1 The Muppet Mindset: Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Wayne and Wanda

May 30, 2012

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Wayne and Wanda

Written by Ryan Dosier.

WAYNE AND WANDA

Performed by...
Richard Hunt (Wayne)
Eren Ozker (Wanda)

First appearance...
The Muppet Show Episode 102: Connie Stevens

Most recent appearance...
Muppets Most Wanted (2014)

Best known role...
Inept, unaccomplished, destructive singing duo on The Muppet Show

WHO ARE WAYNE AND WANDA?
Wayne and Wanda are a notable singing duo who appeared often in the first season of The Muppet Show. They were notable for the fact that their acts almost always ended in the scenery collapsing upon them, some creature interrupting them, or one of them forgetting the lyrics. Often introduced by Sam the Eagle, with his usual misplaced bravado, their acts were simple but effectively funny outlets for classic Muppet physical comedy.

Though never stated outright, the duo was often a presumed romantic couple, not just a singing duo. This was mainly due to the fact that nearly every one of the songs in their acts were love duets. From "Indian Love Call" (interrupted by a Native American Whatnot) to "You Do Something to Me" (as Wayne saws Wanda in half) to "Some Enchanted Evening" (Gorgon Heap eats Wayne), almost every Wayne and Wanda number featured Wayne serenading Wanda and Wanda responding (if the act didn't collapse in on itself before that).

Although they mainly existed onstage during the first season of The Muppet Show, Wayne and Wanda did have one notable backstage moment in their very first appearance in the Connie Stevens episode. While backstage, Wayne grew angry over the fact that they were being replaced by the Connie Stevens act... until Connie herself emerged from her dressing room and Wayne changed his tune.

After Season 1 of The Muppet Show, due to both the departure of Wanda's performer Eren Ozker and head writer Jerry Juhl's decision to focus on character comedy rather than one-note jokes, Wayne and Wanda were phased out as a singing duo. While Wanda was removed completely (aside from a brief appearance in Season 4), Wayne returned in Season 3 for many appearances. He sang solos such as "Dog Walk" and "My Wild Irish Rose," continuing his passion for singing. Wayne's most notable appearances in Season 3 were as the dashing (and idiotic) hero in the "Muppet Melodrama" segments with Uncle Deadly and Miss Piggy. Here, Wayne would always fail to save damsel in distress Piggy from the schemes of Uncle Deadly, often resulting in a friendship between Wayne and Deadly.

Both Wayne and Wanda (now performed by Kathy Mullen) returned to The Muppet Show for one episode in Season 4's Episode 406 guest starring Linda Lavin. During Kermit's birthday celebration, Wayne and Wanda return to guilt trip Kermit for firing them after Season 1. Feeling incredibly (and rightfully) guilty, Kermit hires Wayne and Wanda back on the spot, but once the duo start singing again he remembers why they were fired... and fires them yet again.

Wayne and Wanda were merely background characters in the Muppet universe through the end of The Muppet Show and long after. So long, in fact, that it took Roger Langridge's The Muppet Show Comic Book to bring the characters back--albeit only in print form. Even in a comic book their acts could not succeed, as both their performances of "When the Lusitania Went Down" and "Mighty Like a Rose" end prematurely and disastrously.

The dysfunctional duo did not return in puppet form until "The Muppet Show Theme Song" music video with the Muppets and OK Go in 2011, only appearing with the large group at the end of the video. They made a semi-prominent return in The Muppets feature film in 2011. In the film they mostly appear in the background except for a hilarious scene, essentially confirming their romantic relationship, when the power goes out at the Muppet Theater.

WAYNE AND WANDA'S ACTS
Below is a list of the numbers performed by Wayne and Wanda during the first season of The Muppet Show... and what went wrong during them.
  • "Stormy Weather" Episode 103: Joel Grey - It starts raining
  • "Row, Row, Row" Episode 104: Ruth Buzzi - Their rowboat sinks
  • "Goody Goody" Episode 105: Rita Moreno - Wayne knocks Wanda down
  • "Indian Love Call" Episode 106: Jim Nabors - A Native American responds to the love call
  • "You Do Something to Me" Episode 108: Paul Williams - Wayne saws Wanda in half
  • "I Get a Kick Out of You" Episode 110: Harvey Korman - Wayne kicks Wanda
  • "Autumn Leaves" Episode 112: Peter Ustinov - Leaves fall on them
  • "Trees" Episode 113: Bruce Forsyth - The tree falls on Wayne
  • "Some Enchanted Evening" Episode 116: Avery Schreiber - Gorgon Heap eats Wayne
  • "I'll Know" Episode 117: Ben Vereen - Wayne chases a cute girl (who isn't Wanda)
  • "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered" Episode 119: Vincent Price - Wanda turns into a Frackle
  • "On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)" Episode 120: Valerie Harper - A factory emits too much smoke
  • "Let it Snow Let it Snow Let it Snow" Episode 121: Twiggy - Snow falls on them
  • "It's Only a Paper Moon" Episode 124: Mummenschanz - A prop moon falls on Wayne
WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED WAYNE AND WANDA? 
This is one of the hardest questions I've ever asked myself. It's clear that Wayne and Wanda aren't that necessary to the success of the Muppets, considering they were fired after Season 1 and the Muppets certainly didn't falter without them. Wayne and Wanda join a very small list of Muppets who were knowingly fired by Kermit (twice). Yet their presence in The Muppets suggests that they had been hired back yet again. Who knows, really, why they're needed. Goodness knows it isn't their ability to finish their acts. 

Perhaps what makes Wayne and Wanda needed is their commitment. They certainly don't give up even though their acts kick back hard every time they try to perform. Fate seems to have it in for Wayne and Wanda... but this tenacious team never gives up, displaying true Muppet spirit (and stupidity).







The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

3 comments:

  1. I guess I always thought they were a take-off on Lawrence Welk's Guy and Ralna.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think of Ryan as the Wayne to my Wanda really.

    xoxo

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  3. I think Wayne and Wanda are based on Nelson Eddy and Janette MacDonald from 1930s MGM operetta's. The singing style as well as Wayne's soldier outfit and Wanda's dresses and hats are reminiscent of the costumes Eddy and Janette wore in their films.

    ReplyDelete