the outside? I don’t remember? [laughs]
JEFF: Just because I had a bike?
MATT: I know where Bill was right next.
BILL: You knew where I was. Yeah, I know where Matt was.
MATT: Like, right there.
BILL: Where were you, Jeff? You were next to Matt?
MATT: I’m just guessing he must have been next to me. [laughs]
JEFF: Yeah, my mom dropped me off but most of the days.
MATT: But in all honesty, it would have been great. And I know you were busy I guess writing the show or whatever.
MATT: But in the times that you were able to come to set and be on set with us and throw out alts. And Bill was great about coming up with alts but then he’d also, you’d also, text Jeff and Adam.
MATT: You’d be like, “Okay, hey, what about, how about this?” And you’d wait for them to text back. And just to kind of keep it moving so that we would have some sort of alt. And when something wasn’t working or just to kind of plus something. And it just seemed like you guys had a system down that worked really well.
MATT: I mean I’ve said before it before…
MATT: I just wish I would have been there more.
JEFF: It’s so much fun being down there and watching you guys work and watching you have fun and then, yeah, just coming up with ideas. We would text back and forth. What do you think of this? We would scribble stuff on or we ran by like the music stores. Like, “Hey what do you think of these possible?” But yeah, I wish that I could have been down there more. It’s just so much fun.
JOE: Well, Matt Vogel, thank you so much for being here. It was such a joy to get to talk to you about Floyd. Thank you for all you’ve brought to the character on this great series. And, Bill and Jeff, thank you for being here again. I can’t get rid of you guys. I hope to have you back again next week.
BILL: Yeah. Ehhh.
JEFF: Bill, are you still sorry?
MATT: You can hear it in his voice.
BILL: I knew this wasn’t going to be a good one.
MATT: Yeah. I know. Maybe next week. You got two more shots. Maybe one of these, it’ll stick.
BILL: Oh no, the others are great.
BILL: I just had a feeling this one wasn’t gonna fly. Yeah, we’re gonna do this with…
MATT: You should do it with Peter.
JEFF: With a different Floyd.
MATT: Or anybody.
BILL: Yeah, we’re gonna do this one with Alice.
MATT: Yeah, use Alice or use Peter. It’s fine.
BILL: With Peter. See how he felt.
MATT: And then I’ll ADR it.
JOE: Perfect. Great. Well, thank you again for being here. Everyone else. We will see you again next week on 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.
For more from Tough Pigs find us @Toughpigs on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Patreon.
Thanks for listening and until next time, rock on!