The Great Muppet Survey: Joe Pawich


Answers from Joe Pawich

1.   Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc. and why?
First, Kermit – a green felt extension of Jim Henson, he’s the glue that holds the gang together and does his best to preside over the insanity as the voice of reason.  Second, Fozzie – a loyal friend, I can relate to his desire to be liked and his bad jokes. And finally, Statler and Waldorf – what can I say? I dig the sarcastic, insult comic humor. Plus, Statler always reminded me of my late great-uncle George (see picture) both physically and in demeanor, minus the profanity.

2.   Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street and why?
First, Ernie – like me, he has no use for stuff-shirts and mercilessly torments the humorless Bert by having fun the way only he can. Second, Cookie Monster – he likes cookies. I like cookies. I get him. Finally, Big Bird – perpetually in a state of childlike wonder, he speaks to the kid in all of us. Honorable mention – Oscar. See above with Statler and Waldorf.

3.   Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock and why?
I watched this back in the day but have only really become reacquainted with it in the last year, so from what I’ve seen lately. So first, Junior Gorg – the childish lisp and gifted singing of Richard Hunt makes for a nice combination. Second, Wembley – his nasal voice and high-strung nature make for a character whose anxiety I can relate to. Last, Red – like most redheads, she’s a spitfire with energy that can be contagious. Honorable mention – Pa Gorg. Gotta love his stubborn pride.

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?
I watched them all back in the day, but I have to go with Sesame Street because it was the first I was exposed to, the show I watched most religiously and had by far the biggest impact on me growing up.

5.   What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?
The Muppet Movie. I think it holds up the best and hits more right notes than the others. Honorable mention–The Muppets. It had a lot to live up to, but I think Jason Segel showed he was a true Muppet fan and hit it out of the park. I wish I could’ve done that.

6.   What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song and why?
“The Rainbow Connection.” I have no reasons for this that are any different than most have already mentioned here. It’s a terrific, inspirational, uplifting song. Honorable mention–“I’m Going To Go Back There Someday.” I was glad to see this song get some love here too. Hauntingly beautiful, I’ve always had a fondness for it.

7.   If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer who would you choose and why?
Whoever would best tolerate my questions about Jim and humor me by telling stories of him.

8.   If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?
I liked the member who said they would tell him to make sure the cab driver dropped him off on the right side of the hospital. Failing that though, I would simply say thank you for doing your part to make sure I grew up the right way.

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”?
A Muppet Family Christmas with the entire Henson universe. I remember back in the day, reading about this in the TV Guide and being stoked for it to air. For a Muppet fan, there was no greater crossover. I think it’s still on VHS somewhere back on my family’s farm. Honorable mention–the end of Jim Henson’s memorial service with all the Muppet performers singing together. Heck, the whole service was a fitting tribute to the man and the legacy he left behind.

10.   What’s the name of that song?
I don’t know, I just know it goes “la-de-da-de-da, la-de-da-de-da”.

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 work customer service at the front counter. Customers have no problems giving my coworkers grief for things that are out of their control, but methinks treating a furry blue Muppet that way would be difficult given Grover’s lovable, apologetic nature.

12.   In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?
Gotta agree with the masses and say The Muppets’ Wizard Of Oz. I was inspired to check it out based on these surveys and found a stream online. Haven’t gotten through it yet and may never. I just don’t think it was the right vehicle for the Muppets for some reason.

13.   Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?
Seth MacFarlane. Yes, his humor may be twisted and out there, even for the Muppets, but somehow, I think Jim would’ve got it. He’s clever, irreverent, and the Muppet references in his work tell me they were obviously a big influence on him as well. Plus, he’s a classically trained singer and would be right at home in big Muppet musical numbers.

14.   If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?
I’d get a picture playing dueling banjos with Kermit on the log from The Muppet Movie. No, I can’t play the banjo, but it’s a picture–nobody would know that.

15.   What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own? (Feel free to include a picture!)
Growing up, it was the talking Big Bird doll I got for Christmas that I lugged around by the neck so much that his head just flops at his side now. After all this time, the doll still talks, but Mr. Spinney’s voice sounds like he’s in need of an exorcism. I also have a small rubber Oscar figurine that had a lot of adventures with me, including almost getting flushed down a restaurant toilet somehow. Today, my most prized possessions would be: My record supposedly signed by two of my favorite icons, Jim and Kermit (picture to the right)–I’ve never had it authenticated and can’t prove it was, but for what I paid for it, it was worth the risk. Also, my photo of Miss Piggy and Harry Belafonte supposedly used as set dressing in Miss Piggy’s dressing room in 2011’s The Muppets (pic below)–again, I can’t prove it, but it seems to match up. I even tracked down the movie’s set decorator, Tracey A. Doyle, online and asked her about it. She provided the attached set pic from her records, and based on the pic I sent her was of the opinion that it was the one she dressed to the set. So until anyone proves otherwise, I’m taking her word as the final one and believe it to be the real deal. Again, for what I paid, it was worth the risk. I wanted my own little piece of the magic, and given Belafonte’s contribution to the Muppet universe, I felt this was more than suitable.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier,

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