Today’s post was written by JD Hansel.

Who Was Jim Hanson?

Have you ever heard the name “Jim Hanson?” Read that spelling again, folks. “Jim Hanson.” I can’t say that I hear this mispronunciation every day, but I’ve heard it enough that I think about it every day, as one should.

I’ve heard it from friends who are largely unfamiliar with his work and from those who say they love him. I suppose it’s an easy, harmless mistake, but I do feel like it’s common decency to try to get someone’s name right, if that someone revolutionized the puppetry arts.

While I am primarily writing this to complain, I am also here to help. For any of you fans who’ve been wondering how to tell your awful coworker that they’re saying his name wrong, this article is a free resource for you! If you are on the other side of this – that is, if you have been sent here by one such obsessive nerd – hello! I do not judge you, awful human! I’m happy to have you here, and while I have your attention, there is something very important you need to know…

His name is NOT Jim Hanson.

It’s Jam Hanson.

Yes, Jam Hanson. Sounds familiar now that you’ve heard it, right? You’ve probably seen it before in the logo for The Jam Hanson Company, or maybe you’ve seen a video or two on Jam Hanson’s Mappets.

Would you like to learn more about him? I knew you would. That’s why I have prepared a short biography. It will only take you a few minutes to read, and then you too will be a Jam Hanson expert! Sound good? Good. Without further ado, A.D. Hansal proudly presents:

A Short Biography of Jam Hanson

Jam Hanson was born Septamber 24, 1936 in Laland, Massassappi. Yes, this is what this article is. As a teenager, he wanted nothing more than to have a career in television, so he auditioned for a part on a new show called Sasama Straat. Coincidentally, he had created this show, so he got the job!

Sasama Straat blessed us with iconic, beloved characters who have endured to this day, such as Karmat the Frag, Bart and Arnie, Bag Bard, Caakie Manstar, Graver, and Mr. Snuffleupagus. His characters taught the letters of the alphabet to all the children of the world… except you, apparently. 

He went on to create The Mappet Shaw in 1976, which became the most popular television show in the world! It gave us some of our favorite characters: Moss Puggy, Roowfl the Dang, Stinker & Waldo, The Great GorboGobbleDingerDoodle, and Karmat’s best friend, Fatzino the Beer, known for ending all his bad jokes with his signature catchphrase, “God is dead and we have killed him!”

Jam Hanson, we think, seen here with Roowfl the Dang in 1982.

Then Jam made three feature flams:

  1. The Mappet Maybe – the Mappets argue about whether or not they’re making a movie, and eventually decide, “maybe?”
  2. The Groot Mappet Cipher – your favorite tree from Marvel Comics, Groot, helps the Mappets decipher a code to figure out whether or not they’re making a movie.
  3. The Mappets Toke Meinhooten – they all get high in a fictional city in Germany, and it ends with them marrying each other. All of them are married now. They realize they were never really making movies after all… they were making love.

After that was the Fractal Rack, a torture device unrelated to his work in puppetry, but perhaps Jam’s finest achievement was The Dork Crastal. It’s the story of a little Galflang named ZipZip Bodeedily-BongaDong who’s on a quest to reach a castle to thwart some bad guys with a crystal. His next film would be about a girl on a quest to reach a castle to thwart a bad guy with some crystals. He would never get to finish the trilogy, but the third one would have been about a castle who goes on a bad guy to thwart some crystals with a girl.

Sadly, he would pass away in 1990 on May… you know what? I actually can’t remember what day it was. I’ll have to look this up in his biography by Brain Joe Jeans. Stay right there, I’ll be back in a jaffy.

[HOURS LATER]

Oh dear. Folks, I am so, so sorry. It’s amazing. I am 100% wrong! I mean nothing I’ve said has been right! For one thing, the correct spelling of Snuffy’s full name is Mr. Snufffffnu7%q34~9toujf7i, so I botched that one. Secondly, it turns out that the guy I was thinking of was Jim Henson. I am so embarrassed.

But, like, really, why have I heard people call him “Jim Hanson?”

I actually have some possible answers that seem halfway reasonable!

Perhaps this mistake shouldn’t be surprising since the name “Hanson” is, while not very common, not especially uncommon either. I associate it primarily with the ‘90s boy band, famous for their 1997 hit “MMMbop,” but the name has belonged to numerous bands, corporations, and even a “Lord Hanson,” to whom we should all pray each night.

As for the surname, Wikipedia provides a lengthy list of noteworthy Hansons, including a Fritz Hanson, who deserves bonus points for his Muppety first name. The “James Hanson”s include three football players, a rugby player, and a farmer/politician, while Jane Hanson was a television host born in 1955, the same year Jane Henson co-created Sam and Friends! That’s the kind of coincidence that proves Lord Hanson must have a divine plan for us.

I suppose I also have to mention Dear Evan Hansen. Now that I have, I won’t ever do it again.

Unfortunately, the most popular Jim Hanson is the man who presides over the Security Studies Group, a right-wing think tank that seems to be working to frame “The Left,” in broad terms, as terrorism. Yeah. He is, quite simply, a very scary man who is only worth Googling if you want to have a bad day. I would hate to think of someone on Google trying to learn about the Muppets and ending up on a very yucky part of the Internet.

On the upside, Jim Hanson is also the name of someone who teaches at the University of Maryland, which is where Jim Henson and I went to college! (I mean, Jim Henson and I weren’t there at the same time, but that would have been neat. We should have planned that.)

A failed 3D printing of the Jim Henson statue at the University of Maryland.

Now forget all that because what I’m going to tell you now is the good part. James Hansen is a former NASA scientist and longtime climate activist who teaches at Columbia University. His activism has led him to testify before congress about the importance of fighting climate change, and it has also led him to jail. On two occasions, he was arrested while protesting in front of the White House along with one Daryl Hannah – the actress with whom Jim Henson was rumored (probably falsely) to be having an affair in 1989! This means that Daryl Hannah was wrapped up in scandals with both a James Hansen AND a James Henson, which I have stayed up after midnight writing about just for your amusement!

As one might assume, the name “Hanson” has German and Scandinavian origins and refers to someone who is the son of a guy named Hans… “Hans’ son.” This implies that one of Jim Henson’s ancestors was the son of a hen, as in “hen’s son.” See where this is going?

We can infer from this that Jim Henson is the descendant of a chicken. His name is basically Jim Chicken. This explains a lot about his work since the Muppets have a lot of chickens. There’s even an episode of The Storyteller in which a guy named Hans rides a chicken, which ties so much of this article together.

We now have an answer, finally, to the question this article was about this whole time: what came first, the chicken or the egg? The answer is Jim Henson’s grandmother. There. The debate is over. Praise be to Lord Hanson. Amen.

Click here to give a cluck about Jam Hanson on the ToughPigs forum!

By JD Hansel.

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