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Jarrod Fairclough – As promised, Muppet Guys Talking became available this morning over at MuppetGuysTalking.com and it’s already getting rave reviews online. To celebrate, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta and Fran Brill got on Facebook Live to basically do Muppet Guys Talking 2! For over an hour they chatted amongst themselves and answered questions from fans, and were joined by some very special guests! Adam Savage, Alan Tudyk, Rian Johnson, David Arquette, Derek DelGaudio and Andy Nyman all popped in to talk about the film, their favorite characters and of course, the legacy of Jim Henson, as well as some hilarious stories about Richard Hunt.
It’s well worth sitting down for 70 minutes if you missed it and watching this, because it really is the perfect companion piece to Muppet Guys Talking.
Warning: This review contains spoilers for the new documentary Muppet Guys Talking, so don’t read on unless you want to know specifics, or unless you’ve gone to MuppetGuysTalking.com and purchased the film. You should definitely do that, by the way. There’s 2 options available, with a VIP option for those with deeper pockets. Go now! NOW!
Jarrod Fairclough – Muppet Guys Talking opens with director and Muppet performer Frank Oz, showing off the now famous Muppet Pipes, which were created by Frank, Don Sahlin, Jerry Juhl, and of course, Jim Henson, during the downtime before the shooting of The Jack Paar Show in 1964. As Frank discusses the reasons for the decorations, he reveals just why they’re so important to him – This is the spirit of The Muppets. And if you weren’t going to call this documentary Muppet Guys Talking, you could absolutely have called it The Spirit of The Muppets, because that one single line perfectly encapsulates this 65 minute documentary.
The film, originally shot in 2012 in New York, features Frank, Fran Brill, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta and the late Jerry Nelson, as they talk about their time with The Muppets, creating their individual various characters, and their memories of Muppet founder Jim Henson, who passed away in 1990. In my spoiler free review on Monday, I spoke about Jim’s presence in the documentary, but allow me now to go in to a little more detail.
At multiple times, Frank talks about Jim in the present tense, and it’s because in each story about him, these performers make him come alive. Whether it’s Dave recounting how Jim rushed back from his own mothers funeral just to have breakfast with him, or Jerry Nelson’s hilarious story about an archer shooting an arrow at a puppet he and Jim were performing, all of them have such a wealth of love for Jim that it’s easy to see why he’s still so prevelent in their lives, and ours, almost three decades since his passing. When all 4 performers aside from Bill talk about his humor and wisdom, they do their little Jim impersonations, incidently sounding a lot like Kermit. They talk about the environment that Jim created, one that nurtured playful silliness without judgement. Jerry talks about Jim’s work ethic on an overnight flight. Dave tells a hilariously heartwarming story about Jim calling him when he worked for Hewlett Packard. Honestly, this whole review could be filled with the stories the Muppet Guys told about their fearless leader, because there’s at least another 5 paragraphs full of them, and each one connects not only with their friends hearing it, but with the audience as well, which is a huge testiment to not only the performers telling the stories, but to Jim as well.
The whole time, we’re not just the fly on the wall while a group of friends have a laugh. After over 50 years of friendship, these guys have a rapport that can’t easily be matched, and the laughter and teasing and affection is palpable, to the point where it almost feels like you’re part of the conversation. Fran refers to them as brothers on a couple of occassions. Dave refers to the dynamic as ‘kind and generous’, which he says he and Bill still feel with the group of new guys performing these characters. And he’s not wrong, the entire conversation, even when it gets teasingly nasty, is filled with kindness and generosity. During a quick break in filming, we’re shown the gang getting coffee, and Frank’s first port of call is to ask a frail Jerry Nelson if he’s okay, and if he wants anything. Then, he tells Bill he’s free to leave now, because it wouldn’t be Frank without a little sour with his sweet. It’s a natural moment of kinship, and it’s one of my favorite moments of Muppet Guys Talking.
The film’s also educational. Hardcore fans will be familiar with a lot of the stories and information presented, but there’s also a lot I didn’t know. I learnt that Howard Tubman came about in the moment when Bill put on a Viking Pig, and I learnt that Frank was the first Muppet performer Dave ever met (he had 2 questions, 1 of which was about Grover’s nose). But I also learnt what flaws in Dave make Gonzo, Bunsen and Zoot. I learnt that Frank sees Fozzie as the only guy without a key to The Muppet Theater. I learnt how Fran made Prairie Dawn more willful. This film is as much about the characters as it is about the performers. We’re even treated to the rarest of rare – Frank Oz doing a Muppet voice without a Muppet on his hand. Admittedly, it’s just Grover saying ‘Hmm?’, but we’ll take what we can at this point. It’s also told just how important everyone in the creating process is to a character, down to how the Muppets feel on the inside when they’re built. It’s a quick, but fascinating glimpse in to the process, and we’re given just a moment of an interview with Jerry Juhl from way back.
There are two quotes at the end of Muppet Guys Talking that I feel need to be given in their entirety. The first is by the late Jerry Nelson, who treats us to one last piece of wisdom, as he talks on why The Muppets are so special to so many people;
A lot of people who feel disenfranchised in life, feel accepted in that Muppet world… Kids know when somebody’s a little different, and they usually are not nice about it. I think that The Muppets is something that they can relate to because of a lot of their own, uh, being shunned, or whatever, being a little different, which they are, you know? They’re bears and frogs and chickens and pigs hanging out together.
The other is by Dave Goelz, when producer Victoria Labalme asks what the nobility behind his work is;
Folly. It’s folly. Human folly. You know? It’s celebrating the degree to which we’re all lost, you know?
These two quotes sum up so much for me. They sum up so much why these characters work. Some of us feel so lost in this world, that it’s nice to see a rag tam team of misfits get together, because it reminds us that we’re not alone. It’s a terrifying moment in your life when you realize the adults don’t have all the answers. But maybe, when we’re together, we can forget that and have some fun, and that’s where Muppet Guys Talking shines. It celebrates folly. And we’d all do well to celebrate that a little more.
Bonus: During our interview with Frank Oz (Part 1 here and Part 2 here), I asked Frank just what ‘The Camel’ is, seeing as the last few moments of Muppet Guys Talking is dedicated to Dave teasing him about it. He wouldn’t tell me, instead just saying:
Frank: ‘The Camel’ is something that will forever be in the heart of Dave Goelz, and nowhere else…
Jarrod Fairclough – As I prepared to end my interview with Frank Oz, 20 minutes in to the 15 minute time slot I was allotted, Frank stopped me, and urged me to continue asking questions. At this point, I was equal parts flustered and ecstatic, and everything I asked from here on out was made up on the spot.
Jarrod: Alright, now I’m totally going off book here. Talking about The Muppet Show, obviously the various guest stars were very important. Were there some that worked particuarly better than others? Obviously I’m not looking for names of people that weren’t as great!
Jarrod: But were there some that worked really well in that environment?
Frank: It’s interesting, you know, most worked really well. I don’t recall any that didn’t. Some were better than others, but they all worked well because the characters are very pure. They’re very disarming. So there was an easy rapport because there was no agenda. The characters just enjoyed the guest stars, and the guest stars felt that. Also, when you’re a guest star on The Muppet Show, it’s a very rare situation, because you are the only human. There’s no other humans. So that’s a wonderful oppurtunity for people who were stars, like actors and actresses and comedians. They loved it, because the spotlight was all on them. There was something about the characters, and the purity of the characters, the affection for the characters. It just disarms everybody. All the guest stars were great. There were guest stars that we all enjoyed differently. I loved singing with Elton John, for instance. That was great. I loved doing comedy with Milton Berle. But everybody – me, Davey, Jim, they’d all tell you they had their favorites. We got lucky. They all wanted to do the show. John Cleese, for instance. So many.
Jarrod: Do you have a favorite sketch from The Muppet Show?
Frank: It really is. As far as the funny ones go, I liked ‘Lullaby in Birdland‘, that was fun. I loved ‘Vikings‘, the viking ship was fun. Oh, and all the Muppet performers under motorbikes following Miss Piggy and Link Hogthrob. Those are the ones that come to mind. There’s so many more. What’s yours?
Jarrod: I think my favorite would have to be ‘Hugga Wugga‘ that you did in Season One.
Frank: (amazed) Really!?
Jarrod: I love it! It’s one of my favorite things in the world.
Frank: Wow! Well, I’ll be darned. Hugga Wugga!? The first version of that was actually called ‘Sclrap Flyapp‘. It was done in the late 1960’s, with different characters, but essentially the same outcome. It was slightly different, I can’t remember the difference. But instead of ‘Hugga Wugga’ it was ‘Sclrap Flyapp’. I don’t even know now why we changed it to Hugga Wugga.
Jarrod: Very few things can make me laugh like that.
Frank: It’s a good one. Another favorite of mine is Jim’s ‘Mahna Mahna’!
Jarrod: Oh, of course! That has become a classic for a reason.
Frank: It is. He was absolutely brilliant.
Jarrod: Starting these characters out in 1976, did you know then that The Muppet Show would become a worldwide hit? How did it feel being one of the main driving creative forces behind that show?
Frank: I never thought about it. Never thought about it for a second. If you think about that, then your ego gets in the way and you don’t do good work. So all I did, along with the other performers, was every week, we hunkered down, had as much fun as we could, worked as hard as we could. We rehearsed, we focused. Never once did I think about that. Even when we did a lot of interviews, it didn’t effect me. That fame aspect doesn’t affect me in the slightest.
Jarrod: That’s interesting, you say that fame aspect doesn’t appeal to you. Where then does Miss Piggy’s drive to be famous come from? Is that not coming from you?
Frank: She doesn’t have a drive to be famous. She has a drive to be loved by Kermit. She has a drive to be loved by people. Fame is just a way to do it.
Jarrod: …Wow. Okay. That completely changes her character for me.
Frank: Yeah, she’s very vulnerable inside. She just wants to be loved, and thought highly of, and pretending to be famous is her way of thinking that might happen.
Jarrod: …Okay. That, uh… That has wrinkled my brain a little bit.
Frank: (laughs) There’s always serious stuff underneath the characters. If there’s not, then they’re not funny.
Jarrod: No, absolutely. And I think that’s where, going back to the characters under Disney, that’s the sort of thing the writers need to understand. That these characters have so much history and so much underneath them. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the term ‘Flanderized’?
Frank: I am, yeah.
Jarrod: I feel like that has affected some of The Muppets over the last 10 years. And I think it’s important that before we continue on, that we strip that back, and we make these characters, for lack of a better term, ‘human’ again.
Frank: I agree with you 100%. You can’t write for these characters and just make it funny. You’ve gotta go back and see who they are and what their jealousies are. Their pet peeves, their loves, their desires. The obstacles in front of them. You need to do all that in order to make the relationships and the humor work. The trouble is the people writing for them aren’t going that distance, I think they just want to make things funny. That’s never worked for The Muppets. But you’re absolutely right about the ‘human’ thing.
Jarrod: Do you think you could walk in Disney tomorrow and say ‘Let’s give this a go’? I know we spoke about this earlier, but surely the great Frank Oz has some sort of leverage?
Frank: No, it’s a different world. All these companies are owned by large corporations. I mean, Disney as a corporation owns everything else! But I don’t think so. I think it still all comes down to one thing, and that’s numbers. If Frank Oz walks in there and says ‘I’m Frank Oz, let’s do a movie!’ they couldn’t care less. If I were to say ‘Hey, I’m Frank Oz, and here I can show you, I can prove to you, I can guarantee that by making this movie you’ll make a lot of money’, then they’d say yes. It’s not cynical. It’s just true.
Jarrod: Of course, and it’s probably easy for me to say that it would be that simple, sitting in my little house in Melbourne, Australia. But obviously you’ve got the experience to know how it really works.
Frank: Yeah. It’s a numbers game. A friend of mine said this to me recently – it’s called show business for a reason. It’s not called show show.
Jarrod: At the end of Muppet Guys Talking, Jerry Nelson does, I think, a really wonderful job of explaining why he thinks people relate to The Muppets.
Frank: He does an absolutely stunning, stunning job.
Jarrod: Is there anything you think you can add on top of what he said? Or do you think he said it perfectly?
Frank: I think he said it perfectly, and Franny jumped in. Just the idea that all these characters are different personalities, and different species, and they could be considered outcasts to a degree. And yet Kermit allowed everybody to be on board, it was an inclusive situation, where no matter how strange the person was, they were accepted. And that was really beautifully said by Jerry. I’ve gotten mail from people, one guy told me he’d been abused in his childhood, and the only thing that made him feel good was watching The Muppets. So there’s some sort of connection there, it seems.
Jarrod: I have to imagine hearing that is quite heartwarming.
Frank: Oh my god, it’s hard to even grasp. We just do what we do, and the fact that we have that ability to touch people with these characters, it’s too difficult to grasp, you know? It’s wonderful, but it’s hard to understand.
Jarrod: Do you think the idea of these guys being outcasts might have come from a feeling of you guys feeling like outcasts? Especially then you began, because you were the only people at the time doing what you were doing.
Frank: I don’t know. I mean, I was never an outcast, I was a pretty straight kid. I was a people pleaser when I was younger, so I’ve never felt like an outcast. Maybe others did. But when I say ‘outcasts’, I don’t mean like nobody wanted you. I mean, if you look at the characters; Animal would not fit in society, no?
Frank: Piggy would not necessarily fit in society properly. Fozzie wouldn’t, because he’s so insecure and so needy. And you could go on and on and no. So they’re not ‘outcasts’, I think they’re just not what’s considered ‘the norm’.
Jarrod: You’ve directed tonnes of stuff. You’ve directed some of my favorite movies. I’ve rarely laughed in a film harder than the scene in Bowfinger where Eddie Murphy has to run across the highway.
Frank: (laughs) Yeah, that was great.
Jarrod: Do you have a preference? Directing, or writing, or performing?
Frank: Directing. I love directing. No question about it.
Jarrod: Why directing above the others?
Frank: I like bringing the best out of people. I like bringing the best out of a script. I like bringing the best out of a scene. I like bringing a scene to life, or a person’s performance to life, or a moment to life, or an entire movie to life. That’s what I love.
Jarrod: And how often while you’re directing are you thinking ‘Okay, how would Jim do this?’
Frank: Never, no. I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t do that. I did in the beginning with The Muppets Take Manhattan, though Jim was alive then, because it was my first movie and I was nervous, and I should have acted more like Jim. After that I started doing my own movies and I felt more comfortable.
Jarrod: Do you have a favorite production you’ve done, Muppet or otherwise?
Frank: I love Death at a Funeral.
Jarrod: Great movie!
Frank: Thank you! I had a great time doing that. I loved doing Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels. Little Shop of Horrors was a huge challenge, but very satisfying. The Score was great fun because I was doing a noir, which I don’t usually do, and I wanted to do that. So it’s hard to say. The films I had the most fun doing were Death at a Funeral and Dirty, Rotten..
Jarrod Fairclough – At 9:30am on Saturday March 3rd, my phone rang from a Private Number. Generally I’d let it go to voicemail, but this was one phone call I’d been waiting for for three weeks. With my phone perched on top of a Funko Pop of Goofy, signed by his voice actor Bill Farmer, and a microphone that plugged in to my computer pointed halfway between the phone’s speaker and my own mouth, I pressed Answer and said ‘Hello, Jarrod speaking’. From the other end came a voice I’ve heard thousands of times over the past 28 years. ‘Hello, Jarrod!’ it said, cheerfully, and at once all my nerves piled on top of each other, almost rendering me speechless. But I fought through it, because there was no way in hell I was going to waste his time. After all, I only had him for 15 minutes. Or so I thought.
Below you’ll find Part 1 of my transcribed conversation with Frank Oz, original Muppet performer, director, writer and best friend to Jim Henson. After 3 years of trying to find some way to possibly interview him, I’d finally caught my white whale, and it was everything I wanted it to be…
Jarrod: I’ve seen Muppet Guys Talking, and it’s incredible.
Frank: Aw, thanks.
Jarrod: Whether I’m right or wrong about this, it always seemed, at least to me, that you were quite a little bit shy to talk about your time with The Muppets, especially over the past 15 years or so. What was it that made you decide to revisit that era of your life, in such a public way with Muppet Guys Talking?
Frank: It was actually my wife (producer Victoria Labalme), she kept seeing me and Davey and Billy and everybody together and also work together, and she saw kind of a work culture that she hadn’t experienced before. She saw people who were supportive of each other, who were egging each other on, who love each other, try to screw each other over, there’s no tension. No politics, nothing. Just trying to do the very best job possible. And she works at a lot of companies around the country and the world, so she felt this kind of culture, this kind of way to work, that Jim installed in all of us, was really worth while to show the world. That’s the main reason. Besides the fact that I wanted to give the other guys their dues, because people know Jim, of course, some people know me, but these other guys aren’t as known, and I want them to be known also.
Jarrod: Absolutely. It’s that comraderie that you talk about, I went and visited the set of the ABC series a couple of years ago, it was amazing to see the support that these guys gave each other.
Frank: Yeah, that’s really how we work, that’s not phony. And so that’s the kind of thing that we wanna, especially in our country today, which is unfortunately lead with tension and division and everything else, we felt that that kind of inclusivity and collaboration and everything, this was a good time to show it, along with having a lot of fun.
Jarrod: Do you remember the last time you performed Fozzie or Piggy?
Frank: (thinking) Boy, uh, it’s been quite a while.
Jarrod: Did you know it would be the last time at that point?
Frank: No, that’s one thing I didn’t know. It was, uh…
Jarrod: I remember reading on Muppet Wiki it was around 2002 or so.
Frank: You think so? I don’t even recall.
Jarrod: Do you have any desire to return in any capacity? If not a performer, then a writer or director?
Frank: Oh absolutely! Absolutely, I’ve been wanting to for a long time. As far a performer goes, the only reason I stopped was, at the time, I was doing movies. And I was the father of four kids, but I was doing movies. I knew if I was gone to France or to Boston or to England or wherever to shoot a movie, I couldn’t say to Sesame Street, ‘Guys, you can’t use my characters for a whole year, I’m sorry’. I felt like I couldn’t do that. So I had to relinquish it, and became a full time director. So that’s the main reason I stopped. But, at the same time, Sesame Street used to invite me to come a few days a year, and that was fun! But they stopped inviting me, they never call anymore. And Disney has yet to call me, and ask me, so that’s why I don’t perform, because nobody asks me to.
Jarrod: So, if they were to call, you’d go back?
Frank: Yeah, depending. I mean, the problem is they don’t ask me, in part, because I’m expensive. I helped create the characters, and I think they can pay other people less because they’re just redoing my characters. I think it’s only fair to pay me a bit more money (laughs).
Jarrod: (laughing) That’s fair enough too!
Frank: So that’s another reason, and also because I have my own particular view points on what to do, but that’s not the main thing. The other thing is I wrote a movie with Jim Lewis, years ago. It was a Muppet movie I had an idea for when Jim and Jerry (Juhl) were alive. Jerry wrote it, and I rewrote it-
Jarrod: Is this ‘The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made’?
Frank: Yes! But Disney decided to go with Jason Segal and it’s never returned again. It’s not for lack of me doing it, it’s also maybe just people not asking me. And also, I must say, if people hire me to do things – I can’t be controlled, I believe I know what I’m doing, you know?
Jarrod: Of course.
Frank: But I’d love to work with the guys again. Oh god, I love those guys.
Jarrod: Well, speaking of control, you directed and co-wrote The Muppets Take Manhattan. Is there a key to writing for these characters as opposed to only performing them in a production?
Frank: I think the key for a performer and a writer and a director is that these characters are pure. There’s a great purity in these characters, and that’s in part, sadly, what Disney doesn’t understand. As much as they love The Muppets and as much as they want The Muppets to be a success, I don’t think they understand that The Muppets come from purity, and they come from the performers underneath who’ve known each other for 30 years. That’s the heart of writing for The Muppets.
Jarrod: That’s such a great answer, and I think that’s why it’s important that Disney keep people like you around, someone like Kirk Thatcher, who have such an understanding of these characters after so many years.
Frank: I love Kirk, he’s terrific. You know, the usual thing in any industry and any business is when somebody takes over, they feel – rightly or wrongly – that they know what they’re doing, and they don’t need the people who started it in the first place. And, sometimes, that may be right. Maybe those people had an older vision and the newer people have a newer vision, but it’s not always right. Sometimes the newer vision is more superficial than the older vision. So it’s hot and cold, it sometimes works and it sometimes doesn’t.
Jarrod: If we can talk a little about Jim, do you remember the first time you met him?
Frank: Yes! Oh, sure! I remember the first time I saw him, not just met him! I was 17 years old, and we were at this conference in northen California, and I saw him in the distance on the conference grounds. He was a skinny guy with his wife, she was pushing a carriage, Lisa, who was about a year old at the time, they were pushing her, and Jim did not have a beard. So that’s the first time I saw him. When I actually met him was after I’d done a performance at that conference, he came afterwards and talked to me, said how good it was, and that was the first time we ever met.
Jarrod: Did you have any inkling then of the relationship that would form, of the dynamic that would slowly build?
Frank: None whatsoever. I was still a high school student, still thinking about, trying to get grades and play sports and get girls! I wasn’t thinking about Jim at all! (laughs)
Jarrod: Hey, I get it, I’m 28 and I’m still trying!
Frank: (laughs) No, I had no idea, no.
Jarrod: You’ve been really clear over the past 28 years since Jim passed that you carry the lessons he taught you every day. Is there one bit of wisdom in particular that stands out?
Frank: Oh, wow! Um… There’s so much. Certainly the idea of working extremely hard, having fun while you work extremely hard, to be inclusive. I think the main thing is just to, uh… I think collaboration. Collaboration is one of the key things.
Jarrod: Right, and I think that goes back to the whole point of Muppet Guys Talking, which shows just how much collaboration and those sorts of relationships can create such amazing work, when you really believe that that’s the core focus of your work.
Frank: Well, we were collaborative, Jim always wanted to hear everybodies opinion, but that doesn’t mean he agreed with us. However, he always wanted opinions, and he always respected and listened to opinions, as opposed to people who say ‘Tell me your opinion” and then don’t listen to you. He actually listened, and he actually, when he felt it was right, used it. He really valued us.
Jarrod: In Muppet Guys Talking you ask a question to the guys, but you don’t answer it yourself, so I’m wondering if I can ask you.
Frank: That’s not fair! I’m only allowed to ask questions! But okay.
Jarrod: How do you get to abandoned lunacy when performing these characters?
Frank: I think it’s from Jim – actually maybe collaboration isn’t the important thing. As Franny (Fran Brill) says, it’s feeling safe to express yourself any way you want. It’s that safety. I think that’s the answer for the lunacy also, because in order to be free, you have to be so free that you can make mistakes, and be silly, and it’s okay if you do something wrong, because no-ones going to yell at you. Of course, when we say silly and have fun, we always mean in a disciplined way, with structure, knowing we have a job to do, and we have to do it economically. But within that, we have to have safety in order to be able to let ourselves go.
Jarrod: It was 6 years between shooting Muppet Guys Talking and actually releasing it. Was there a reason for the delay?
Frank: Well, part of the reason was that we didn’t know what to do with it in the beginning. It was really just an internal document for me, and Victoria realized it was more than that. I just saw it as an internal document. We didn’t know what to do with it. We just wanted to get it the people on film, and gradually we started editing it. The main reason is because people worked for free, like my editor worked for free, the camera operators, they’re all friends, they worked for free. But because of that, there was no deadline, it was not a business thing, so when you don’t have a deadline, things can go on forever. I need a deadline. The other thing was our editor was an assistant editor on some very big Hollywood films in New York, so we only had her on weekends, or one day a week or something, that took a long time also. So the combination between that plus the fact that every documentarian I’ve spoken to, have a very long post production period where they’re trying to find the story, so it’s a combination of those things.
Jarrod: Do you know how many hours of footage you have from that day?
Frank: Yeah, about 9 or 10 hours.
Jarrod: Is there ever a chance we’ll see more from it?
Frank: Yeah, there’s bonus footage that we’re going to put together, and show more things that were said about Jim, about the culture, about the dangerous things we’ve done, yeah. There’ll be a lot more that I couldn’t fit in, and it’ll find it’s way online, because we want to share it with people.
Jarrod: Do you have any other documentaries you’d like to make?
Frank: No, not anymore. This was very difficult, ya know? I’m used to shooting movies, large movies, expensive movies. And that’s fine, that doesn’t scare me at all, because I have a script, and then I prepare the production, then I shoot the production, and I edit the movie to the script. But, with documentaries, you shoot first, then afterwards you have to create a story. So that was the hardest part of all, finding the story in what you shot. So it’s something I don’t want to do again, unless there’s something that really appeals to me, but I don’t know that I’d do it again. It’s harder than I thought.
Jarrod: Well, having seen the film, I think you did a fantastic job finding a cohesive and coherant story in that 65 minutes. Everything flows perfectly through the whole thing.
Frank: Well thank you. We spent a long time editing, I get very obsessed with editing, so that’s where it comes together or doesn’t.
Jarrod: Well, we’ll change gears and go in to some lighter, more fun questions. When’s the most fun you’ve had performing?
Frank: Oh, wow. I’ve had so much fun performing. Uh… Honestly, it’s not really- It’s kind of performing, but not really performing. The most fun we had, including me, Dave Goelz, Billy, Richard Hunt, etc – Oh, and Jim Henson – The most fun we always have is recording the music. Certainly when we performed the characters we had fun, but we’re so much looser because we don’t have to think about so many things like when you’re doing a..
Jarrod Fairclough – With only 3 more sleeps until Muppet Guys Talking is released, things are getting exciting in the Muppet fandom world! Yesterday we reviewed the film with no spoilers, and tomorrow and Thursday we’ll be releasing our special 2 part interview with legendary Muppet performer Frank Oz! But today, we want to ramp up the excitement, and we’re doing that with a bunch of clips. The publicity team working on Muppet Guys Talking have done such a wonderful job with behind the scenes videos and previews, so we’ll compiled a whole stack of them here in one place for your viewing pleasure.
Jarrod Fairclough – Before I start this spoiler free review, I’m going to drop a spoiler. Don’t worry, I won’t reveal who shot Mr Burns or anything (it was Maggie), but there’s one thing I have to spoil before I can even think to review the rest of it free from any specific information. So, you’ve been warned;
Spoiler Alert – Muppet Guys Talking is fantastic.
When Frank Oz announced he had shot a documentary with Dave Goelz, Fran Brill, Bill Barretta and the late Jerry Nelson about creating the various Muppet characters, we were all shocked. It seemed for a long time that Frank had sought to distance himself from his years with the franchise, and so the idea that he would revisit it in such a public way was a huge surprise to us. But watching this documentary, it’s easy to see why this entire thing exists in the first place – these guys love each other, and love what they do.
Although the documentary only runs for 65 minutes, by the end of the film we’ve learnt a hell of a lot. We’ve learnt what flaws drive Dave Goelz’s characters. We’ve learnt where Mr Johnson came from inside Jerry Nelson. We’ve learnt the origins of Howard Tubman from Bill Barretta. We’ve learnt how Fran Brill maintained her femininity despite being seen as ‘one of the guys’. We’ve learnt just how Frank sees Fozzie’s place within The Muppets. And we’ve learnt that all of them, every single one, loves and idolizes still, Jim Henson.
That’s one thing that both did and did not surprise me while watching Muppet Guys Talking, and that’s how much they all still think of Jim as the boss. Though he left us in May of 1990, it’s plain to see just the impact this man had on those around him, even Bill, who tells a story about the one time he did meet the man he would later take over from. On more than one occassion, Frank, whether intentionally or not, talks about Jim in the present tense, and I think it’s because, as evident throughout the documentary, Jim is still such a presence in their lives. There’s some great stories about Jim shared, and at one point or another, 4 of the 5 do their best Jim impression when quoting a little bit of wisdom or a one liner Jim dropped on them at some stage. It feels like Jim is in the room with them, laughing along, and it only makes the production better.
There’s also a hell of a comraderie between these 5 that only comes from years of working so closely with each other, or as Frank calls it, ‘nose and armpit close’. During a quick coffee break in filming, that playfulness doesn’t go away, but there’s also a few ‘off camera’ (but still filmed) moments of real love and affection, which I’ll go in to more in my spoiler filled review on Friday. These guys can laugh and riff with each other in ways that many ensembles just cannot. They tease each other, and they support each other, often in the same breath. At one point during my note taking, I wrote in huge capital letters, then underlined, “SO DAMN FUN AND PLAYFUL!”. That’s what this documentary is. It’s fun and playful. Even when talking about those who are no longer with us, it never gets morose or sad. It also isn’t afraid to get a little off track, whether its everyone chanting at Frank or someone forgetting where they were going with their point. You would think that having such a short running time these moments would be unnecessary, but, as you’ll see, they only add to that fun playfulness.
There’s some great, simple, visual work through the film, which upon first glance seems almost like it was a place holder, but actually allows the stories going on around it to be the main feature. Frank and producer Victoria Labalme have stylized the film so that it’s easy to watch, which is expotentially valuable to the goings on around it. There’s very little new behind the scenes footage, and if you’re as big a fan as I, you’ll likely have seen most of it in different places. But, in the small places its used, it’s there to enhance whatever story is being told, which are often hilarious. I genuinely cannot tell you how many times I laughed during Muppet Guys Talking, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to continue this review without just saying everything.
And so I’ll stop it there. All I can say is that on Friday you’re all in for a real treat. Frank, Fran, Dave, Bill and the late great Jerry Nelson have made something very special for us, and we couldn’t be more grateful. Make sure you come back as we celebrate everything Muppet Guys Talking this week, including an interview with the man himself, Frank Oz.
Kieran Moore – There have been times over the last 60+ years when things didn’t always seem rosy for the Muppets and/or Henson Company. Since the dawning of the internet, many hours and countless megabytes have been devoted to discussing whether Kermit was about to croak. This last decade, however, has thankfully been much more reassuring and by 2013 the Muppets were slap bang in what could be described as a fourth(?) “golden era”.
That’s not to say the muppets were unequivocally Midas-flippered at this time, but they were in the eye of a wonderful storm of creativity and success. The Sesame Street and Muppet franchises were producing some of their best work and 2013 was really all about keeping that momentum going.
Sesame Street: Me Want It (But Me Wait) - YouTube
10 – Me Want It (But Me Wait) – Sesame Street Following on from the huge success of Share it Maybe, this song sees Cookie Monster covering another modern pop hit to extol the virtues of controlled cookie consumption. Unfortunately for this track, the source material -I Love It by Icona Pop – just isn’t as good as Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe and this comes off a bit like one of those 90’s dances remixes they did of kids’ songs back in the day. You know the kind of thing – I still have my copy of Disney’s “Mouse House” somewhere! That said, the lyrics are clever and David Rudman is every bit as good as he always is. This might not be Cookie Monster’s best moment of recent years, but it’s still a very solid way to start this chart.
Sesame Street: Sing the Alphabet Song! - YouTube
9 – The Sesame Street Alphabet – Sesame Street We’re sticking with Sesame Street for this fun alphabet song. (Today’s chart has an even-ish split between the main franchises, which is nice.) I don’t think I’m being too outrageous by saying that over the years Sesame Street has featured lots of songs that recount the alphabet, but this is definitely up there with the best of them for its fun rhymes, simple visuals and nifty bounce-along tune. The other reason I love it is that it’s a real group performance – in fact, there are so many favorite Sesame Street characters here I like to play “Spot the Character Who Doesn’t Appear”. So far I’m up to two regulars – Mr Snuffleupagus and Count Von Count. Can you spot any others?
Dream House (feat The Muppets) - Good Luck Charlie [HD] - YouTube
8 – Dream House – Good Luck Charlie I flop back and forth on this a bit – not because of the song or performances, which I really enjoy, but because it causes a bit of a Muppet dilemma for me. In my mind at least, the Muppets are in this show in order to promote the franchise to the Disney Channel crowd – which is exactly what Studio DC was doing and I can’t work out which method I prefer. In this clip they are at least part of the story of the episode, but they are most definitely shoehorned in and not really required. In Studio DC they are the story and once again doing what they’re best known for by hosting a variety show. It seems to me that Studio DC is actually the most Muppety of the two and yet it gets trashed online while this gets a free pass. I’m going to go out on a limb and say the dates in which these two shows aired is a big part of why one is shunned and the other isn’t.
Sesame Street: The Waiting Game with Guy Smiley! - YouTube
7 – Good Things Come to Those Who Wait – Sesame Street Part song, part sketch – all fun! I think we can see in today’s chart that the concept of waiting was a large part of the curriculum of Sesame Street in season 44, as both this number and the song in 10th place feature Cookie Monster practising the art of self-control. I guess it can be argued that this song should appear before the other one chronologically (I’m not sure if this is the case in terms of airdates), as Cookie Monster seems to have things a bit more under control by the time he sings Me Want It (But Me Wait). It’s good to see after finally putting the “Veggie Monster” debacle to bed that Cookie Monster is reinforcing the message by coveting a cookie! Guy Smiley and his singers are played by Eric Jacobson, Stephanie D’Abruzzo and John Tartaglia and all three are showing just why they are modern Muppet legends.
Sesame Street: Counting the "You"s in YouTube - YouTube
6 – Counting the “You’s” in YouTube – Sesame Street Viral Video I clearly remember the sensation that hit the Muppet community when this “Top Secret” video dropped. Of course it was wonderful that our favorite educational show’s YouTube channel had become the first non-profit organisation to reach 1 billion views, but the ripple of excitement that the new video featured Count Von Count was something special. It had only been a very short time since Jerry Nelson’s final vocal performances on Sesame Street had aired so I think it’s fair to say it was too soon to properly be missing The Count, but we were all curious to see what would happen to the character after his originator’s death. This old-school, eastern European style number told us we had nothing to worry about. King of the recasts, Matt Vogel took over vocally as The Count from this point on and neither has looked back since. This is a big moment for many reasons in Sesame Street’s history.
Sesame Street: Usher's ABC Song - YouTube
5 – The ABCs of Moving You – Sesame Street I really like the simple clapping accompaniment that goes with this song. I’m not sure if the track is fully a cappella or not, but it very easily could be and as an unaccompanied singer myself I really appreciate that element. It sounds fresh and interesting, but also lets Usher’s vocals stand out – and when they’re as good as his are, you really do want them too. In a chart full of doubles this is another simple alphabet song from Sesame Street, but again it’s one of their best. You don’t need to take my word for it this time either as this track as nominated for a Daytime Emmy (as was “Rhymes with Mando” that didn’t make the cut). This song cleverly combines learning your ABCs with a message to get up and be active so might just be one of the most educational pieces Sesame Street has ever done.
Lady Gaga - Gypsy (Live at "Lady Gaga & the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular" - YouTube
4 – Gypsy – Lady Gaga and the Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular I guess there’s been a Lady Gaga shaped hole in my chart so far today and now is the time to address it. There were lots of things wrong with this holiday special, but there were also plenty of things that were right. First, we got Muppets in primetime in their natural habitat – a holiday special (not a Studebaker). That can’t be ignored. Secondly, Lady Gaga is a huge star who likes the Muppets and, despite this show’s best efforts, does work well with our felt friends. When it’s not getting too bogged down in weirdness ( a strange criticism for a Muppet production), there’s a lot of fun stuff going on and several of the musical performances are memorable, including the Gaga/Elton John duet and Piggy’s rendition of Santa Baby. You could say Gypsy is a microcosm of the whole thing. There’s some clunky dialogue (that I hope was adlibbed otherwise a scriptwriter deserves to lose his licence), but Kermit and Lady Gaga work well together when singing and the song is pretty good. Sadly Kermit is suffering from “Muppet Beach Party Syndrome” where he seems incapable of letting a line go by without chipping in with a useless comment, but at the same time this really is not just the standout moment of the special, but a pretty special standout Muppet moment in its own right.
Steve Martin and Kermit the Frog in "Dueling Banjos" - YouTube
3 – Dueling Banjos – Funny or Die Online Video The Steve Martin episode of The Muppet Show is quite rightly a classic that just about everyone knows, but I’d wager most people think of his balloon animal act before they remember that he played Dueling Banjos with Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers as the show’s closing number. Several decades later, he joined up with the Muppets once again to perform this well-known piece of music. This time, instead of performing it as a group number, the song really is a battle to the musical death – albeit a good-natured one! Steve and Kermit work brilliantly together and their rivalry is played to perfection, making me smile and laugh throughout. Kermit’s snarky remarks are perfectly in character and hilarious – I love that he’s picking up Steve on his playing! He needn’t bother though, the music is wonderful. I love the light, metallic sound of Kermit’s banjo in particular. Finally, this video is beautifully shot and feels like a love letter to Kermit, Steve, music, swamps, Muppets, banjos…
Sesame Street: Dave Matthews and Grover Sing about Feelings - YouTube
2 – I Need a Word – Sesame Street There’s probably not much new stuff I can say about this song, as it has appeared several times on my lists and was even placed at number 18 in last year’s 100th chart celebration piece. Once again in another double, this song is the second to prominently feature a banjo today. I know banjos can be a bit love them or hate them for some, but I think it’s impossible to be a Muppet fan and not enjoy their clang-a-lang-a-lang tones. It’s a harsh sound, but in the hands of a skilled performer like Kermit or Dave Matthews (as in this clip) it can bring about wonderfully soft, sweet emotions. The idea of a glum Grover is heartbreaking, but for me where this song really shines isn’t just that we see a downhearted Muppet, but that they get this emotion so right. I’ve felt exactly the same way before. They’re not describing a broad brush feeling – Grover isn’t just sad, he’s going through a range of emotions that are tying him in knots. Teaching children (and adults) that feelings are complex and that that’s ok is such an important lesson.
Jimmy Fallon, Sesame Street & The Roots Sing "Sesame Street" Theme (w/ Classroom Instruments) - YouTube
1 – Sesame Street Theme – The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon To my eternal shame, the Sesame Street Theme has never topped one of my charts even though its Muppet Show and Fraggle Rock counterparts have. I’m happy to be fixing this now. This version, from Jimmy Fallon’s late night talk show, features a large group of Sesame Street Muppets. However, unlike previous group numbers on this list, both Snuffy and The Count are present and correct this time. Jimmy Fallon has been a friend of the Muppets for many years and the guys and gals from both of the main franchises appeared regularly on his show. At the same time, Jimmy and his house band The Roots often played well-known songs on classroom instruments as part of the show so it was only a matter of time before the two collided and we got this strange, yet strangely musical, interpretation of the Sesame Street theme. The inclusion of a rap break fleshes this version out and adds a fun twist. The best thing about this video though is just how fun it is. It’s a celebration of everything that is so beloved about Sesame Street, and that’s a joy to behold.
One of the things that really strikes me about today’s chart, is how many different productions the songs come from. There’s a large Sesame Street presence of course, but away from that we also have viral videos, guest spots, holiday specials, talk show appearances – apart from the viral videos it could be the 1980s all over again. So I have to say thank you to everyone who contributed to the world of the Muppets in 2013 – you’re creativity continues to be inspiring. Thank You.
Join me next time as Sesame Street takes Salt Lake City, the Muppets take Europe and The Furchester Hotel takes reservations…
Jarrod Fairclough – Muppet Babies is just a couple of weeks away, and we’re all ready to see the exploits of Baby Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal and Summer, as well as a few of their friends. Just last week we saw some preview videos called ‘Muppet Babies Show & Tell’, and now we’ve got way more! Enjoy as Gonzo shows off his daring side, Piggy shows off her flair for the dramatic, and Summer shows off her artistic talents!
Gonzo's Show and Tell | Muppet Babies | Disney Junior - YouTube
Fozzie's Show and Tell | Muppet Babies | Disney Junior - YouTube
Piggy and Gonzo's Show and Tell | Muppet Babies | Disney Junior - YouTube
Summer's Show and Tell | Muppet Babies | Disney Junior - YouTube
Animal's Show and Tell | Muppet Babies | Disney Junior - YouTube
Kermit and Piggy's Show and Tell | Muppet Babies | Disney Junior - YouTube
Kieran Moore – Here in my native UK, the first half of 2012 was taken up by people gloomily saying “We’re hosting the Olympics – it’s going to be busy and expensive. This summer will be a disaster.” The second half of the year was filled with the same people cheering “Hooray! We hosted the Olympics! It was incredible and put Britain on the map. What an amazing summer!” For me personally, the whole of 2012 was worth getting excited for because The Muppets (2011, ironically) and its DVD/Blu-Ray release both debuted in the first part of that year. That meant lots of Muppet moments to enjoy, including some really fun personal appearances. With their trajectory most definitely in the ascendancy, the Muppets were everywhere – from live musical performances and guest spots on other artists’ albums to countless chat show gigs. It was like the 1980’s all over again!
To continue that 80’s vibe we also saw Fraggles again in several places. And, after being shut out by Kermit and Piggy in 2011, the Sesame Street gang were back with a vengeance in 2012 – in fact there’s so much great stuff from them in particular I’ve been struggling to fit it all in…
Sesame Street: Common and Colbie Caillat - "Belly Breathe" with Elmo - YouTube
10 – Belly Breathe – Sesame Street This was one of the toughest choices I’ve had to make for 11th spot for a really long time. In the one corner, I had this rap song about keeping calm. And in the other, just losing out on a judge’s decision, was “I am Special” – also from Sesame Street. It was a real tussle. “I am Special” is Frank freakin’ Oz performing as Grover which is always guaranteed to be, well… special. I love his performance in that clip. Ultimately though, I actually prefer this song musically and since it’s really the music I’m judging I had to let my own personal feelings for Frank and Grover take a back seat to this enjoyable number. There’s a nice swagger to this that I find irresistible. It’s well performed and seeing Elmo channel his inner Frazzle is brilliant fun!
Jim Henson's Musical World - Rainbow Connection - YouTube
9 – Rainbow Connection – Jim Henson’s Musical World Last week I mentioned that because of a general love of Muppet nostalgia in 2011 I had multiple versions of Rainbow Connection to choose from. In 2012 there was also more than one available, and both where live performances. This track is kind of representing both, but it’s mostly standing as a shining example of how great the Jim Henson’s Musical World Carnegie Hall event was. Sadly, this is today’s only song from that show. Not that the others aren’t good enough, it’s just that there aren’t any good clips online. At the show, there were medleys performed of Muppet, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and Emmet Otter songs; as well as appearances by John Tartaglia, Stephanie D’Abruzzo, Paul Williams, Rachel Dratch and the Sesame humans. It was an incredible event that I’m sure no one will forget. This song stands out to me for all the obvious reasons, but I really want to praise Steve Whitmire’s puppetry here – Kermit looks so natural and at ease. I wonder, will we ever see all these characters together again (again)?
Sesame Street: Share It Maybe - YouTube
8 – Share it Maybe – Sesame Street Online Video This song is a previous number one, but has tumbled here to 8th place. That’s a shame really as it’s a huge moment for Cookie Monster, with around 22 million views online. The love for this piece really is testament to Cookie Monster’s status as a pop culture icon. It’s also proof of how good David Rudman is. Because some of his recasts are relatively recent, I forget how long David has been performing with the Muppets. I constantly have to remind myself that he was around in the “Jim Henson era” – with performances in Labyrinth, Muppets Take Manhattan and The Tale of the Bunny Picnic on his résumé. I love David’s take on both Scooter and Janice, and as Baby Bear on Sesame Street he has been one of the show’s unsung heroes for years. This song is the perfect pop parody – the lyrics are fun and clever, the performances hit the right balance between sincere and comical, and it honors the source material. Wonderful.
Sesame Street: Train - "Five By" - YouTube
7 – Five By – Sesame Street You wait ages for a pop parody and then two come along at once! This one holds a special place in my heart though as it was likely Jerry Nelson’s final musical performance on Sesame Street. Although Jerry was suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease when this vocal was recorded, you wouldn’t know it. This whole piece plays like a love letter to The Count and, by extension, Jerry. The final “Ha, Ha, Ha” is just about the best tribute anyone could give. On August 23rd 2012, the world lost one of its brightest stars. It’s incredible to think of the characters Jerry brought to us – from guitarists Sgt. Floyd Pepper and Gobo Fraggle to the slightly sinister Blind Pew and Uncle Deadly. We will never see another Muppet performer like him and my yearly charts will be a little less bright from now on.
Sesame Street: Count Me In - YouTube
6 – Count Me In – Sesame Street Count Me In was originally added to the Sesame Street roster in 1997, but this version brought the piece bang up to date (for the time) with a more modern arrangement. The differences between the two are undoubtedly subtle, but this feels a bit punchier and uses the call and response chorus to full effect, ramping up the Gospel vibe. This is sung by Deon Mitchell who is a former member of the PS22 Chorus who had, just the year before, recorded a new version of Somebody Come and Play for the show. This fantastically talented group have also appeared live at a Sesame Street benefit gala. My school choir never did anything quite so exciting! I’ll admit I didn’t know this song until I heard it for this chart, but I was instantly struck by its sing-and-dance-along feel and uplifting message of acceptance and giving things a try. The lyrics to the chorus should be written on the inside of everyone’s front door so they’re seen each morning. What a world we’d live in then!
Sesame Street: Song - Cookie Monster sings "Me Am What Me Am" - YouTube
5 – Me Am What Me Am – Sesame Street Over the course of my yearly charts we’ve often touched on the controversy surrounding Cookie Monster and whether he was single-handedly making kids fat. And the subsequent furore over the fact that he occasionally went for an orange instead of an Oreo. I’m not sure if this song (and its street story about all that confusion) was deliberately written to try and put an end to the whole thing or simply to poke fun at it, but either way it’s tremendous. There can’t be many heartfelt, emotional ballads that name check okra and lima beans, but this does! Cookie (I feel like we should be on first name terms) is drawing a line in the sand here and saying quite literally “Me am what me am”. He’s daring the listener to leave their preconceived notions at the door, open their mind and learn something new. David Rudman does an amazing job of making Cookie Monster’s gruff voice sound sweet and soft while the final rousing lines are big and bold.
Ben Folds Five "DO IT ANYWAY" f. Fraggle Rock [Official Video] - YouTube
4 – Do it Anyway – Ben Folds Five Music Video Who’d have thought the fraggles would have made a comeback in 2012? I’m guessing the area around Doc’s old workshop has had some work done in the last 30 years – it didn’t seem like the sort of neighborhood that would have housed a recording studio! Although Fraggle Rock was musically diverse, seeing the fraggle five rock out like this makes me wish they’d done more with this musical genre as part of the show. Mind you, this song is bluesy enough that it does fit perfectly into the canon of the show. Whether paired with folk, rock n roll or Gospel, the fraggles often weaved the blues into their music. Seeing these puppets and Gobo and Wembley’s cave makes me wish they’d done a bit more with the Fraggles at this point. John Tartaglia was waiting in the wings as Gobo, and several (if not all) the other fraggle performers were available. Small, fun internet videos worked wonders for the Muppets and the same should have happened for the fraggles. I really feel it was a wasted opportunity.
CeeLo Green Feat. The Muppets - All I Need Is Love [Official Music Video] - YouTube
3 – All I Need is Love – Cee Lo’s Magic Moment This is another track that seemed to come out of nowhere. Of course I knew this song, but it wasn’t until the last few days that I’ve really been struck by just how good it is. It has an old-school Christmas vibe mixed with a dash of doo-wap and some modern RnB. Although I guess that definition does slightly ignore the elephant in the room that is Mahna Mahna. It works so well here it’s hard to imagine that refrain didn’t originate as part of this song. I defy anyone not to fall under its spell. This song and video is pure Christmas joy. It’s also incredibly Muppety – though that might be the same thing. Everything here works perfectly. Even Pepe being slightly leery feels just right. Make sure you stay tuned to the end of this video as Zoot’s final sax note provides a warm Christmas hug, Statler and Waldorf get a fun final joke and the credits offer some neat character moments.
The Muppets' Salute to Canada - YouTube
2 – Canada Is – The Muppets All Star Comedy Gala Presented from the Montreal Just for Laughs comedy festival, this song pays tribute to the Muppets’ host nation of Canada. As part of a comedy festival you might expect this song to be funny, but it’s actually downright hilarious. The “facts” about Canada including that it’s the capital of Narnia and America’s hat, are sublimely silly and marvellously Muppety. Pepe’s joke about how it doesn’t matter if the song is all wrong because the Canadians will still apologize plays brilliantly into that well known cultural stereotype. In fact you could say the whole premise of this – that Sam the Eagle got new facts about Canada from Americans, is looking at another stereotype and actually saying something quite daring about it. Have we slipped into satire? Of course it’s all sorted out by the final verse as Kermit reminds the Muppets just how amazing Canada really is. You can tell the Muppet performers have been working together a lot by this point as they are so tight and together. It’s a joy to behold!
Kermit and Miss Piggy (Muskrat Love) - YouTube
1 – Muskrat Love – The Muppets All Star Comedy Gala I wouldn’t usually include a video of this quality, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to include this song. It’s perfect for this couple – a sweet number full of whimsy and reflectiveness, but with enough edge to keep it interesting. Until the song is curtailed early, the real joke here is that Miss Piggy wants her chance to show Montreal (the home of Celine Dion) just what a diva she can be. That’s so Piggy it instantly grounds this in her character, making the pay off so much funnier as a result. Up until the point that Kermit mentions bacon (it was bound to happen in Canada) everything is going great, but Piggy’s reaction to the line and subsequent “Hi-Yaaa” is funny and natural. The reason this is the number one song is just how well it fits the characters of Kermit and Miss Piggy.
And that’s probably the overarching theme of the whole of 2012 – characters actually being themselves. Following on from the success of 2011, everything in 2012 felt like it was coming back together just how it should. Muppets are everywhere, Sesame Street is teaching important lessons, fraggles are having fun and Jim Henson is being remembered. It truly was a golden age! So I have to say a huge Thank You to everyone who was part of that extraordinary team in 2012. Thank You – your continued efforts filled the world with Muppety joy!
Join me in 2013 as Fraggle Rocks turns 30, Sesame Street turns 1 Billion and the Muppets turn a little Gaga…
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