Answers from John Wessner
1. Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc. and why?
Kermit the Frog – He was the original, and along with Jim sort of started it all. Watching him trying to hold everyone else together on the Muppet Show was always hilarious!
Dr. Teeth – Hard to say exactly why, but I just always enjoyed watching the Electric Mayhem play, and the the gravelly voice Jim used to voice him. It was hard to pick between Dr. Teeth and Floyd, but I once got to dress up as Dr. Teeth for a skit (a live version of Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody), so I have to go with him! I wish there were albums full of Electric Mayhem songs available!
Sweetums – #3 was tough, as I could have gone so many ways, but I remember watching Sweetums as a kid and just loving the look of the character. Years later, when I saw Muppet*Vision 3-D for the first time, I thought it was great that he was there in person… if only Disney would turn him into a meet and greet character!
2. Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street and why?
Ernie – I’ve always loved everything Bert and Ernie have done. Love the interaction between Jim and Frank, and their special friendship was never more evident. So many classic moments featured Bert and Ernie…from Rubber Duckie to Put Down the Duckie… Egyptian mummies, fishing trips, and of course the great take on Gift of the Magi from Christmas Eve On Sesame Street.
Big Bird – You can’t help but love the innocence of Big Bird. I also love the fact that Mr. Spinney has been so dedicated to performing him for so long! I can’t think of many characters or actors outside of the Muppet world with that type of dedication!
The Count – Jerry was an incredible talent, and the sheer joy he put into this character was wonderful!
3.Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock and why?
Gobo – The leadership of Gobo, and Jerry’s amazing singing voice make Gobo a go-to Fraggle favorite.
Uncle Traveling Matt – Even as an adult, I always find myself laughing at the Fraggle viewpoint of things in Outer Space, as shared by Uncle Traveling Matt.
Doc – I thought the inclusion of Doc made the Fraggles seem more real. Docs conversations with Sprocket were always enjoyable. Having Doc on the show made it seem like your own encounter with the Fraggles, Doozers, and Gorgs might be just a Fraggle-hole discovery away.
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?
The Muppet Show – It’s where I “met” the Muppets and it’s what led me to the movies, the specials, and all other things Muppet. I love the fact that it was a show I could enjoy as a child, that still holds up to this day, and that it’s something children and adults can all laugh at together. I share it with my students (I’m a fourth grade teacher) occasionally, and the humor is timeless in spite of the fact that they have no clue who a given guest star is.
5.What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?
The Muppet Christmas Carol – I feel like the gang really did an amazing job telling what has always been one of my favorite Christmas stories. The music was incredible, Michael Caine was the perfect Scrooge, the perfect blend of comedy and heart… there was so much to love about this film. Something about Muppets and Christmas together just seems right! Any concern about whether or not the Muppets would be able to carry on after Jim’s passing was eliminated as soon as “Scrooge” began playing.
6.What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song and why?
Rainbow Connection – The lyrics are incredible, and it’s one of my favorite songs period… Muppet or otherwise.
I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon – Such a sweet song, and great visuals to go along with it.
Pass It On – I loved the Fraggle concept of gift-giving, and the scene in A Muppet Family Christmas with Fraggles interacting with Robin and Kermit while singing this song was a great Muppet moment!
Also have to mention When the River Meets the Sea from Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas.
7. If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer who would you choose and why?
Steve Whitmire – I love the way he has continued Jim’s work while adding his own touches. It would be incredible to talk to someone who truly bridges the original Muppet performers with the next generation of Muppeteers. Steve could have easily decided that Kermit was too big, and too intimidating to take over and left him in the closet. If he had, who knows what level of success the Muppets would have been able to have going forward, but chances are they wouldn’t be where they are today.
8. If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?
Thank you so much for your wonderful, creative characters and for ensuring the Muppet legacy will live on forever! Thank you for the laughter and joy you brought to the world.
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”?
A Muppet Family Christmas – Bringing together so many aspects of Jim’s Muppet universe was truly a once in a lifetime event that was magical to watch… if only it could somehow be rereleased.
10.What’s the name of that song?
La di da di dum…
11.If a judge ruled that Grover had to be your personal assistant for a month, what jobs would you have him do?
Order for me at restaurants, grade my papers, and be my chauffer.
12. In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?
Impossible to answer… I can’t pick a bad production overall… but a bad moment would have to be from The Muppet Show Live–the inclusion of Joe Pasquale was a rather odd hicup in an otherwise amazing production… thank goodness for YouTube!
13. Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?
I had been thinking Ty Burrell or Tina Fey would be great to see work with the Muppets, and both of those came true! Steve Carrell would be another great match. I’d also love to see Steve Martin reprise his role as a waiter, just for nostalgia’s sake! I also always loved the musical guests who appeared on the Muppet show, and I think Brad Paisley or Blake Shelton would work well with the gang too!
14. If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?
Kermit, with our arms around each other
15. What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own? (Feel free to include a picture!)
My Kermit the Frog Tie, ordered from Australia by my wife. I had looked for YEARS for a Muppet tie! I wish Disney would see the potential and create more Muppet Neckties, so they can be part of my workday! Honorable mentions to my Muppet Whatnot “Manny” (named after “Manhattan”) made at the Whatnot Workshop in NYC, my Kermit Mickey Mouse ears, and Muppet Movie film cel (way too hard to pick just one item!)
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, firstname.lastname@example.org