Mar 17, 2010

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Beautiful Day Monster


Today's guest Weekly Muppet Wednesday article is written by Josh Hankemeier . Josh brings us an in-depth look at an often-seen but not very well-known Muppet Monster.

BEAUTIFUL DAY MONSTER


Performed by...
Various (1969-1990)

First appearance...
The Ed Sullivan Show "Happy Girl Meets Monster" Sketch (May 11, 1969)

Most recent appearance...
The Muppets (2011)

Memorable quote...
"Got anything cheaper?"

Best known role...
Monster with the ability to change the weather; frugal spender

WHO IS BEAUTIFUL DAY MONSTER?
This monster gets his name from his very first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1969.  The sketch features the monster trying to ruin a little girl's beautiful day.  He growls at the sky to start (and stop) the rain.  He even destroys a flower pot and the flower the girl is enjoying.

BEAUTIFUL DAY MONSTER MOMENTS
The monster got his comeuppance in his first appearance (with a flyswatter), but he came back to appear on several early Sesame Street clips.  Some of these sketches took place with either Ernie and Bert or during one of Kermit's lectures.  Some took place with a whole group of monsters, including "Fuzzyface", the moss green pre-Grover.  These spots gave us a look at Henson's monsters which were a mix of Sesame Street's classics (Cookie Monster), monsters from the Ed Sullivan guest spots (Baby Monster, Fuzzyface, Scudge) and others we never see anywhere (who IS that watermelon-shaped monster anyway?)

Although "Beautiful Day Monster" is the character's official name, he's gone by several names in different sketches.  These names include Ralph, Harold, Snooky and Fred.  In his short career on Sesame Street, Beautiful Day appears in memorable sketches.  Infamously memorable, that is.

With the exception of Big V, Beautiful Day was probably the scariest monster ever to appear on Sesame Street.  Whenever he appeared, he succeeded in freaking out either another Muppet or the kids at home.

When Muppet fans reminicse about Sesame Street clips that scared them as children, several moments come to mind.  For those who remember Sesame Street in its early years, Beautiful Day could give the Ernie sarcophagus or the "I" in the steel mill a run for their money.

There was even a sketch where two versions of Beautiful Day appeared, going by the names "Harold" and "Frank".  This clip is memorable not just for the scary factor (check out Beautiful Day's eyes!) Splurge makes a cameo (and his only Sesame Street appearance) in this clip.

This Kermit lecture features Beautiful Day at the end.  Fans remember the sketch not so much for Beautiful Day, but for one of two proven times that beer was mentioned on Sesame Street.

Beautiful Day sometimes appeared as a "third banana" in Ernie and Bert's early sketches.  Sometimes he would steal cake or try to con Ernie out of his cookies (inspiring Cookie Monster to do this a short time later).  Sometimes, he would simply try to perform a trick for a treat.

In this sketch, Beautiful Day is referred to as "Snooky", and Ernie claims to be his master.

Aside from crashing through doors and eating cookies, Beautiful Day sprouted an extra set of eyes to teach about the number 4.  Bert (as well as young viewers) were shocked to discover something actually DID have four eyes.

Beautiful Day was also present on Guy Smiley's game shows.  "The Mr. and Mrs. Game" is an important piece of Sesame Street history, since it sparked Cookie Monster's obsession.  (Perhaps Cookie was watching this game show at home?) Beautiful Day even admits that his favorite sport is "scaring people", terrifying Guy and smashing part of the set in the process.

This lesser known clip, "Pick Your Pet" is a rare instance where Beautiful Day doesn't frighten anyone or cause trouble.  He also doesn't mind being someone's pet.

If Sesame Street came out with a DVD of "Scariest Sesame Street Moments Ever", this clip would definitely make the cut.  Honestly, I don't know this one made it past Sesame Street's test audiences.  I'm sure that in 1970, many a diaper was drenched at the sight...or rather the sound of "B".

Thanks to Noggin, Muppet Wiki and YouTube, fans can relive these long-forgotten moments.  One of these moments is Beautiful Day's unique (or "strange" to put it more accurately) rendition of "Lulu's Back in Town".  Maybe someday Sesame Workshop will put the companion clip "Windy" in their online video collection.

Until recent years, fans knew Beautiful Day Monster through one memorable sketch.  They didn't know the monster's name, but they knew he was short on cash.  Scatting and be-bopping his way into a travel agency, this monster planned to go to Pittsburgh.  Paul Williams gave the monster different options to get there.  Each price caused the monster to reply "You got anything cheaper?"  Even a $75 trip on a broken down old bus was too expensive. With the help of Paul Williams, an offscreen worker named "Charlie" and (presumably) a large Jiffy Bag, the monster made it there.

Aside from this, Beautiful Day was used mostly as a background monster, appearing in a musical number or preventing Gonzo from from blowing his trumpet. He will reappear in The Muppets in November 2011, but the chances are slim you'd see him pop up in Elmo's World anytime soon.

WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED BEAUTIFUL DAY MONSTER?

I'm not sure why the Muppets themselves need Beautiful Day Monster...but he sure sparks a lot of discussions between Muppet fans.  When scary Sesame Street sketches are discussed, he pops up in the conversation.  He also has other unique characteristics often overlooked except for the most astute Muppet fans.  Check it out:

Years before Travelocity was a gleam in a garden gnome's eye, Beautiful Day searched for the most economical way to travel.  Today, without knowing it, many shoppers (especially now during the recession) are copying Beautiful Day's method of bargain hunting.  Wal-Mart, McDonald's, Expedia, you name it--shoppers everywhere are all thinking the same thing:  "You got anything cheaper?"

Beautiful Day also stands out from other monsters because of his unique design:  the Frankenstein-like head, the prickly unibrow and the flat, beaklike nose are all traits most monsters lack.  Fans also can see this monster on the cover of the coveted, high quality book "Of Muppets and Men" by Christopher Finch.

Another point of interest about the character is the ownership.  Most fans know that Kermit and Rowlf were the only Muppets to appear on Sesame Street (Rowlf only appeared in "Baker #9", but it counts).  However, Beautiful Day was seen on the Muppet Show several times and yet he was considered a Sesame Street regular from 1969-1970.  He could be considered the third regular "crossover character" between both shows.

So...who owns him?  Sesame Workshop or the Walt Disney Company?  If another company picks up where Palisades left off, who would they need permission to make an action figure?  Apparently, the monster's got a fan base.  Even the top dog at Muppet Central would like to have an action figure of him.

So there you have it.  Beautiful Day has had an interesting career over the years.  He's terrified children by teaching them about the letter "B" and the number "4".  He's dressed in drag twice to perform completelely uneducational musical numbers on Sesame Street.  He has the power to control the rain (see his first sketch), he had a brief job at the hospital where Heathcliff Huxtable worked, he knows how to scat in a travel agency, and is probably one of the most persistent bargain-hunting Muppets around.  Oh, and he's also the only Muppet to have hit Sam the Eagle in the face with a pie.

We haven't seen Beautiful Day Monster recently.  Where did he disappear to?  My guess is Pittsburgh...the cheapest way possible.  I'm sure he got a flat rate when he traveled. (rimshot).







The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

3 comments:

  1. I had no idea that B-Day Monster was a Sesame Street regular...in fact, I thought he was a solid Muppet Show character!

    Just goes to show, I don't know everything!

    This comment brought to you by the confirmation word: caucti, a painful plaunt to sit upon.

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  2. Fantastic! Thank you Josh for all this GREAT information about Beautiful Day. I had often wondered his name and background info, and you have answered many questions.
    I remember watching him as "Windy" when I was a boy and it's stuck with me for years.

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  3. I suppose he was(if you'd him seen on both shows)supposed to be a different character. The amount of difference is big, since when he was on sesame street he had four fangs, and he looked like he had a different shade of blue fur
    , and the eye-lashes he has only appeared towards the end of sesame street(not the end of it all, but the end of season 1, and a little bit into season 2(show-backs only)).

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