The Weekly Geek: Classic Muppet Improv

Io9 posted the greatest viral video of all time the other day. That may be a lofty claim, sure, but picture this: Jim Henson and Frank Oz improvising on the set of the original The Muppet Movie. As in pure improvising with Fozzie bear, Kermit and Piggy.

Sample dialogue:

Kermit: Do you hibernate?

Fozzie: Only with friends.

And:

Kermit: Have you ever seen a bear with a magenta nose?

Fozzie: I’ve got a newsflash for ya, kid – you hurt me, I’m going to have to hurt you! Are you ready for this?

Kermit: Yeah.

Fozzie: Are you ready?

Kermit: Yeah.

Fozzie: You have a wire in your arm.

Kermit: What?!

Fozzie: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say it!

Kermit: I’ve got a what?

Fozzie: I didn’t want to hurt you!

The wonderful dialogue includes thoughts on whether Fozzie is a “real bear” and his sudden onset of ennui, whether Kermit and Piggy could actually mate (and what would happen!) and conversations with real-life cows.

It’s insanely charming and funny – especially since the puppeteers are actually doing the Muppets’ mannerisms as they improvise. And they crack up in laughter a few times as well.

It’s honestly incredible, looking back at what the muppeteers were capable of – and how much creativity and joy they brought to the cultural table. Having just seen Being Elmo (about puppeteer Kevin Clash, who plays Elmo on Sesame Street) not too long ago, I’m constantly blown away by the skill – and the obvious love – that Henson and crew had.

Hopefully, last year’s delightful The Muppets will set the stage for a whole new generation of muppet-mania. I’d love to see the outtakes from that film, for sure.

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