The Great Muppet Survey – Mary Arline

Answers from Mary Arline

1.  Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc. and why?
I’m one of those boring people whose favorite Muppet is Kermit. He is everything I want to be: funny without being mean, smart without being overbearing, and although he sometimes loses his temper, he never says an unkind word. He’s been involved in show business for almost 60 years now, with his integrity still intact. He’s been everywhere and seen everything, and yet he’s never become cynical, never lost his faith in humanity, and always finds something positive to say about everyone. He’s a prince among frogs AND men. Next, I don’t have to probosculate upon mentioning Dr. Teeth, whom I love because he’s a wordsmith and because he sings “Can You Picture That?,” one of the greatest Muppet musical numbers of all time. I also love his design, especially the hunched shoulders and skinny little arms. And then there’s Beaker: this sweet, timid little creature who’d never even hurt a fly, and yet he has all these terrible things happen to him all the time. Even though you laugh at his misfortune, you still feel bad for him and you want him to succeed at something someday. Plus, he has such a beautiful singing voice.

2.  Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street and why?
My two favorite Sesame Street characters are Bert & Ernie. If I were forced to choose one over the other, I would choose Ernie, but they’re almost always at their best when they’re together. I love them because they remind me of my older sister and myself, especially in the early days when we had to share a bedroom, and because they’re the Abbott & Costello of children’s television. My third favorite Sesame Street character is Cookie Monster’s Alistair Cookie persona, because “Monsterpiece Theatre” set me on the path to choosing English as my college major.

3.  Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock and why?
I must admit that I’m not as familiar with Fraggle Rock as I would like to be, but: Mokey, because she kind of reminds me of myself; Red because she is cool; and Cantus because… Jim Henson.

4.  What is your favorite television program starring any of Jim Henson’s creations (e.g. The Muppet Show, Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock, Dinosaurs, etc.) and why?
Sesame Street is my favorite because it’s available and accessible to everyone, and because it’s still one of the smartest and funniest shows on television.

5.  What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?
I have equal love for The Muppet Movie and Muppet Treasure Island. The Muppet Movie because it has everything I love about the Muppets, and therefore, I love everything about it. Muppet Treasure Island, partially because I can’t resist a literary adaptation, but mostly because it restored my faith in the Muppets after Jim Henson passed away. And if Sesame Street movies can count in this category, I have to give honorable mention to Follow That Bird.

6.  What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song and why?
“I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon” is one of my favorite songs, period. I’ve never really thought about why, though. I suppose it’s because it reveals a quiet, contemplative side of Ernie that we don’t get to see very often.

7.  If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer who would you choose and why?
Hmm, good question.  Looking over my list of favorite characters and thinking about who’s currently performing them, one name shows up more often than any other; therefore, it has to be Steve Whitmire.

8.  If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?
“I love you so much, you brilliantly silly man!” (That’s assuming I could say anything through my tears.)

9.  If the President called you and asked to discuss Muppet projects, what would you tell him was the “Greatest Muppet Moment of All Time”?
First of all, if the President called me and only wanted to talk about Muppets, I’d be pretty disappointed.  But anyway, for me, that’s an easy question: it’s the end of A Muppet Family Christmas, when the three major branches of the Muppet family tree are all together singing Christmas carols, and Jim Henson shows up unobtrusively to do the dishes.

10. What’s the name of that song?

11. If a judge ruled that Grover had to be your personal assistant for a month, what jobs would you have him do?
Is the judge punishing me or Grover? Anyway, my job generates a lot of sensitive paperwork that needs to be shredded, so I would have Grover operate the paper shredder (because that wouldn’t be a recipe for disaster…) and take out the recycling.

12. In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?
Oh dear, I could get into so much trouble here… Okay, I’ll say this: The Jim Henson Hour was really weird and not very funny, but maybe it would have gotten better if it hadn’t been cancelled so soon.  On the plus side, it had that animatronic lion, which was pretty much the coolest thing ever.

13. Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?
My answer is kind of esoteric, but the plot of the next Muppet movie reminds me of an Italian movie called Johnny Stecchino, so I would love to see a cameo by Roberto Benigni. He is best known in America for walking around on the seat backs at the Academy Awards in 1999. In other words, he’s pretty Muppety.

14. If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?
Well, if I were really limited to only one, I don’t know who I would choose, but if I could choose two, it would be Bert & Ernie. I would pose with Ernie on my right, Bert on my left, and my arms around their shoulders. (Or, in Bert’s case, around his no-shoulders and floppy, soggy arms.)

15. What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own? (Feel free to include a picture!)
Collectively, the DVD sets Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days and Old School: Vol. 3 were the best $40 I ever spent.

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier,

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