Lucas Ervin – We’re nearly three weeks away from The Muppets and it’s time to focus on none other than Gonzo the Great! Dave Goelz has performed Gonzo since the beginning. Gonzo is the artist of culture on The Muppet Show, delivering painful, dangerous, and weird acts week after week. In his personal life, Gonzo has a tender spot for poultry, and has been dating a chicken, Camilla, for many years (though he’s not always sure the chicken he’s with is Camilla). While he may be slightly misunderstood, Kermit will always let Gonzo perform, no matter how odd his attempts. Gonzo is Kermit’s best friend, aside from Fozzie, and has had numerous unforgettable numbers with the many guest stars that have come through to host, like Peter Sellers and Paul Simon. While he is certainly indescribable, one thing is for certain… Gonzo truly is the greatest!
23. Flight of the Bumblebee – Here’s the beloved weirdo in his first act ever, long before he was beloved, eating a rubber tire to the tune of “Flight of the Bumblebee.” Gonzo’s first performance ended poorly, being booed offstage by the audience within the first few bites. When exiting, he exclaims to Kermit, “What do they know about great art?” Gonzo’s first act in the first episode of The Muppet Show perfectly defined his misunderstood, never-say-die approach to performing. You’ll notice that Gonzo is the only Muppet who wears a purple tuxedo as his main outfit throughout all five seasons of the show.
22. Jamboree – Gonzo always seemed to sing songs that were just perfect for him. Case in point: “Jamboree,” which was featured in the Raquel Welch episode in season three. In the song, Gonzo sings about not caring what other people say or think, and finding your own ways to have fun in life. This song was actually co-written by Frank Oz specifically for the show, and was so enjoyable that it appeared on The Muppet Show Music Album.
21. Gonzo Hypnotizes Himself While Holding a 5000 lb. Weight – Here’s Gonzo doing an act specifically for “students of the occult.” He demonstrates his hypnotic talents by hypnotizing himself so that he can hold up a 5000 lb. weight with just one hand. Even Statler and Waldorf seem to be impressed. But, like all of Gonzo’s acts, something goes wrong, and he accidentally snaps himself out of it, only to be flattened. This, of course, isn’t the last time Gonzo wound up flattened after an act. He also became pancaked after his attempted free-falling rocket power act with Garth Brooks on Muppets Tonight.
20. Act Naturally – Originally a UK spot on the show, Gonzo sings the Buck Owens classic “Act Naturally” in front of a mirror, and the mirrored version of Gonzo begins to take on a life of its own, startling him at first, but then turning into a rather nice duet. While Gonzo mostly wore the purple tux, here we see him wearing the same outfit he wore in The Muppet Movie when he was a plumber–a role which he will somewhat reprise in The Muppets in a few weeks. This is actually a really great number, so it’s a shame that Americans weren’t able to see it until several years later.
19. Gonzo Rides a Motorcycle into Statler and Waldorf’s Balcony – Here is one of the greatest–and most elaborate–Gonzo segments. He plans to ramp a motorcycle off the stage and land (safely) between Statler and Waldorf. The first attempt at his stunt backfires on him, and instead he rolls backwards off the stage. So when he comes back for a second try, Statler and Waldorf aren’t worried at all. But Gonzo succeeds, crashing straight through their box, causing the two grumpy old men to faint. This is actually one of the most well-known clips from The Muppet Show, and can be seen quite often in Muppet documentaries and specials.
18. John Cleese Fixes Gonzo’s Arm Problem – In this episode, with the help of Crazy Harry, Gonzo catches a cannon ball with his bare hand. One problem though… his arm stretches out over five feet and is unable to do a duet with Robin later in the show. Tired of being teased by everyone backstage, Gonzo enlists in the help of John Cleese. As you can tell from the video, results were mixed at best. John Cleese later had a cameo in The Great Muppet Caper, where he helped a pig and a lizard who broke into his home find a restaurant (although, it’s really more of a supper club).
17. Wishing Song – This song acts as a sort of anthem for Gonzo. In the Madeline Kahn episode, Gonzo puts his love of chickens on the back-burner as he becomes completely enamored with Miss Kahn, and even dons a tuxedo and top hat to propose. When he finds out that Madeline didn’t intend this, Gonzo starts feeling alone and depressed. He begins singing about his loneliness when Madeline reminds him that even though he should count the things in life that mean the most. It’s a beautiful song whose message we tend to forget. Nobody can send a message about being happy with who you are like The Great Gonzo. This song was recently covered on The Green Album and appeared on a some of The Muppet Show albums.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org