Of all the different variety shows I’ve seen, The Muppet Show (1976-1981) definitely stands out as a favorite. It’s a perfect balance of onstage performances, backstage story lines, and one-liners from old hecklers Statler and Waldorf as they express their criticism about the various acts. Jim Henson was a genius.
I used to take drama classes at a community college, so that made the story lines more relatable. For example, let’s say that you were part of a live theater show, amateur or professional. Sure, you and the cast are performing the same show every night, but what about backstage while you’re waiting for your cues. There’s usually an unseen story happening, which can sometimes affect how you perform onstage.
The Muppet Show also shows an artistic side from each of the different Muppet characters. Reoccurring regulars include Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Rowlf, Swedish Chef, and the Electric Mayhem (the house band). It’s a great assortment.
Along with the individual acts, there’s also sketch comedy. Here are some of the reoccurring skits.
Vet’s Hospital is about Dr. Bob (Rowlf), Nurse Piggy, and Nurse Janice telling jokes while working on patients.
Pigs in Space is about Captain Link Hogthrob, First Mate Piggy, and Dr. Strangepork having comedic misadventures on their spaceship, the Swinetrek.
At the Dance features various Muppet characters with each couple telling corny jokes to one another in a ballroom.
Muppet Newsflash has a news man telling fictional news stories as the items he talks about fall from above onto his head, which I have always found hilarious.
Muppet Labs is a scientific demonstration sketch, where Dr. Bunsen Honeydoo and his assistant Beaker present their various inventions that never really work.
Muppet Sports features sportscaster Louis Kazagger covering unusual sporting events.
Then there was Bear on Patrol. Chief Link Hogthrob and Officer Fozzie have funny situations at the police station while bringing in criminals.
I have to hand it to Kermit. He’s always open to all kinds of acts, no matter how strange they are, considering how much hard work and dedication is needed to put on a show. As for the acts that don’t run smoothly, I feel that trying too hard is what causes it. For instance, Fozzie tries too hard to be funny in his standup, Gonzo makes his daredevil acts too complicated, and Miss Piggy always wants to be the star of everything. She makes threats if she doesn’t get her way, just like a diva. There’s always one of those. Don’t you just hate that?
The Muppet Show has opened a lot of doors for me as well. It was how I first heard of celebrities such as John Cleese, Ruth Buzzi, Julie Andrews, Lynn Redgrave, Twiggy, and the late Peter Sellers.
This show has many different types of songs, some of which are old Broadway show tunes. That’s how I first heard about them. Sometimes I wonder, if most of the music featured on this show is not original, then how do you suppose they get the music rights so easily? Well, at least when the celebrity guest star is a singer performing his or her own music, like Elton John, Paul Simon, or Deborah Harry, it’s all covered. (For that episode anyway.)
Overall, I think The Muppet Show is very creative. As comedically strange as the acts and skits are, Kermit knows how to keep the show professional, if he can help it.