Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Benny Rabbit

WMW Benny Rabbit

Written by Michael Wermuth, Jr.

BENNY RABBIT

Performed by…Benny Rabbit
Kevin Clash

First appearance…
Sesame Street Season 23 (1991)

Most recent appearance…
Sesame Street Season 36 (2005)

Best known role…
Bellhop at the Furry Arms Hotel; irritable rabbit

Catchphrase…
“That’s Benny! Benny!”

WHO IS BENNY RABBIT?
Benny Rabbit is a grumpy rabbit, and he’s quick to remind anybody that he’s not a bunny. If referred to as a bunny, he’ll shout his catch phrase, “That’s Benny! Benny!” And his irritability doesn’t end there: He also hates being asked to do things during his breaks (which prompts him to shout “I’m on my break!”) and he hates being touched.

Benny worked at the Furry Arms Hotel around the corner on Sesame Street, where he worked as a bellhop. There, he had to deal with the ineptitude of co-workers Humphrey and Ingrid, demands from customers, and in one episode was constantly annoyed by Baby Bear, who followed him around at work. In Sesame Street’s All-Star 25th Birthday: Stars and Street Forever, he is the only street resident not distraught by the prospects of tycoon Ronald Grump (Joe Pesci) tearing down the street to build a new Grump Tower. At one point, he supports Ronald Grump’s decision and offers to be his doorman, only to change his opinion when he learns that Grump intends on having a robotic doorman as opposed to paying somebody.

After the Around the Corner set (and therefore The Furry Arms Hotel) was written out of the show, Benny was used less, though he still made occasional appearances (out of his bellhop uniform). He performed such songs as “14 Carrot Love” with Polly Darton, as well as “Don’t Touch Me” and “Do the Benny Hop.” He has made cameos in Global Grover, Elmo’s World, and Trash Gordon segments. He was also a part of the song “B.B. King” (because Benny begins with B). Most notably, Benny served as assistant to producer Prairie Dawn in the Bert and Ernie’s Word Play DVD.

WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED BENNY RABBIT?
For one thing, the Furry Arms Hotel needs a bellhop, and I’m sure Grover can’t be employed everywhere. The hotel may be gone, but maybe someday it’ll come back. And if it does, I’m sure Benny will still be there to carry customers’ luggage (and to take breaks). While the show has many happy characters, Benny is one of the few to primarily be grumpy, along with Oscar, Mr. Johnson, and Bert, to an extent. A grumpy character is a funny character, and a grumpy bunny (oops, rabbit) is a nice contrast to how rabbits are often portrayed in fiction.

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