Michael Wermuth – Forgetful Jones is a great character. He’s one of Richard Hunt’s best characters from Sesame Street. So today, let’s honor the best segments with Forgetful Jones. Here are the top five Forgetful Jones segments.
5. Brushing Teeth
Forgetful’s first segment is a good one, establishing Forgetful Jones, Clementine, and Buster. It takes place at night, where the three are camping out, and Clementine tells Forgetful that he forgot to do something important before going to bed. After Clementine supplies clues that he has to brush his teeth, Forgetful remembers that he has to brush Buster’s teeth, and when Clementine reminds him that he is supposed to brush HIS teeth, Forgetful misses the point a little, remarking that since he can’t brush his and Buster’s teeth, they’ll cooperate and brush each other’s teeth.
This is a great segment with a funny punchline. Particularly funny is the fact that Buster is capable of brushing Forgetful Jones’ teeth when Buster supposedly needs Forgetful to bush his teeth for him. I’ve also noticed Buster’s attitude about brushing Forgetful’s teeth being different in the original and remake, where in the original he sounds more cheerful about it, while in the remake he sounds a little grumpy.
It’s the classic segment where Kermit directs Forgetful Jones in a movie where Forgetful sings “Oklahoma”, only he keeps getting the first part of the word wrong, singing such incorrect lyrics as “IIIIII-klahoma!” Eventually, he does sing it right, but then Kermit’s assistant makes them cut – they spent so much time with the other takes that it is now time for lunch (so soon after they had started? And she couldn’t wait until after this take was finished?). Interestingly, while Kermit has his freak-outs over Forgetful’s mistakes, he seems to take having to cut the moment Forgetful finally gets it right very well (much better than Forgetful does, as he cries that he got it right).
It’s a wonder that Kermit would cast Forgetful, known for forgetting things. But still, Kermit’s freak-outs is funny, as is the random reveal that a stack of hay is alive. For awhile I used to think this segment was overrated, as it’s the Forgetful Jones segment that everybody talks about in interviews, and the only one to have been released on video twice. But it’s still funny, and while I may have thought it was overrated a few years ago, it’s still great, as if it deserves to be overrated. I think Kevin Clash once said in a MuppetCast interview that Richard Hunt actually disliked the character until this segment was done (and it came ten years after the character was introduced).
3. Train Station
This segment finds Forgetful Jones at the train station, trying to remember why he’s there, as Clementine tries to get him to remember to get on the train in time. Forgetful insists on remembering on his own, and I feel like she should have tried harder this time. It’s not until the moment the train leaves that Forgetful remembers that he’s there to go on a trip, and runs off after the train. One part I particularly like is when it looks like he’s about to remember that he’s going to take the trip, but instead asks how he’s going to take the trip.
2. Kermit’s Telephone Demo
Another pairing with Kermit the Frog, this time Kermit talks about the telephone and needs somebody to assist in showing how to use it. Forgetful Jones shows up, and Kermit senses there’ll be trouble because he never remembers anything. Expecting a call from Maria so a demonstration can be done, Forgetful gets it wrong the first time, but when it rings again, he actually gets it right. But then Kermit does get mad when Forgetful thinks the telephone is called the toaster.
This is the earliest pairing of the two that I know of, but Kermit’s annoyance when Forgetful comes in makes me wonder if they’d appeared together before (could there have been an earlier sketch we just don’t know about? Could Kermit just know him by reputation? Then again, the characters could know each other off-screen).
1. What’s the Name of That Song?
While this song was introduced half a year before this character was and has had so many different performances, this song seems like it should be Forgetful’s signature song (and this version sadly hasn’t been included on any albums). This version finds Forgetful walking into a saloon as Buster plays the piano and asks Forgetful to sing, only he can’t remember the name of the song, asking the title question at the right moments without realizing it. I like when he gets one of the lyrics wrong (“Something, something, cows, or is that birds?”), and when he is told the title of the song, he has a “who’s on first”-style misunderstanding.
Well, that’s my list. There are more that I wanted to include, but didn’t because… Well… I forgot why!