Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Mean Mama

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Mean Mama
Written by Michael Wermuth.

MEAN MAMA

Performed by…
Various

First appearance…
The Muppet Show Episode 201: Don Knotts (1977)

Most recent appearance…
Dog City TV Series (circa 1994)

Best known role…
Large, mean looking monster

Also known as…
Big Mama

WHO IS MEAN MAMA?
Mean Mama is a large brown monster with a big mouth. She got her name from her first appearance, in a sketch with Don Knotts on The Muppet Show called “Beast of the Week,” in which she was the mother of the featured beast. Having been locked in a cage, Mean Mama manages to break out and save her child (who was never seen again after that sketch).

Mean Mama was often seen in sketches with other monsters, rarely being the sole focus of a scene. Notable moments include her opening each section of “Ugly Song,” playing a starving monster in an animal shelter sketch with Dom DeLuise, eating John Cleese’s agent, and playing a hungry alien in a “Pigs in Space” sketch, where she ended up eating Miss Piggy.

Although she’s called Mean Mama, she usually looks more masculine, and in her few speaking appearances had a gruff masculine voice. Although big, Mean Mama was not a full-body monster… At first. But late in the second season, she was rebuilt as a full-body character, though the regular puppet version would still make occasional appearances afterwards. The full-body version would usually look more feminine, often dressed with feminine eyelashes and dresses.

Mean Mama has made only a few appearances since The Muppet Show ended. She would go on to appear in Here Comes the Puppets and in episodes of Ghost of Faffner Hall and Dog City. According to The Muppets Character Encyclopedia, Mean Mama is currently retired but is willing to step in if the young monsters don’t have what it takes.

WHY DO THE MUPPETS NEED MEAN MAMA?
Well, the Muppets need monsters, as many as they can get. Mean Mama is the only one to have functioned as both a regular-sized puppet and a full-body walk-around, as well as being one of the few female Muppets (even if she usually looks male). Her large mouth allows her to be one of those Muppet monsters who can eat on-screen.

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

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