1 The Muppet Mindset: Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Harvey Kneeslapper

Jul 10, 2013

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Harvey Kneeslapper

Special thanks to Chris Stulz for his Photoshop skills!


Performed by...
Frank Oz

Earliest known appearance...
Sesame Street Season 3 Episode 0288 (1971)

Most recent appearance...
Sesame Street Season 40 Episode 4209 (2010)

Best known role...
Sesame Street's resident practical joker

Harvey Kneeslapper is a raucous, obnoxious, heavy-laughing practical joker on Sesame Street. Harvey appeared in many sketches and inserts throughout the first 25 seasons of the show. His pranks mostly involve letters and numbers that he slaps onto the bodies of other characters as a punchline. This is followed by his trademark outrageous laugh. Harvey almost always got the last laugh in his sketches.

In his first sketch, Harvey approaches an Anything Muppet man with a hat sitting on a wall. Harvey asks the man if he would like him to keep an eye on his hat, to which the man graciously replies yes. Harvey then proceeds to slam down the letter I onto the hat and laugh raucously.

Most of the time, the victims of Harvey's pranks are blue Anything Muppets who look very similar to Grover's beleaguered customer Mr. Johnson. The poor guy apparently just can't get a break. This Anything Muppet appeared in at least 11 of Harvey Kneeslapper's segments, always as the victim of Harvey's goofy pranks. Other times Harvey's pranks befell other Anything Muppets, but once he even got the best of Kermit the Frog during a Sesame Street Newsflash segment and Ernie in a Robin Hood segment.

Harvey even sang two songs on the show over the years, "Hee Hee Ha Ha" and "Tell a Joke." The first song is all about the letter H and Harvey is accompanied by Big Bird and Herry Monster. In "Tell a Joke," Harvey sings to cheer up Luis with the help of Bob and Susan. Both of these songs showcase Harvey's zany, crazy style and his ability to bug other characters on the show.

Harvey Kneeslapper was dropped from the show after many seasons and many sketches because his voice and his laugh put such a strain on the voice of his performer, Frank Oz. The fact that Harvey was always seen as a one-joke character did not help his chances either. Harvey's segments were seen on the show as long as Season 32 until they stopped appearing altogether.

Harvey's most recent appearance was in Season 40 of the show in the "Tribute to Number Seven" episode. He appeared at the very end of the episode as a "Hidden Gem" in Season 40, slapping a number 7 on the beach ball of Wolfgang the Seal and, of course, laughing. Here Harvey was performed by Matt Vogel and this is probably the final appearance the character will have for some time.

Although Harvey himself did not appear, a framed photo of the famed Kneeslapper appeared on the wall in the background of the "Upside Downton Abbey" sketch in Season 43.

Harvey Kneeslapper is representative of the Muppets great ability to tell terrible jokes and get away with it. Harvey tells jokes that are almost as bad as Fozzie Bear's. Perhaps is Harvey was used as a comedian like Fozzie on Sesame Street he could work, but I don't think Harvey will be on the show anytime soon.

And it's at this moment that Harvey would slap a giant letter B on the show...

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

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