The Great Muppet Survey – Benny Sheckner

Answers from Benny Sheckner
1.   Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc. and why?
I am an aspiring comedian, so my number one pick is pretty much Fozzie Bear by default. I also relate to Fozzie in that we both have this sort of unbreakable perseverance when it comes to our comedy—while our jokes might not always be the greatest, you just have to admire how much of our heart and soul we put into each and every one of them. My second favorite is probably Rowlf, because who’s sweeter than Rowlf? You can’t not adore him. My third favorite is Floyd. I sustain that his cover of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” ADDS substance to the original version. Jerry Nelson’s performance there is so emotional, and so true.

2.   Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street and why?
Big Bird has always held a special place in my heart. He’s so innocent and kind. And special in a really profound way. I can’t really place my finger on that, exactly, but I definitely think SPECIAL is the right word to describe him. My second favorite would have to be Grover. Grover is too funny—I can never get enough of him. One of the most purely comedic Sesame characters, and he succeeds in that area valiantly. Third is Cookie Monster. I don’t think I really need to give a reason why. He’s Cookie Monster.

3.   Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock and why?
My favorite is Wembly. I find him to be very relatable, being a pretty wishy washy person myself (though wishy washy might be a term best used to describe Boober). My second favorite is Mokey. For me, one of the best parts about Fraggle Rock is how the characters’ good qualities also sometimes acted as their flaws, and Mokey is probably the best expression of that. She’s plagued by much of what’s happening in the world around her, but doesn’t fully understand what is in and out of her control. That aspect of her character fascinates me. She’s also my favorite Fraggle singer. Third, I love Convincing John, in his few appearances. A hysterical character, that I’m convinced is meant to be a political statement. Though I might be reading too much into him. Either way, Convincing John is a classic.

4.   What is your favorite television program starring any of Jim Henson’s creations (e.g. The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs, etc.) and why?
The Muppet Show is my personal favorite. It’s just great sketch comedy, some of the best ever made, I think. I don’t think that television had ever had that much anarchy before. The Muppet Show probably paved the way for some of the really wild stuff that came after it, like Mr. Show or 30 Rock.

5.   What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?
The original movie is my favorite. It’s a perfect movie, which balances its comedy really perfect with a little dramatic weight towards the end. And the cameos are fantastic. It’s the only movie that can list Mel Brooks AND Steve Martin AND Kermit The Frog in it’s credits, I believe. That’s INSANE.

6.   What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song and why?
I really love “Life’s A Happy Song.” I listen to it constantly. I can remember hearing it for the first time; I remember all of the thoughts running through my head so clearly. Whenever I’m feeling a little down, I put it on, and it lifts me right back up. I love it.

7.   If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer who would you choose and why?
Caroll Spinney. Having read his book, I can confirm that he’s everything that a Muppet fan would want him to be. I just want to hear all of his stories, he probably has a treasure chest full of them just waiting to be told. He’s also one of my favorite performers. The fact that he still does Big Bird to this day is really wild and impressive.

8.   If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?
Ahh, don’t get me started.

9.   If the President called you and asked to discuss Muppet projects, what would you tell him was the “Greatest Muppet Moment of All Time”?
I remember reading the Hollywood Reporter headline “THE MUPPETS ARE BACK– $40 MILLION OPENING WEEKEND CONFIRMS REBIRTH OF FRANCHISE,” I just broke down. What a triumphant moment. The movie was up against Twilight, and I was getting nervous that this would be the end of the gang for good. But the fact that the movie did as well as it did really warmed my heart. It showed that the masses understand everything we’ve all known for a long time—that these characters are important. These characters have more humanity than most humans. These characters are made to be in the spotlight, and, now that they’ve got it back, they aren’t going to be leaving anytime soon.

10.   What’s the name of that song?
I’m not sure if this is a reference to a sketch that I’m not picking up on. Either way, I’ll go with The Rhyming Song.

11.   If a judge ruled that Grover had to be your personal assistant for a month, what jobs would you have him do?
I’d have him be my doctor. I will relinquish my health and sanity for comedy.

12.   In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?
I don’t care much for Muppets From Space. It’s not bad, I just think it does a disservice to a lot of what makes the characters great. The music is also really problematic for me. Just not Muppety enough.

13.   Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?
Will Arnett would be AMAZING with the Muppets. The Community fan in me also wants to see them interact more with Donald Glover, following that brief cameo he made in the 2011 movie. Also, Louis C.K, because that will never happen, and would be BIZARRE and probably great.
14.   If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?

I would like a picture of Cookie Monster eating me.

15.   What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own? (Feel free to include a picture!)

I’m not sure if this counts, but I have this GREAT Muppet poster that I got from I also love my Kermit the Frog Adidas. I’m on my second pair—ordering my third from eBay. They’re the only shoes I want to wear!

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier,

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