Oct 21, 2009
Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Scooter
Richard Hunt (1976-1990)
Brian Henson (2002-2003)
Rickey Boyd (2005)
David Rudman (2008-present)
The Muppet Show Episode 101: Juliet Prowse (1976)
Most recent appearance...
The Muppets (2011)
Best known role...
Go-fer backstage at The Muppet Show; nephew of J.P. Grosse, owner of The Muppet Theater.
"Gee, I dunno if my uncle who owns the theater would like that..."
WHO IS SCOOTER?
Scooter was one of the core characters on The Muppet Show and beyond in the Muppet universe. Not only did he act as go-fer ("go-fer coffee, go-fer sandwiches") during the entire run of the show, but he also performed onstage for a few numbers of his own.
Scooter was hired by Kermit the Frog in episode 106 of The Muppet Show (Jim Nabors), in which he coerced the frog to hire him based entirely on his lineage--his uncle, J.P. Grosse owns the theater. Although Kermit was against the hiring at first, he soon grew to love and respect Scooter as a part of the family. The frog also grew to understand why he needs Scooter--the go-fer provided a much-needed amount of assistance to the frog in chief backstage, reining in some of the chaos and organizing the acts.
Though he served mostly for backstage plots, Scooter had an onstage persona as well. He performed such beloved numbers as "There's a New Sound" and "Six String Orchestra." He also performed with Floyd Pepper in "Mr. Bassman" and Fozzie Bear in "Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear." Bust Scooter's perhaps greatest song performance was his breathless spouting out of all of the guest stars on The Muppet Show to the tune of "I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General" in episode 412 (Phyllis George).
Throughout the run of the show, Scooter was involved in many backstage plots. Notable ones include trying to wrangle all of the people from all of the countries of the world in the Spike Milligan episode, trying to teach the Muppets to be superheroes in the Lynda Carter episode, selling tickets to meet Sylvester Stallone in the Sylvester Stallone episode, getting Kermit to sign a marriage license for Miss Piggy in the Marisa Berenson episode, and more.
Scooter's greatest contribution to the show, and what he's probably best known for outside of fan circles, is his guest star introductions at the start of every episode from the second to the fourth season. Before the theme song of every episode in those seasons, Scooter would pop his head through the door of the guest star's dressing room and say, "Mr./Mrs. So-and-So, fifteen seconds to curtain, Mr./Mrs. So-and-So!" This would lead into a cold opening with the guest stars and (usually) some other Muppets.
Scooter's loyalties and friendships seemed very wide-spread throughout all of the Muppets. He was always chummy with Fozzie, Gonzo, Robin, and Rowlf, appearing in many numbers and plots with them. In The Muppets at Walt Disney World, he was paired with Bean Bunny; a pairing that sadly never got to come to much fruition beyond the special. When it came to being loyal, however, Scooter went wherever he was threatened. Sometimes he would appear loyal to Kermit, only to turn around and get "persuaded" by Miss Piggy to help her sabotage the frog. Somehow, however, Kermit never really caught on to this fact.
In recent appearances, Scooter still seems to hold his role as go-fer/stage manager, along with being a well-organized persona Kermit can turn to for assistance.
SCOOTER AND RICHARD HUNT
Scooter was Richard Hunt's main character during his career. Richard was quoted as saying that he based Scooter's voice and mannerisms off of himself as a youth. It's no wonder that Richard was so closely bonded to Scooter. Richard performed Scooter in each and every major Muppet special throughout his career. It appeared that as Richard aged, so did Scooter. Richard joined the Muppets as a 19 year old kid, and Scooter mirrored that sort of age/naivete. By Muppet*Vision 3D, however, Scooter's voice and persona seemed to resemble an older, more mature character (not that Richard Hunt was ever mature).
Scooter appeared in every major Muppet project up until Richard Hunt's death in 1990. In The Muppet Movie, he acted as road manager for Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem. In The Great Muppet Caper, Scooter resided at the Happiness Hotel with the rest of the Muppets and was one of the main players in protecting the fabulous Baseball Diamond. Scooter was also part of the group that attended college in The Muppets Take Manhattan. When the gang disbanded, Scooter worked at a 3D movie theater with The Swedish Chef.
The go-fer also had roles in the Muppet specials at the time. He played various roles in the various film parodies in The Muppets Go to the Movies, single-handedly caused a break in the Muppet canon by finding a film reel of the Muppets as babies in A Muppet Family Christmas, and presented the guest stars montage during The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years. He also appeared in The Muppets Go Hollywood, A Christmas Together, Rocky Mountain Holiday, The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show, and The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson.
Scooter didn't even make a silent cameo in either The Muppet Christmas Carol or Muppet Treasure Island. This was probably done out of respect for Richard Hunt, who passed away in 1991. Scooter's first appearance after Richard's death came in 1999 with Muppets From Space. His one line in the movie was performed by Richard's brother, Adam.
Scooter began to return in more semi-prominent roles by the time of It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, where he was performed by Brian Henson. Here, Scooter returned to his role as go-fer in the theater and was the first to agree to differ his paycheck in support of Kermit. He also appeared as a cage dancer in the Kermit-less universe... but we won't talk about that. In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, Scooter received his largest role in almost 15 years. Performed by Rickey Boyd, Scooter played the Wizard's Assistant and escorted Dorothy and her cohorts into the Wizard's chamber.
Recently, Scooter has continued his return with roles in both Studio DC: Almost Live! Hosted by Selena Gomez and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa. In the former, Scooter acted as stage manager during Demi Lovato's duet with Kermit. After Kermit was indisposed and unable to perform the duet, Scooter pushed Beaker out onstage. In Letters to Santa, Scooter pitched an idea of creating a website so people could post their ideas about how to get the letters to Santa Claus. Animal soon smashed his laptop with a baseball bat, so this idea didn't really take off. In both of these appearances Scooter was performed by David Rudman, and it seems that he is Scooter's official performer from now on.
Scooter will appear in The Muppets in theaters in November 2011. In the film, Scooter has separated along with all of the other Muppets, only to be reunited by Kermit, Jason Segel, Amy Adams, and new Muppet, Walter. Scooter returns to the Muppet Theater to help put on The Muppet Telethon and save it from being torn down. This will be Scooter's largest role in a theatrical film since 1984.
WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED SCOOTER?
Scooter is a vital part of the Muppet formula. He represents the youthful side of the Muppets with his charm and attempts to hold everything together. He's one of the core characters and always has been, it's a shame that he's fallen to such obscurity these days. Scooter was always in full-force back in the heyday of the Muppets--it's difficult to name a high-end production that he didn't feature prominently in back in those days. Perhaps Scooter is what's been missing from Muppet productions? Maybe it's having him around that causes productions to receive more praise from the Muppet community? It's hard to say, but it's quite possible. Most projects that have included Scooter have been more widely enjoyed than those that haven't.
The Muppets need Scooter because he represents youthful exuberance and enthusiasm. He represents the spirit of Richard Hunt, who embodied the Muppet spirit more than most. Scooter keeps Richard's heart and spirit alive and adds that to the Muppets. The spirit of Richard Hunt could also be argued as what has been missing from the Muppets recently: That wacky, zany, practical joker attitude. Scooter may not fully represent these personality traits, but he sure as heck represents Richard.