20 years ago today, we lost one of the most original creative geniuses ever: Jim Henson. The man knew how to take ordinary materials like felt and ping-pong balls and turn them into some of the most memorable characters in the history of entertainment. As a designer, writer, director, and actor, Jim brought characters to life that we fell in love with as kids, and who often continue to stick with us today. Not only was he creative, but he knew how to surround himself with creative people, like Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, etc, and how to bring out the best from them.
I recently watched through season one of “The Muppet Show” and was delighted–but not surprised–that it held up so well. Looking past the celebrity guest stars, the intentionally stupid puns, and even the remarkable physical special effects, at the heart of the show were wonderful characters and their relationships. Kermit wanted to put on the best show he could. Fozzie wanted to make people laugh. Gonzo wanted to fit in, even if it had to be through bizarre stunts. Piggy wanted to be a star, and to get Kermit’s love…and despite his irritation with her, he still liked the attention, as evident from the times she would make him jealous. Even Statler and Waldorf, for all their complaints about the show, enjoyed the very act of mockery, and would miss Fozzie when he wasn’t there to heckle. Everyone can easily identify with at least one of the Muppets, though we may not always want to admit it.
We leave here with this video by YouTube user “TimeMachine”, set to the heartwarming and tear-jerking song “A Boy and His Frog” by singer/comedian Tom Smith. If you don’t get at least a tiny bit choked up by this video, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.