Answers from Joe Newman-Getzler
1. Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc. and why?
Probably my favorite of the main Muppet characters is Rowlf. He’s kind, wise, laid-back, and pretty darn cool overall. Plus, he’s a piano-playing dog. How can you NOT like a piano-playing dog? My second favorite is probably Gonzo. I like how he’s such a “try and try again” kind of guy. If one stunt fails, he’s game to try another one without hesitation. Plus, I love his wacky spirit. If there was any character who I’d say embodies the spirit of the Muppets, it’d be Gonzo. And third? Walter. He’s a Muppet who’s also a Muppet fan. A character I can really relate to!
2. Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street and why?
My favorite is, without question, Grover. You can’t get much cuter than Grover. He’s practically made of niceness. He’s always willing to help someone, even if he’s not perfect at doing so. Plus, he’s probably the only legitimate superhero on Sesame Street. My second favorite would be Cookie Monster. He is probably one of the Street’s most durable mainstays. They can use him in just about anything and still make it funny. And third would be a tie between Ernie and Bert, since I find it hard to name one instead of another. They just go together so well, and I consider them to be the pinnacle of Jim and Frank’s collaboration. They both retain distinctive, likable personalities that keep fans coming back for more.
3. Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock and why?
This one is tough. I haven’t seen that much of Fraggle Rock, but so far, my favorite character would be Gobo. He’s witty and resourceful, even if he’s a bit egotistical. He also makes a fine leader, more so than a lot of other Fraggles. (Seriously, can you imagine Boober leading anybody?) Speaking of Boober, he’s my second favorite. I love how he’s the nerd of Fraggle Rock, which makes him, like Walter, an easy character for me to relate to. Of course, my nerdy tastes don’t lean as much toward doing laundry, but I get the basic gist. And my third favorite is Junior Gorg. He’s like Elmer Fudd: he acts like an antagonist, but he’s too likably stupid to hate. He’s just trying to look good in his father’s eyes, and prove that he’s not as stupid as he thinks. Hey, we all can dream.
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?
Sesame Street, hands down. I grew up with this show. The concept is what makes it work so well: likable characters get involved in sticky situations, resolve it and learn a lesson, and then we get treated to a succession of great skits and songs. And they’ve been keeping this up for almost 45 years. It’s pretty unbelievable. Plus, I a, one of the few Muppet fans who actually likes Elmo. But to prove I’m not an alien, I also agree that the Zoe puppet from Season 40 was terrible. Satisfied?
5. What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?
I’d have to go with the original. It’s loaded with heart and creativity, plus great writing and songs. It set such a high bar for the other movies that they could only come close to recapturing that magic, but they could never quite succeed. It’s timeless, and I am so glad to own it on Blu-ray.
6. What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song and why?
Do you mean from each respectively, or out of all of them? I’m leaning toward the former, so here goes: my favorite Muppet song is “Happy Feet.” Granted, when I first heard the song, I immediately thought of tap-dancing penguins. But visually, it really displays the imagination that the Muppets could utilize: we never really see Kermit’s feet, but we truly believe he’s dancing like Astaire. A timeless little bit.
7. If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer who would you choose and why?
I think I’d have to go with Frank Oz. he’s the one with the closest relationship to Jim, and it’d be cool to get some insight on what it was like to work with Jim. Plus, he’s cool all by himself.
8. If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?
“GO SEE A DOCTOR!”
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 never knew the president was interested (I thought he was busy hacking into people’s emails). But the moment I’d single out would be the finale of The Muppet Movie. Jim’s message, Jim’s creations, and Jim’s best song, in one place. Who could ask for more out of a Muppet project?
10. What’s the name of that song?
“Escape (The Piña Colada Song)”. Yeah, it’s not just “Do You Like Piña Coladas”. Who knew?
12. In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?
Normally, I’m a lot kinder to the worse Muppet productions than a lot of people (I got introduced to the main Muppets through Muppets from Space. Sad, I know). No, I’d say the worst of the worst (the most hated and cursed) is probably A Special Sesame Street Christmas. Wrong on so many levels, I can’t even count. But if it technically doesn’t count as a Muppet production (good, that means they disowned it!), the worst would probably be The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz. Everyone says that, I know, but there’s a reason.
13. Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?
I’d like to see what’d happen if a Sesame Street Muppet made a cameo, a la The Muppet Movie and The Great Muppet Caper. Grover, perhaps? Or maybe if they got a bunch of actual Muppet fans to pop up, asking for Constantine’s autograph, thinking he’s actually Kermit, like Joe, Ryan R., and Ryan D. Or maybe “Weird Al.” I’m kind of surprised they hadn’t thought of that.
14. If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?
Rowlf playing the piano while I play the ukulele.
15. What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own? (Feel free to include a picture!)
My Whatnot. I’ve named him Tuxedo Moe. Wish I had a picture.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com