Michael Wermuth, Jr. – I’ve been a Muppet fan all my life. My first memory of the Muppets is watching the opening credits sequence from The Great Muppet Caper. I was born the same year that Muppet Babies premiered. My earliest memories of watching Sesame Street seem to begin during the 19th season, though I feel I saw it earlier than that. I also saw Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting in its original broadcast, and recall watching The Jim Henson Hour at least twice during its original run. I also watched Dinosaurs regularly during the show’s run.
While I had always been a Muppet fan, I think my obsession started to become an obsession in 1992. My grandparents had given me every volume of Jim Henson’s Muppet Stories that year, and during the summer I often watched my copy of A Muppet Family Christmas, and started to pay attention to how several characters looked. Then on the first day of school that year me and my classmates looked through magazines for some sort of project, and I saw several pictures of Muppets, and noticed that they looked different than in A Muppet Family Christmas. So after school I watched the few Muppet videos I had at the time, and on my next few trips to the video store I would rent Muppet videos (that video store had four of The Muppet Show compilation videos released by Playhouse Video, and five videos from Jim Henson’s Play-Along Video label).
Lucky for me this was a very good time to be a fan of the Muppets. Around this time I got cable and Nickelodeon just started airing Muppet Babies reruns, and would soon start airing old Muppet specials, and a couple of years later Nickelodeon would start airing reruns of The Muppet Show. The Disney Channel started airing reruns of Fraggle Rock, and although I didn’t have the channel at the time I did get to watch the show regularly. The Muppet Christmas Carol was released in theaters that year. And best of all, the Jim Henson Records and Jim Henson Video lines had started.
I first learned that the Muppets were really puppets when Nickelodeon aired “The Secrets of the Muppets.” In fact I think this was what made me learn that what happens on TV and in movies wasn’t real (I had seen a number of animated cartoons in which characters worked in movie sets, but was ignorant of what was going on). I wasn’t disappointed that the Muppets weren’t real, though; In fact I thought it was cool. And this helped make a few things I noticed make sense to me: I had started to notice that the movies listed the names of the Muppet characters underneath other names, I had noticed the arm wires of the characters but didn’t know before why they were there, and I had noticed that many of the characters legs weren’t shown much. And I believe I learned the names of the Muppet performers quickly, faster than I’d learned the names of many celebrities and voice actors. In 1994 I obtained a copy of The Story of Jim Henson: Creator of the Muppets, and later that year I saw the Great Performances documentary “The World of Jim Henson”, which helped me learn more about Jim Henson and the Muppets.
In 1996 my household got the internet, and the first website I visited was the old Muppet Home Page by Bill Sherman. I would soon look at other Muppet websites, my favorites being Muppet Central, Tough Pigs, Muppet Wiki, and of course The Muppet Mindset. I regularly lurked around the various Muppet message boards before finally joining the Muppet Central message board (under the name minor muppetz, in part because I like many of the minor characters). And I’ve made many great contributions to Muppet Wiki and The Muppet Mindset.
For years I have had a strong desire to be an actor, writer, and maybe director, and I feel a big part of this desire was due to the Muppets (after all, many Muppet productions involve the characters putting on a show or production of some sort). In 2009 I started a YouTube channel, mwermuthland. Many of my videos include references to the Muppets, and in some of them I wear a t-shirt featuring Muppet characters. One video I did, “Harftoons Flashlights”, was inspired by the Wilkins Coffee commercials. I’ve done a handful of variety show videos called “eMpty-TV”, all of which so far include at least one sketch with my Palisades Toys Muppet action figures (the Muppet segments were also uploaded separately as stand-alone videos). Another of my videos, “Xormorphic News Program #18: What News?”, ends with a long, meaningful tribute to Jim Henson (among a variety of funny, fictitious news stories). I included my Statler, Waldorf, Pops, and Dr. Strangepork action figures in a video called “Old People Vs. Slackers” (based on a late-1990s Game Boy Pocket commercial). And there have been many other references, too numerous for me to name.
In conclusion, the Muppets are one of my biggest obsessions. I do enjoy other things, like Looney Tunes and Family Guy, but the Muppets are at the top of my interests.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier