Fan Week ’17 – Muppet Fan Testimonial: Amy Banks

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Amy Banks – Like Kermit the Frog, I too grew up in a swamp. Also like Kermit, I had big dreams of leaving the swamp to accomplish great things in life. It’s arguable that Kermit went a lot further on his soul satisfying journey than I have (yet), but he has been my inspiration in every adventure I’ve had. I’m still looking for my rainbow connection, but thanks to Kermit’s constant encouragement and infectious joie de vivre, I feel I am well on my way to discovering it. Growing up with Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and every Muppet movie made in the 70s and 80s on constant loop (upon my insistence, naturally) I gleaned everything I needed to know about life and most of those lessons came directly from Kermit himself. For example: gather your tribe of weirdos and make your dreams happen together; the show must go on, always; it’s fine to have multiple careers (like Kermit I have worked as a reporter, waiter, writer, teacher… the list goes on and on…as you pursue your goals); bicycling is good for the soul (but beware of steamrollers); and sometimes the most irritating person you know will turn out to be your life partner.

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Kermit also taught me that life isn’t always easy, but goals are worth working hard for. As a journalist on Sesame Street, Kermit faced all kinds of bizarre complications in his job. Most often interviewing story book subjects for his News Flash reporting gig, things never went off without a hitch. He always began with a cheerful, “Hi-ho, Kermit the frog here,” before wackiness ensued. Remember the time Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall? Kermit followed the story as all the king’s horses re-assembled the mouthy egg, only to accidentally knock him back off the wall to his doom as he interviewed him. Embarrassing. Poor Kermit. But it didn’t stop him from reporting the news, and the episode taught me perseverance that I used repeatedly in my career interviewing local politicians and other assorted people of questionable intent. I also learned the word, “recapitulate” from that episode. And one time as a bloated corpse was being removed from a home without air conditioning in the 100+ degree summer heat, I accidentally barfed on the coroner’s shoes as I interviewed him; I channeled Kermit and kept going with my story like any green professional reporter would. Thank you, Kermit.

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Do you remember when Kermit was a director? Forgetful Jones and Gladys the Cow were troublesome actors indeed; casting for Goldilocks and The Three Bears nearly drove poor Kermit batty. And do you remember when Grover would come to Kermit’s house and try to sell him stuff a frog would never use (toothbrushes and toothpaste for example) Frustrating. Basically, Kermit had to deal with a lot of irritating, self-serving and just plain crazy “people” on Sesame Street, and sometimes he went a little bonkers from it all. The thing he seemed happiest to do on the show (or maybe it was the least daunting thing he did) was interview children. He always had a gentle voice and hugs to go around. He was my green hero, the voice of reason, the one who never gave up fighting for his objectives.

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In The Muppet Movie (1979), Kermit chases his Hollywood dreams whilst being pursued by the despicable Doc Hopper; having just graduated with my MFA in screenwriting, I feel as though I am on the same quest. I have gathered my tribe of weirdos and am working joyfully towards the goal of entertaining the masses with my fluky brand of merriment (thankfully without Doc Hopper in pursuit). And thanks to 1981’s The Great Muppet Caper, I still dream of traveling to London in a baggage hold with Gonzo and Fozzie and staying in a crummy hostel a la the Happiness Hotel. Oh, and solving a mystery! And writing about it! The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) saw the gang, newly graduated from college, attempt, fail and then succeed at producing a show on Broadway. In it Kermit and his pals face dire rejection after dire rejection but they – together – keep the spark alive. Life lesson: friendship is priceless; friends will take you through the hard times and friends will help you make your dreams come true (even if you temporarily lose your memory and become a boring ad writer). Again, thank you, Kermit.

So as an adult who no longer lives in a swamp but is still chasing her rainbow connection, I turn to my childhood hero, Kermit, for the courageous inspiration and guidance I need to navigate the obstacles. He truly is the gleaming green icon we all need right now to plod through the minefield of adulthood and achieve the impossible dreams we all have. In Kermit’s own words (thank you, Jim Henson), “Life’s like a movie, write your own ending. Keep believing, keep pretending.”

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