Lucas Ervin - For this third week, I would like to showcase some of the craziest characters on The Muppet Show that appeared many times over the show’s five year run. These characters also seem to show Jim Henson’s wicked sense of humor that he was so well known for. Everybody has their weird moments--even Kermit--but these guys are what gave The Muppet Show its crazy vibe. So this week, prepare for sick, weird and morally appalling characters who will make you laugh, sing and run for cover.
I decided to kick off with the Koozebanian characters because they’re featured more often than people might think. Kermit, dressed in the same reporter outfit from Sesame Street, interviewed many of the different species that inhabited the planet Koozebane, such as Phoobs, Spoobles and even covered a Koozebanian mating ritual. The crew from Pigs In Space have also landed on the planet a couple of times, including the Star Wars episode. They come in all shapes and sizes, and can be seen throughout the entire five-year run of the show. The link above shows Dom DeLouise during his visit to the planet, dealing with some mischievous Merdilops.
85. Bobby Benson and His Baby Band
Richard Hunt was another Muppet performer who really understood Jim’s odd sense of humor, and he proved it by playing several questionable characters like Beaker, Sweetums, and, of course, Bobby Benson, a middle-aged man who smokes and somehow has a band of babies with him at all times, and apparently is returning in The Muppets in November. He always said, "That’s my babies!" But I’m pretty sure he just stole them from a daycare center, and the moms and dads never investigated it further. Of course, if their parents actually cared about their babies, then we wouldn’t have great numbers like "Pennsylvania 6-5000."
84. Sam the Eagle
A Frank Oz character, the fact that Sam was always trying to instill moral and wholesome entertainment into the Show but always failing at his attempts to do so is exactly why he makes the list this week. He’s tried discussing the issues of nudity, stealing, and even has read the fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper," where, in this version, the story actually ends with the ant getting stepped on and the grasshopper drives down to Florida. He’s even tried censoring the show a couple of times, and failed miserably. He really doesn’t seem to get along well with anyone either. In fact, the only two people--aside from Wayne and Wanda--that he really can communicate with are Statler and Waldorf. He’s a pretty well-known character, has been around since the Sex & Violence pilot, and despite being a bit difficult towards the other characters, he’s still pretty lovable. In the hilarious clip above, Sam tries to talk to Kermit about his family tree.
83. Wayne and Wanda
If there was one act Sam Eagle really enjoyed, it was this singing duo. The definition of insanity is someone who does the same thing over and over again, expecting different results, and during the first season of The Muppet Show, these two came back, week after week, singing a different song and hoping it would go smoothly. But as we all know, it never did. Kermit ended up firing the two singers (although Wayne would still appear in a melodrama or a song from time to time). The duo returned during Season 4, singing to Kermit for his birthday, but Kermit is reminded of why he fired them in the first place, and fires them again. And who knows? Maybe they’ll be fired for a third time when The Muppets hits theaters.
82. Lew Zealand
I love Lew. It’s that simple. He’s silly, funny and has a very unique act; boomerang fish-throwing. He throws the fish awaaaaay... and they come back to him. He was supposed to only appear once in the Marisa Berenson episode, but Jerry Nelson and the writers enjoyed him so much, he stayed on. Lew has appeared in every theatrical and television Muppet movie. With his goofy laugh and his clown-like apparel, Lew gradually did more than just sling fish; he became a superhero, turned into a chicken, even sang a few memorable songs like "Goodnight, Sardine" and "Another Opening, Another Show." You could even say he was a pretty prominent character by the time the show ended, and from what I understand, he didn’t enjoy his previous job very much. Apparently he used to work with a porpoise just for the halibut, but then he lobster. Yeah, it’s funnier said than written. Anyway, the clip above shows one of Lew's greatest moments: throwing fish while Leslie Uggams sings.
81. Marvin Suggs and the Muppaphone
When we first saw this guy performing "Lady of Spain" on his Muppaphone--a xylophone made of furry little orange and pink Muppet heads that, when you hit them with a mallet, cry "Ow!"--we knew Marvin Suggs sure was... something. He certainly provided some other unique moments, like when he portrayed the judge in Alice In Wonderland, or when he tried out a new act with a singing food chorus, doing his rendition of "Yes, We Have No Bananas." Most recently, he made an appearance in the OK GO music video of "The Muppet Show Theme Song," and is rumored to be making a comeback in The Muppets. When asked what he may be like off the show, Frank Oz once said, "I’ve always felt that Marvin lived in a skuzzy trailer park with his put upon wife, and he kept the Muppaphones in a cage and would beat them regularly." Whatever his off-camera life, Marvin is sure entertaining such as in the clip above, performing "Witch Doctor."
80. Crazy Harry
Crazy is his first name. Crazy Harry--with his love of explosives and eerie laugh--has also been around since Sex & Violence but was originally named Crazy Donald, in reference to the famous puppet-builder Don Sahlin. Also, during the first season, he could be found in the orchestra pit playing the triangle, and was performed by John Lovelady. When Jerry Nelson took over the character in season two, Crazy Harry got that famous laugh and you had to be careful with what you said around him. For example, if Kermit were to say something like, "We’re starting the show off tonight with a bang," Harry would show up with his dynamite plunger, ask "Did somebody say BANG?!" blow Kermit up, and start in with his maniacal laughter. He was recently seen in Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, blowing up an old house, made a dynamite appearance in the OK GO video, and, like many other lesser-known characters, he’ll appear in the new Muppet film in November. I honestly can’t wait to see him, because as Jean Stapleton sings in the clip above, I’m just wild about Harry.
86 Days Until The Muppets!!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org