On the heels of my biography post about Jim Henson, I thought I’d try to do a Top 5 of his best characters!
…Only all his characters are great so it’s kind of a fail. And I have to make it a Top 10. And then I had a really hard time ranking them. So if you disagree, just remember, I struggled with this! 😉 Here is the first half, numbers 10 to 6. Top 5 will follow tomorrow!
10. Link Hogthrob
Link is a wonderful character, because he is attractive and masculine – I like the fact that the majority of the most stylish and attractive characters on The Muppet Show are pigs – and also self-adoring and dumb as a post. His voice just kills me. After rising to fame as the Captain of the Swine Trek on “Pigs In Space“, Link showed up regularly backstage and in the background of other sketches; he was also in the 2011 movie, performing a barbershop quartet rendition of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The other thing that amuses me most about Link is how Miss Piggy seems not to be able to stand him. I guess it’s the battle of the egos. 😀
9. Muppet Newsman
Semi-ubiquitous, the Muppet Newsman was usually in extremely brief skits where he’d come in with breaking news and fall victim to the news as the punchline. In genuinely ridiculous ways, like “the worst blizzard in 60 years, barometers are falling sharply!” and then a bunch of barometers fall on him. Not a lot to say about a quick recurring gag, but he’s a sharp dresser, and evidently dedicated to his job. 😀
8. Mahna Mahna
So here’s a secret: as a kid, Muppets with eyes like his (or like Floyd Pepper’s) freaked me way out. I later decided that Floyd’s eyes must have been dark glasses (which may have been wrong, but it helped me get over my fear of the character as a kid), but I still don’t know what Mahna’s are. I mean he blinks, so… not glasses? ANYWAY! The slightly growly voice is a standard of Jim Henson’s (there’s not a huge difference between Mahna and Rowlf, for instance), but the design sets this guy apart. That and the fact that all he ever really says is scatting. 😀 He’s just basically a big furry… music-lovin’… free spirit! I think he might be kind of a hippie mountain man who loves jazz! Or something. 😀 It doesn’t really matter, does it? He tried to follow the rules, but the love of music and rhythm keep leading him down into improvisation and the melodies filling his head. What a joy! Rules, schmules!
7. Dr. Teeth
Teeth is among my favourite characters ever, anywhere (but attempts to remain unbiased put him into the second half of the top 10 instead of closer to #1). Iconoclastic and lyrical at all times, Dr. Teeth is the perfect front man for Electric Mayhem. He’s loud, showy, and kind of a guru. Love, man! It’s all about love! And peace! And probably some stuff that the kids shouldn’t know about. 😀 He’s a born leader and has a pretty amazing sense of fashion. I can’t say “style” but I can say “fashion”! So what are those on the top half of his eyes: eyelids, or lenses? It’s a pretty amazing design touch: even though his eyes don’t close per se, he always has a sort of relaxed look to him when the ‘lids’ are down. And they can be raised to give him a change of expression. I always loved the Muppets who had moveable eyelids, but Teeth’s are an extra step of cool. Even cooler: his general look is based on Dr. John, the blues musician from New Orleans.
Waldorf, of course, is one of an inseparable pair so if you just hear the name “Waldorf” you could almost be like “Huh? Who dat?” And then you hear “Statler and Waldorf” and you’re like “THE OLD GUYS IN THE BALCONY!” of course. Since Waldorf is just half of the “character”, basically, it’s hard to single him out as one of the best; but their role is one almost everyone loves. These two guys have devoted their entire twilight years to planting themselves wherever the Muppets are performing, and heckling them mercilessly. They get no greater pleasure in life than telling the Muppets how unfunny they are. They especially love tearing Fozzie apart, possibly because Fozzie really is just not funny, and because he takes all of the comments so personally. In addition to having an entire balcony seat dedicated just to them every week on “The Muppet Show”, they have travelled to Hollywood to view (and mock) the screening of The Muppet Movie, entered and won (or lost?) a contest to attend Muppet Vision 3D, and now spend much of their days watching Muppet YouTube videos and mocking those as well. 😀 Some trivia: Statler and Waldorf were each named for famous New York hotels (Waldorf-Astoria, and Statler – later renamed Hotel Pennsylvania).
Tune in tomorrow for the top 5!