Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Geri & The Atrics


Written by Abigail Maughan.


Performed by…
Jerry Nelson (Geri)
Louise Gold (Guitar player)
Steve Whitmire (Tuba player)
Dave Goelz (Drummer)
Frank Oz (Pianist)
Kathy Mullen (Knitter)
Richard Hunt (False Teeth)

First appearance…
The Muppet Show Episode 404: Dyan Cannon (1980)

Most recent appearance…
The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years (1986) (As a group)
Muppets Most Wanted (2014) (One single member, the drummer)

Best known role…
Old lady rock band

Memorable quotes…
“Get with it, you turkey! We’re what’s happenin’!” – Geri
“Yeeeeaaaaah!” – The Singing Dentures

Geri and the Atrics are an energetic group of elderly women (and one talking pair of dentures) who perform ‘50s and ‘60s rock and roll hits with orchestral instruments on The Muppet Show. The band consists of a woman who we assume is Geri herself, played by Jerry Nelson, a pink tuba player played by Steve Whitmire, a humanoid guitarist played by Louise Gold, a big-nosed blue pianist played by Frank Oz, a wrinkly-faced knitter played by Kathy Mullen, a green drummer played by Dave Goelz, and a singing pair of dentures played by Richard Hunt.

Who is Geri? One would assume that she’s the lead singer of the group, but the leader is actually a completely different puppet from the band’s first two appearances to the next one, although they are both voiced by Jerry Nelson. The first is the yellow cellist who led the band’s renditions of “Hound Dog,” and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” and was never seen after that. She was subsequently replaced by a humanoid tambourine player who was seen as the leader in the final performance and every group appearance after that. Are they both Geri? Is either of them Geri? If that’s the case, then who is the real Geri? The world may never know.

The band performed three times on The Muppet Show. In the Atrics’s first appearance, they sang “Hound Dog” as the opening number of the canine-centric episode guest-starring Dyan Cannon. An old hound dog sat in on this performance. Their performance of “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” was the UK spot of episode 413, which guest-starred Dizzy Gillespie. In their final appearance on the show, episode 517 featuring Hal Linden, the group was appropriately (but later regrettably) hired by Statler and Waldorf to perform a flashy “Who Put the Bomp in the Bomp Bomp Bomp” as the opening number.

While they never took the stage as Geri and the Atrics again, members of the group, all but the singing teeth and the original Geri, have been included and reused in various projects throughout the years, including but not limited to Muppet Treasure Island, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppets Tonight, and even The Ghost of Faffner Hall TV series. Some notable appearances:

  • Some of the Atrics were in attendance at Kermit and Miss Piggy’s wedding in The Muppets Take Manhattan, singing a line about time passing in the song “He’ll Make Me Happy.”
  • The band’s guitarist was transformed into Howard Tubman’s butler Carter on Muppets Tonight.
  • Also on Muppets Tonight, the guitarist and Geri 2.0 became the fast-footed act of the Dancing Grandmas, the only performance that would satisfy the invading Rock Lobsters in the episode featuring Pierce Brosnan.
  • The Atrics’ pianist was among a group of women singing about Ebenezer Scrooge’s possible goodness in the opening number of The Muppet Christmas Carol. (“Naaah!”)
  • In The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years, Geri and the Atrics sat with fellow old geezers Statler, Waldorf, and Pops.
  • The band’s drummer appeared as recently as 2011’s The Muppets, singing in The Muppet Show theme song and interacting with Sweetums backstage, and 2014’s Muppets Most Wanted, again in the Muppet Show arches.

Geri and the Atrics are a very random, nutty, unique act, but a surprisingly pleasant one, making music, bringing laughter, and loving their work. In other words, they are exactly what the Muppets stand for. While some would be quick to ascribe old age as an obstruction to rocking and rolling, Geri and the Atrics would quickly prove anyone with that assumption wrong.

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

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