May 19, 2011
Muppet Maestros - Victor Borge
Guest on The Muppet Show Episode 405
Frequent guest on Sesame Street
It was probably a PBS pledge drive week when one of my parents announced "Victor Borge is on!" "Who?" "You know, that guy from Sesame Street." What a match made in heaven: Victor Borge and the Muppets.
Victor Borge was making audiences laugh before Jim Henson was even born. He was born Borge Rosenbaum to a Jewish family in Copenhagen, Denmark on January 3, 1909. A child prodigy, he began studying piano at age 2. While originally in his career he worked as a concert pianist, before long he started including humor in his act, including anti-Nazi jokes. He was on tour in Sweden when the Nazis occupied Denmark, and managed to escape to the United States.
In the United States he learned English, mostly from watching movies, and changed his name to Victor Borge. Within a year he was working on American radio. For the next 60 years he would perform in concerts, and on television and radio around the world.
One of his most famous routines was "Phonetic Punctuation" in which he created specific sounds for each punctuation mark. If you aren't familiar with the routine, do yourself a favor and watch it. To give you a sense of how durable Borge's comedy is, my father first heard Phonetic Punctuation in high school, in the early 1960's, on a record player. Just a couple of months ago I played the YouTube video for my students. They were very appreciative.
Borge appeared multiple times on Sesame Street. (I know the clip that is most burned in my brain was the piano seat belt.) He also was a guest star on The Muppet Show in the 4th season. My favorite moment is the duet of "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" with Rowlf.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier