Nov 28, 2012
Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Mr. Johnson
First (known) appearance...
Sesame Street Season 3: Episode 0276 (1972)
Most recent appearance...
Sesame Street Season 43: Episode 4302 (2012)
Best known role...
Grover's constant and constantly perturbed customer at Charlie's Restaurant and elsewhere
Also known as...
Fat Blue; The Customer; The Food Lover
WHO IS MR. JOHNSON?
Mr. Johnson is best known for his role as Grover's disgruntled customer. His favorite restaurant is Charlie's Restaurant, and he continues to return there even though his service always leaves him angry, exhausted, or confused. Over the years, Mr. Johnson has tried to order many different dishes, and always Grover somehow messes that order up. Whether it's alphabet soup without various letters, a gigantic hamburger, the tomato surprise, or various foods delivered (to the floor) by Grover the Singing and Dancing Waiter, poor old Mr. Johnson rarely gets the dish he wants, the way he wants, in a calm, normal manner.
For many years, Mr. Johnson was only bothered by Grover when he went out to eat. But in the mid-1980s, Mr. Johnson started finding himself in Grover's company at his home, in the park, on an airplane, in stores, at the gym, in a taxi, at the movies, at a baseball game, on Broadway, and, most recently, at the coffee shop. Grover's constant pestering of Mr. Johnson both in and out of the restaurant reached a hilarious apex in the 2006 sketch, "Outrageous Makeover: Home Addition," in which Grover parodies Ty Penington with an obnoxious megaphone and hysterical renovations of Mr. Johnson's home. In the end, he subtracts all the doors in the house and the duo are seemingly stuck together forever.
It seems that everywhere Mr. Johnson goes, Grover is there to provide him "service"--even (or especially) when he doesn't ask for it. Yet Mr. Johnson still showed up for the gala honoring Grover at the Flyer's Club in the DVD special A Celebration of Me, Grover... where Grover was again his waiter, even though the ceremony was honoring him. As Grover said, "A monster has to make a living!" Mr. Johnson also appeared in The Sesame Street Special, Elmo Saves Christmas, CinderElmo, and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland.
The list of services and dishes Grover has attempted to provide Mr. Johnson is extremely long. At the restaurant we've seen chicken soup, bacon and eggs, a time when Charlie's ran out of food, the Special of the Day (the number 9), a fly in the soup, corn on toast, an outdoor cafe, a parody of Much Ado About Nothing, spaghetti, milk (shaken, not stirred), a Russian restaurant, rhyming day, and plenty more. While out of the restaurant, Grover has provided singing telegrams (once with Elmo), speedy pizza, flight attendant services, wigs, paintings, workout instructions, popcorn, photos, protection from fly balls, hot dogs, the letter V, and a very interactive performance of Spider-Monster: The Musical.
Although Mr. Johnson can never seem to get rid of Grover, he does keep going back to Charlie's Restaurant. Perhaps it's the only restaurant on Sesame Street, perhaps the food is really that good (if it ever gets to your table), or perhaps Mr. Johnson really does enjoy Grover. We may never know... but we will certainly love to watch.
WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED MR. JOHNSON?
Mr. Johnson provides Grover with the perfect straight man in his ridiculous exploits. It is also interesting to note that Mr. Johnson is often the sole receiver of Grover's services anytime Grover is working one of his odd jobs. Without Mr. Johnson, Grover would probably have no one to provide service to and would thus be unemployed.
But beyond that, Mr. Johnson is just a truly funny, fun character. He is often just as funny as Grover in their sketches, with a much more dry humor and hilarious laments wondering why he keeps coming back to the same restaurant. In recent years, it was often exclusively the Grover/Mr. Johnson sketches that Frank Oz returned to perform in alongside Jerry Nelson. These two legends performing these two wonderful characters is yet another reason why Mr. Johnson is needed.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org