-A Brief Thought-Justin H. Piatt - As I was browsing through the bright, colorful pages of one of the most wonderful books ever printed in celebration of Sesame Street’s 40th Anniversary (for those of you wondering, the book is Sesame Street: A Celebration – 40 Years of Life on the Street), I happened upon a most intriguing, and altogether much too small photograph. In it, we see the creation of a sketch involving Grover and Mr. Johnson, the fat, blue character Grover’s always pester – er, helping. This time, Grover finds himself in the home of Mr. Johnson. After doing a bit of research on Muppet Wiki, I discovered this picture comes from the filming of the sketch “Outrageous Makeover: Home Addition.” As a behind-the-scenes photo, of course we get to see some puppeteers and other behind-the-scenes behind-the-scenesness. This is where the intrigue of the picture comes from.
This is no ordinary picture. Rather, a look into the past, present, and future of the Muppets. Buried under a chair operating Mr. Johnson is the brilliantly talented Jerry Nelson. Many know that Mr. Nelson has since retired from performing puppets, though still lends his voice to his Sesame Street characters. Next to Jerry, holding up the irresistible Grover is Muppet genius Frank Oz. What a joy to see these two performing together! This picture is found at the top of page 130. If you have your copy of the book handy, open it to this page. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Do you have it? Okay, now look closely. Not only are Frank and Jerry performing together, but they are also joined by their protegees. Controlling Grover’s right arm is Matt Vogel, the man who would go on to take over a number of Jerry Nelson’s The Muppet Show characters. Controlling Mr. Johnson’s right arm is Eric Jacobson, the man who has taken over for many of Frank Oz’s The Muppet Show and Sesame Street characters. It’s fascinating to see this mentoring taking place – Matt and Eric learning from the first generation of Muppet performers. It may be of no interest to you, but it was terribly exciting to this Muppet freak. The picture serves as a comfort to know that these characters are in good hands, and a reminder that the Muppets will go on.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier