Answers from Mark Hansen
1.) Who are your three favorite characters from The Muppet Show, Muppets Tonight, The Jim Henson Hour, the Muppet movies, etc. and why?
Picking even three favorite Muppets is a difficult task, not unlike gargling Gershwin or training boomerang fish. The Muppets are such a community of players and their best moments are typically in at least pairs. However, I do know that my favorite is Rowlf. Rowlf, to me, embodies the soul of the Muppets more than any other character. He’s musical, he’s quick with a lousy pun and he’s down to Earth. He’s the consummate entertainer. My second favorite is Scooter. When I was a kid, I had one of those Fisher Price Scooter action figures (along with the other Muppets), and I used to carry him around because I thought we looked alike. Aside from that, I love his enthusiasm, which by all accounts mirrors Richard Hunt’s. For my third, I think I’ll go with Gonzo. The preeminent weirdo speaks to the weirdo in me, and I think, in all of us. Who hasn’t looked up to Gonzo for his courage, if not his art?
2.) Who are your three favorite characters from Sesame Street and why?
About a year and a half ago, I became a dad, and one of the many, many pleasures of fatherhood is being able to revisit Sesame Street. My favorite character by far these days is Cookie Monster. Here is this potentially one-note character given hilarious depth by Frank Oz, be it as Alastair Cookie or the way he says “Arrivederci, frog,” to Kermit when he learns the item in the mystery box isn’t a cookie. My son’s favorite is Big Bird. I love Big Bird’s childlike wonder and I think my son likes him because he’s big and yellow. That’s reason enough, isn’t it? My third favorite is a little unusual, but when I was young, I remember really liking Guy Smiley. I think his exuberance and his shtick of having trouble finding the curtain’s opening tickled me. He always seemed like his jaw was going to unhinge and the top of his head would fall off, which would have been traumatic, I suppose. Fun!
3.) Who are your three favorite characters from Fraggle Rock and why?
I’m not as familiar with Fraggle Rock, so my feelings on it are not as pronounced as other Muppet productions. But I will provide two favorite characters based on what I have seen. My first would be Doc, mostly because of his relationship with Sprocket, and I love an amateur inventor. One of the great things about Fraggle Rock is the way each aspect of the show is so fully formed, you could have a show just about Doc and Sprocket or the Gorgs and it would be thoroughly entertaining. My second favorite is Uncle Traveling Matt. Matt is absolutely one of the funniest Muppet characters, with his hubris, slapstick and skewed view of Earth culture. Plus, my son thinks it’s hilarious when I tickle his face with Traveling Matt’s mustache.
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, as it seems the perfect evolution of Jim’s puppet vision which began on Sam and Friends. Taking the sublime and ridiculous musical numbers from this and the Muppets’ many variety show appearances and marrying it with characters we feel for and whom are so complex we forget they’re puppets. Part sitcom, part variety show, The Muppet Show endures because of the likes of Fozzie and Kermit and Piggy, their relationships and talents (or lack thereof.)
5.) What is your favorite Muppet movie and why?
My favorite is The Muppet Movie for reasons too numerous to mention, but I’ll list five of them anyway:
1. The Rainbow Connection.
2. No other Muppet movie has done celebrity cameos better than this one.
3. I love how Kermit’s conversation with himself in the desert is unexplained and not treated as fantastical, it just happens and we know that it’s probably magic.
4. “Bear left!” “Right, frog!”
5. I’ve seen this one probably more than any other Muppet movie, and yet every time I watch it, it feels special.
6.) What is your favorite Muppet/Sesame/Fraggle song and why?
I know I mentioned The Rainbow Connection up there, but I’ll have to go with Movin’ Right Along. I just love the nonsensical lyrics, and it’s too much fun to sing.
7.) If you could have dinner with any living Muppet performer who would you choose and why?
I’ve given this a lot of thought, and even though it’d be great to meet Frank Oz and find out what it was like to work with the likes of Jim, Jerry, and John John, and even though I have a bit of a crush on Louise Gold, I think the Muppet performer I’d choose is Karen Prell, who is by all accounts a lovely person and who has not only worked with the Muppets but also at Pixar!
8.) If you could tell Jim Henson one thing, what would it be?
We miss you terribly. That or you have the same birthday as my Mom!
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”?
Kermit and Joey singing the Alphabet song on Sesame Street. I seriously cannot get enough of it. And replacing letters of the alphabet with Cookie Monster is never not funny.
10.) What’s the name of that song?
George Washington Bridge
11.) If a judge ruled that Grover had to be your personal assistant for a month, what jobs would you have him do?
Probably just have him hug me lots and play games, maybe babysit.
12.) In your opinion, what is the worst Muppet production ever made?
Probably Muppet Wizard of Oz, though even that has its moments. I’ll stick with that answer, since I don’t have another one.
13.) Who is one celebrity you would love to see cameo in the next Muppet movie?
Bruce Campbell, baby!
14.) If you could take a picture with any Muppet, who would you choose and how would you pose?
I think I’d recreate the “we’re identical twins!” pose from The Great Muppet Caper with Fozzie.
15.) What is your favorite piece of Muppet merchandise that you own? (Feel free to include a picture!)
I’ve got lots of really cool Muppet merch, even more now that I’m a Dad, but my current favorite is one my wife got me for Christmas this last year. The Muppet Show album, on vinyl, in pristine condition. It sounds great and looks great. It is, in fact, great.
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, email@example.com