Of Muppets and Men
August 12, 2007 12:02 AM   Subscribe

Of Muppets and Men. [1 2 3 4 5 6] Excellent behind-the-scenes documentary showing the mental, verbal and physical athleticism of putting together The Muppet Show. Also, a TMBG video mashup with excerpts from the doc. [All YouTube, Previously]
posted by McLir (55 comments total) 101 users marked this as a favorite
"The Muppet Show" link is Wiki. My bad.
posted by McLir at 12:04 AM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Everyone's glasses look like windshields. Giant mutant windshields on steroids.

It sounds like the puppeteers are doing impressions while talking normally. Jim Henson doesn't have a voice of his own, he can only speak in the Kermit voice.
posted by stavrogin at 12:35 AM on August 12, 2007

I kind of feel obligated to comment in this post.
whoo cool.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 12:44 AM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

I miss that Jim Henson fellow something fierce.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:56 AM on August 12, 2007 [4 favorites]

That is cool, I always enjoyed the Muppets when growing up, however I never actually knew any of the guests that appeared on the show.
The Muppet show aged pretty well except for some of the more obscure guest stars. And for someone growing up in the eighties in Europe a lot of them were really unknown.
posted by sebas at 12:57 AM on August 12, 2007

Awesome, Awesome, Awesome.

I particularly enjoyed the bit with John Cleese at the beginning of link 6, and the bit with (who else?) Dr. Bunsen Honeydew about 30 seconds into link number 5.

Stavrogin, I noticed that too. Jim Henson's normal speaking voice is far too close to the Kermit voice for comfort.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:07 AM on August 12, 2007

My, men sure knew how to wear a beard then.
posted by adamt at 1:15 AM on August 12, 2007

(That second comment was after I had actually watched most of it.)
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 1:24 AM on August 12, 2007

I've had a really bad night. There are very few things that could have put a smile on my face. This did it. Thanks.
posted by billyfleetwood at 1:41 AM on August 12, 2007

What's Frank Oz doing dressed up like David Cross?
posted by null terminated at 3:06 AM on August 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

[this is good]
posted by jb at 3:19 AM on August 12, 2007

I miss Jim Henson too.
posted by h00py at 5:13 AM on August 12, 2007

What a cool bunch of people. And what splendid jumpers!

I for one laughed like a silly at the "pillage idiot" line...
posted by eponymouse at 5:21 AM on August 12, 2007

I heard Jim Henson say in an interview once that he was shy and introverted, but speaking in Kermit's voice gave him a way around that- he could say what was on his mind. He said this particular thing through Kermit too, now that I think of it.

I wish they had laid Kermit to rest when Jim Henson died. Not all of the muppets- even Ernie I was ok with someone else doing the voice. But Kermit- that never seemed right to me.

Thanks a lot for this post- I hadn't seen this before.
posted by jiiota at 5:45 AM on August 12, 2007

jiiota, Kermit was Jim's most prominent Muppet by far, but the Muppet who was most a part of him, and most an avatar for his own personality, was Rowlf. Rowlf was, though not retired, largely moved into the background after Jim's death.

And yeah, seventeen years later and I'm still sad. I know I've already said this about Mister Rogers, but Jim Henson was a saint, too.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:22 AM on August 12, 2007

null terminated beat me to it.

Very cool post. Thanks.
posted by Cyrano at 6:34 AM on August 12, 2007

It's a shame that Frank Oz has essentially retired from performing his characters, though his voice has changed quite a bit from when this was filmed.

And it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that I miss Jim as well.
posted by evilcolonel at 6:42 AM on August 12, 2007

Doesn't watching that documentary just make you wish that somehow, someway, you could've been involved with that team? Creative genius... man, that brought back some memories.
posted by thatweirdguy2 at 7:22 AM on August 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

Thanks, this is just wonderful.
posted by Merik at 7:37 AM on August 12, 2007

If only there were something on TV so good today!
posted by Misciel at 7:43 AM on August 12, 2007

My gosh, thank you so much. I thought I had seen all the Muppet stuff out there, but I hadn't seen this somehow. Just so heartwarming and amazing. I actually got goosebumps.
posted by Knicke at 8:25 AM on August 12, 2007

posted by ZachsMind at 8:51 AM on August 12, 2007

posted by sourwookie at 8:55 AM on August 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

Fourth walls are built to be taken down.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:30 AM on August 12, 2007

They are all so sober when they are working the puppets. I think I would be forced to make the same expressions as the puppet.
posted by DU at 9:38 AM on August 12, 2007

Frank Oz is mostly retired? I thought he was still working on Sesame Street.
posted by DU at 9:40 AM on August 12, 2007

Great post - thanks. I'm always amazed at how much personality comes across in puppets. It's often so much better than CGI characters.
posted by Staggering Jack at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2007

Do you think the beards were just 'the new guys' mimicking the bosses style?
posted by empath at 9:41 AM on August 12, 2007

The Muppets are just about the only thing left that give me faith in humanity.
posted by Hadroed at 11:13 AM on August 12, 2007

Thanks, McLir! You made my, and probably may people's, day.
posted by ambulance blues at 11:22 AM on August 12, 2007

Funny, I was just exposing my daughter to the wonder and glory that is The Muppet Movie for the first time this morning. She's four, and I don't think she's really understands what she's seeing, but she's enjoying it.

Me, I'm watching it as an adult for the first time, and fully appreciating the work that went into the puppetry. And laughing my ass off at the jokes that are sailing over my daughters head.

"Sparkling Muscatel. One of the finest wines of Idaho."
posted by lekvar at 12:06 PM on August 12, 2007

A number of actors who have appeared with Muppets in tv shows or movies say the Muppets are so real to them that they converse with the Muppet before and after takes. They forget that there is a Muppeteer standing *right there*--and the Muppeteer is so used to communicating through the Muppet that he (or she) conducts the conversation with the actor by way of the Muppet. It becomes intrinsic.

Amazing... and don't you wish you'd had the chance to sit down and talk to Kermit.
posted by tzikeh at 12:23 PM on August 12, 2007

My God that brings back some memories. Oh, and for Jim Henson:

posted by localroger at 1:31 PM on August 12, 2007

i love you mclir, and i want to have your babies...
posted by es_de_bah at 2:13 PM on August 12, 2007

and now that i'm done watching i must say:

it's been really quite a long time since i've been genuinely sad to see something end. great movies and shows that hold my interest still find me anticipating the credits these days. maybe i've become jaded. maybe it's media overload (quite probable given our times). in any case, i often find myself longing for the last chapter, waiting for that last chord to fade out, if only so i can sit and digest what i've just witnessed.

but i hated to see this documentary end. for a little while, i lived backstage at jim henson's shop, and i savored every minute. now i almost don't know what to do with myself. that sixties font rolling over my screen evokes in me the harshest ennui and a desire to...

oh shit, and the TMBG video, too? KICK ASS!!! gotta go--
posted by es_de_bah at 2:50 PM on August 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

es_de_bah, do you have any stories living backstage at Jim Henson's shop? Let's know!

(As per your offer, do resemble Lola Heatherton or Catherine O'Hara's brother?)
posted by McLir at 3:27 PM on August 12, 2007

David Cross could play a young Frank Oz.
posted by starman at 3:40 PM on August 12, 2007

What's Frank Oz doing dressed up like David Cross?

I spoke too soon.
posted by starman at 3:41 PM on August 12, 2007

"Sparkling Muscatel. One of the finest wines of Idaho."

Would you like to smell the bottlecap?
posted by Cyrano at 3:44 PM on August 12, 2007

did anyone else notice that the camera operator of the muppets and men doc was roger deakins?
posted by ambulance blues at 4:09 PM on August 12, 2007

Yow. Deakins has quite the resume.
posted by McLir at 4:14 PM on August 12, 2007

"do you have any stories living backstage at Jim Henson's shop?"

Ditto what McLir said, es_de_bah.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be in Henson's workshop when I grew up, but lost interest in puppetry around high school. I've only recently taken puppetry back up as a sorta hobby, and I'd forgotten how difficult, and how rewarding, it could be. My arm muscles are so outta shape. LOL! I used to be able to do live shows for parties and art fairs for hours. Nowadays, just five minutes in front of a webcam leaves me feeling like a wimp.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:35 PM on August 12, 2007

...wow. That looks like fun!

Puppet Improv. If there is a heaven for me, it's gonna have puppet improv, and I'll go through eternity with the unmitigated illusion that I'm actually good at it.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:55 PM on August 12, 2007

I believe you all misread what es_de_bah was saying. I interpreted the phrase as being "for a while (this documentary made me feel as if), I lived backstage...."

But I'd love to be wrong.
posted by daq at 5:06 PM on August 12, 2007

Good call daq. (es_de_bah may still reward the overly-literally-minded of us.)

In other news... Perhaps I should have cruised this link before posting, BUT, here is a heapin' helpin' of season 2. [TV Links]
posted by McLir at 5:22 PM on August 12, 2007

Fantastic post. Many thanks.
posted by Outlawyr at 6:23 PM on August 12, 2007

The Muppet Show was extremely important to me as a kid. One night a week I got to stay up an extra half an hour in order to watch the show with my family. I wanted to grow up and work at the Muppet studios, but it seemed like an impossible dream. Thanks for this.
posted by chowflap at 8:21 PM on August 12, 2007

Made my day.
posted by Phred182 at 8:31 PM on August 12, 2007

It's a credit to the artistry of the Muppet show crew that during the first scene, I expected the pig puppets to carry on and chat with the operators onstage. It was almost jarring to see them still, because they're infused with so much character and life.

I was having an absolutely terrible day, and you've made mine as well. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
posted by louche mustachio at 11:04 PM on August 12, 2007

When I was a kid, I wanted to work on the Muppets too.

But I thought it was a real theatre, and maybe I could dance with Gonzo's chickens.
posted by jb at 4:22 PM on August 13, 2007

i hate to disappoint, but i was speaking metaphorically.
posted by es_de_bah at 6:26 PM on August 13, 2007

I'm really glad that Mr. Rogers and Jim Henson aren't here in this 21st century, because I can just see either of them saying something that the neoconiverse wouldn't like, and then Bill O'Reilly would have to do a 60-minute show attacking Jim Henson, and then I would've been jailed for doing something rather unspeakable.
posted by WCityMike at 7:00 PM on August 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

Really interesting how Oz describes the complexity of muppet interrelationships--each of them has an opinion about or an issue with each of the others. Compared to the one-track pap produced now now (thoroughly destroyed here), it's remarkable.
posted by Phred182 at 1:01 PM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine the other day explained to me in detail how Mister Rogers fits the "police profile of a pedophile." I smiled and nodded and changed the subject as soon as possible. Then I mentally did that thing that Chandler used to do on Friends whenever he heard something he didn't wanna hear...

Chandler: "That didn't just happen!" [waves arms in the air in front of him, blinks several times, says something incomprehensible and snaps his fingers]

"Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
If we had the chance to do it all again-- "

*SFX explosion*
John Candy: "She blewed up real good!"


Doesn't work. I loathe the 21st century so far.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:26 PM on August 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

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