Jarrod Fairclough – With the announcement of ‘Muppets Meet the Classics: Phantom of the Opera’ back in February, comment sections everywhere lit up with ideas for other possible classic books this series could bring. Could we see The Muppets cast in adaptions of ‘Lord of the Flies’, or ‘Pride and Prejudice’, or ‘A Shore Thing’ by Snooki? God, I hope not.
But it got me thinking about one of the most classic tales of all – ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald, a story about the high life in the roaring 1920’s. Our hero Nick Carroway narrates as he is swept in to the world of romance, intrigue and drama. Of course, the real story is full of very un-Muppety themes, like cheating and manslaughter, so let’s just skip that part and make it a family friendly romp about music, shall we?
Kermit the Frog as Kernick Carraway.
A recent Swamp Academy graduate originating from the Maryland, and, at the start of the plot, a newly arrived resident of West Egg. He also serves as the first-frog narrator of the novel. He is easy-going, occasionally sarcastic, and always optimistic, even though sometimes he probably shouldn’t be.
The Great Gonzo as Jay Gonzby (aka The Great Gonzby).
A young, mysterious millionaire and stunt man, originally from North Wherever. He’s in love with Daisy Petal’s guitar skills, since she used to play lead guitar while he sailed through the air in a 1912 freak show, which is where he made all his money. He wants Daisy back to play music for him again.
Janice as like, Daisy Petal Buchanan, fer sure.
An attractive and effervescent, if spacey, young socialite and guitar player. She is Nick’s old next door neighbour, and the wife of Floyd Buchanan. Daisy Petal once had a professional relationship with Gatsby, before she married Tom. Her choice between playing music for Gatsby or Tom is one of the central conflicts in the novel.
Floyd Pepper as Floyd Buchanan.
A musician who lives on East Egg, and Daisy’s husband. Tom is a man of lanky build with a “husky, if slightly nasally” voice and laid back demeanor. He is a former rockstar, and just wants to play music with his woman.
Miss Piggy as Miss Bakery.
Daisy Petal’s long-time frenemy with a rotund and definitely not athletic body, and the attitude of a bipolar sociopath. She is a reluctant Kernick’s girlfriend for most of the novel and an amateur boxer with a highly shady reputation and a penchant for untruthfulness, or, as she calls them ‘little white lies about her calorie counting’.
Fozzie Bear as Bear Wolfskin.
A friend and mentor of Gonzby’s, described as a comedian who flopped at the Comedy World Series. Bear Wolfskin appears only twice in the novel, the second time refusing to attend Gatsby’s return to cannon balling because he has this great gig writing dialogue for Buster Keaton’s silent films.
Now, it would be one thing just to recast the key players, but we at The Muppet Mindset aren’t just content with that. No, instead we’ve gone the extra mile (or the extra 1.61 kilometres for us that use the metric system) and have found select passages from the original 1925 book, and rewritten them as they could possibly be seen in our new classic, The Great Gonzby…
Selections from The Great Gonzby
Kernick’s opening lines…
In my younger and more tadpoley years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my green head ever since.
‘Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,’ he croaked, ‘just remember that all the creatures in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.’ He was right, of course. While we were blessed to live in one of Maryland’s best swamps, there were many frog families who had resigned themselves to lives in laboratories, just waiting to be dissected.
Kernick describes Daisy Petal…
Her hair was lovely with bright things in it, like beads, scrunchies, and the smell residue of what she and her husband Floyd had been inhaling on the balcony just moments earlier. She had bright eyes back in our youth, though now they seemed permanently closed, and she had brightly lipped wide mouth. There was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, and an elongated “fer sure, rully,” which seemed like a hint that she had recently inhaled things jazz singers did in the 1920’s.
Kernick on Gonzby’s demeanour…
He smiled understandingly – if not a little wildly. It was one of those smiles without that quality of eternal reassurance in it, like you would never be sure what to expect when in the company of with this… whatever Gonzby was. It faced the whole eternal world for an instant, and then that strange curved beak nose concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. Of course I couldn’t help but be drawn to him, nobody could. But each second spent lost in Gonzby’s charms were seconds spent wondering just how long it would take before you would be unwittingly, and sometimes unknowingly, thrown in to one of his newest stunts, often times involving snowblowers and vats of chocolate fudge sauce.
Kernick and Miss Bakery attend one of Gonzby’s many parties…
‘I like large parties’, Miss Bakery said through handfuls of canapes. ‘They’re so intimate. At small parties there aren’t as many people to look at me and how amazing I look in this sheer gown. Don’t you think so, Kernie?’ I stood there, almost sweating, unsure how to tell my reluctant new friend that the seams in her dress seemed to be busting, almost as much as I was, looking anywhere for a way out of the conversation, and this apparent new relationship I’d had no part in creating. Thankfully, at that moment when it became too awkward to respond, there was the boom of a bass drum, an almighty growl from a chained up red fella, and the voice of the orchestra leader rang out suddenly.
‘Moms and pops’ he cried in his deep gruff voice. ‘At the request of the too cool Mr. Gonzby, we’d like to play for you an old favorite.’ The man looked around, gold tooth glistening like a disco ball under the bright lights. ‘It’s called, and we’ll play,’ he concluded lustily, ‘Tenderly.’
Kernick and Gonzby discuss his reasons for needing Daisy Petal…
‘I wouldn’t ask too much of Daisy Petal,’ I ventured. ‘You can’t repeat the past.’
‘Can’t repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously, his large eye lids receding back in to his head. ‘Why of course you can!’ He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
‘I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,’ he said, nodding determinedly. ‘She’ll see.’ He talked a lot about the past and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into his old life as a stunt man and cannon ball. His life had been confused and disordered since then, with meaningless nights with chicken after chicken, but if he could return to a certain starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was…
Kernick on Gonzby’s final stunt at the books end…
The green light flashed, and with great gusto Gonzby flew through the air, his gleeful screaming becoming more obvious as the cannons explosion withdrew. Daisy Petal’s rocking music, alongside her husband Floyd, made the perfect soundtrack for the happy occassion, not even to be dampened by a petulant Miss Bakery, still seething from the break up back in Chapter 8.
Gonzby always believed in that green light, the future that second by second receded before him, counting the moments until he would fly again. It eluded him until then, but that’s no matter, for he had again found it… Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther… And one fine morning perhaps we too will be as gleeful as The Great Gonzby.
Now, where can a frog buy some fly soup in this town?