Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Marvin Suggs

Written by Ryan Dosier.


Performed by…Marvin Suggs
Frank Oz 

First appearance…
The Muppet Show Episode 105: Rita Moreno (1976) 

Most recent appearance…
The Muppets (2011)

Best known role…
Muppaphone player, manager, operator, slave-driver; PETA’s Most Wanted

Marvin Suggs and his Muppaphone were one of the first recurring acts on The Muppet Show. Marvin is the world’s only known player of the famed Muppaphone instrument, which consists of a group of furry pink and orange creatures who make the most beautiful yelping sound when struck just the right way with a mallet. Marvin is well-known for his performances on the Muppaphone of such timeless classics including “Lady of Spain” and “Witch Doctor.”

Although most often seen with the Muppaphone, Marvin Suggs is a multi-talented individual as can be seen in the Steve Martin episode of The Muppet Show when he performed “Yes, We Have No Bananas” with his All-Food Glee Club. However, Marvin’s true passion seems to rest with his beloved Muppaphone, considering his leafy-green show choir never appeared again. (Or perhaps they broke up when Marvin threatened to turn them into a salad… the world may never know.)

TheMuppets-(2011)-Finale-MarvinSuggs&MuppaphoneMostly unseen since the days of The Muppet Show, before 2011, Marvin only made a very brief cameo in Muppets From Space. He had a wee bit of a resurgence, starting with the OK Go video for “The Muppet Show Theme.” He would go on to show up in The Muppets (2011) and Muppets Most Wanted (2014). Marvin’s addition to The Muppets was brought about thanks to director James Bobin, who loves the character. In both films Marvin can be seen pounding on the Muppaphones.

Although Marvin has been largely absent, an action figure was made of Marvin in 2004 as part of Series 8 of Palisades Toys line of action figures. Marvin came packaged with two mallets, a musical wall, and six Muppaphones. Series 8 also included a variant figure of Marvin, dressed in black and silver attire.

Although Marvin Suggs is a very obscure character, Frank Oz still talked about and developed a backstory for Marvin, which was expanded upon in the liner notes for the 2002 CD “Muppets: Music, Mayhem and More.” When asked about Marvin, Frank said,

“I don’t recall where Marvin Suggs came from… probably from one of the writer’s meetings. But the accent came from my French friend Phillippe Gentry — I just exaggerated it and made it really annoying. I’ve always felt Marvin lived in a scuzzy trailer park with his put-upon wife, and he kept the Muppaphones in a cage and would beat them regularly.”

Quite frankly, they might not need him, really. After all, the Muppets already have multiple counts of animal abuse (read: karate chopping pigs, sexually harassing king prawns, bears with tomatoes hurled at them), so tossing Marvin Suggs back in the mix will surely do nothing to get PETA off of their furry backs.

However, Marvin was always very funny and his over-exaggerated performance by Frank Oz was a hoot. That voice is still something I try to imitate (it ain’t easy) and I find myself quoting Mr. Suggs often, saying, “I am not a CRUEL man!” So… the Muppets might not need Marvin, but wouldn’t it be fun to see him smacking those whiny balls of fur again?

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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