Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: J. P. Grosse

WMW JP Grosse

Today’s article is written by Michael Wermuth, Jr. If you would like to contribute to Weekly Muppet Wednesdays, email us at muppetmindset@gmail.com.

J. P. GROSSE

Performed by…JP Grosse
Jerry Nelson

First appearance…
The Muppet Show Episode 205: Judy Collins (1977)

Most recent appearance…
Muppets Tonight Episode 206: Paula Abdul (1997)

Best known role…
Scooter’s Uncle who owns the Muppet Theater 

WHO IS J. P. GROSSE?
J. P. Grosse is the owner of the Muppet Theater. According to George the Janitor, he is not the theaters first owner, and apparently the theater was in better shape before he bought the place. Kermit in particular seems to be intimidated by J. P. Scooter is J. P.’s nephew, so whenever Scooter wants something that Kermit won’t allow, Scooter will often innocently mention his uncle who owns the theater and Kermit will be quick to change his mind. In fact, this family connection is what got Scooter his job as a go-fer in the first place.

Throughout the first season, J. P. Grosse was an unseen character but frequently mentioned by Scooter whenever he wanted something, whether it be to perform an act last-minute or to bring an unauthorized crate into the theater. J. P. was first mentioned by name in Episode 202 of The Muppet Show, when he calls his nephew and agrees to provide the payroll money that Kermit is short on, under the condition that Kermit puts some lady wrestling into the show.

J.P. made his first onscreen appearance in The Muppet Show Episode 205 when Judy Collins guest starred. He came to the theater to announce that he was going to have the theater torn down and turned into a junkyard, because, as he tells Kermit, “There’s more money in real junk than the junk you’ve got here.” However, by the end of the episode he decided to cancel his plans to tear down the theater, but only because it would be a waste of money, as the theater was already falling apart on its own.

His other major appearance on the show came when the similarly-named Jaye P. Morgan guest starred in Episode 218 of The Muppet Show. Jaye P. overheard Kermit complaining about how terrible it is to have J. P. around during the show, and J. P. later misunderstood when he heard Kermit talk about wanting Jaye P. to sing the closing number (and was happy with the prospect of singing on the show “If the price is right”).

The writers of The Muppet Show have stated that the idea of the character was good as long as he wasn’t seen, but when it came time to actually write for the character they had trouble, so his appearances were limited. In fact, after the second season, Scooter mentioned his uncle considerably less, especially after the Muppets started appearing in movies and specials outside of the theater, in continuities where Scooter’s uncle has no known power over Kermit. Still, J.P. Grosse was seen in the background for many years, especially throughout the 1990s in The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island (ironically, he was most used in the background during the period when Scooter wasn’t used at all). He was frequently seen in the control room on Muppets Tonight, though it’s unclear what his job there was.

By the time of 2002’s It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, J. P. no longer owns the Muppet Theater, and in a deleted scene it is implied that he had died when Kermit says that the Muppets had inherited the theater from him. In puppet form, he hasn’t been seen since Muppets Tonight, though he did make an appearance in the first issue of The Muppet Show Comic Book.

WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED J. P. GROSSE?
Well, he owns the theater that the Muppets worked at. That’s a very important thing. And he is Scooter’s uncle, so without him Scooter wouldn’t have a job. Sure, he’s intimidating to Kermit and maybe the other Muppets, but that only causes some great dramatic conflict.

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

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