Muppet Show: Interesting Skits
In the article The Muppet Show: Nostalgia I talked about how The Muppet Show managed to insert a huge amount of whimsy into performing in a theatrical setting. Starting from 1976 The Muppet Show had a somewhat predictable formula in its episodes. The Muppets would do an episode with some celebrity, there would be different performances, and sometime the celebrity would participate. And while the celebrities were a major aspect as to how The Muppet Show became popular in the first place, what made The Muppet Show something that people of all ages could watch were the skits. Because The Muppet Show was a show where the entertainment could appeal to all age groups, most of the material had to be both well-known or relatively modern. For example, one interesting skit that was done in The Muppet Show that could appeal to fans of classical dialogue was a more comedic interpretation of the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. For fans of modern music, one interesting skit was the song In the Navy by Village People interpreted as a song involving vikings going on a raid against a village. And for skits involving an actual celebrity, one interesting skit involved Elton John performing his song Crocodile Rock, but with the addition of actual singing crocodiles. The Muppet Show made watching the theatrics of traditional acting for an extended amount of time, and one good reason why was because its material was actually entertaining. And hilarious if one were to know the contexts of some of the skits.
Working in theater means being able to act in different genres. In The Muppet Show, since the actors were puppets, getting characters to act out certain scenes was fairly simple. So in a rendition of Lewis Carroll's poem Jaberwocky, The Muppet Show used a cast of weird looking Muppets to recite verses from said poem. One interesting part of this skit was that some of the background Muppets were arguably weirder than the usual Muppets that were featured regularly on The Muppet Show. Which makes sense for readers of Lewis Carroll's work because Jaberwocky actually was a short poem featured in the 1871 novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. And according to Kermit the Frog, this skit would be weird by even The Muppet Show's standards. Thus, this meant that this ski could use some surreal aesthetics. Like the Muppets that were used to recite the first verses of Jaberwocky. And as for the use of named Muppets, the mainstream Muppets in this act were involve Rowlf, one of the more musical Muppets and Scooter, who played the roles of father and son respectively. Eventually Scooter, as the son, got to say a few lines for himself. Suddenly, the titular Jabberwocky appeared. And this particular depiction of the Jaberwocky was actually somewhat humorous. Inevitably, there was a fight scene that ended with the Jabberwocky's head decapitated, but with the Jabberwocky alive. And by the end of this skit everybody agreed that this was one of the weirdest things to be acted out in The Muppet Show.
During The Muppet Show's run on television it was able to take modern day forms of entertainment and interpret them into unique settings. One particular case was using a song by the disco group Village People and putting it in a skit involving something completely opposite to said song. The thing about the band Village People was that their gimmick was that they emphasized certain homosexual stereotypes in their songs. Which could not be copied in The Muppet Show since it was primarily aimed at young children. For this particular skit, The Muppet Show used the song In the Navy in a setting where Muppet vikings decided to raid a village. Humorously, the Swedish Chef, another well-known Muppet, did not like having a group of people who came from the same region as him regarded negatively. At the beginning of the skit it started out relatively tranquil. Until a band of pig viking started singing. And while they were singing In the Navy, the viewer got to see scenes of fighting, singing, and pillaging. Strangely enough, the villagers who were being raided also got to sing. And by the end of this skit the vikings end up succeeding in their raid and escaping with some livestock. Fortunately, it looked like the vikings did not hurt anyone in this skit. But since this was only an act, nobody got hurt. Which also explained why the villagers also joined in the singing while they were being pillaged. And it seemed like the livestock enjoyed being a part of the song as well.
As shown in The Muppet Show: Nostalgia, the celebrities on The Muppet Show were usually part of the shenanigans at certain parts of the episode. Or had an effect on the show as a whole. You had Alice Cooper making the entire theater scary just by his very presence, John Cleese trying to avoid actually being a guest and performing, and Vincent Price made everything a lot more frightening, but hilarious. So when the singer Elton John appeared on The Muppet Show in 1977, a fan at this time would have expected to see something flamboyant. Especially in light of his coming-out as bisexual in 1976. Which might explain the choice of costume that Elton John wore during a skit where he sang Crocodile Rock while being accompanied by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem in some random swamp. It was feathery, there were shiny bits to it, and it was very colorful. Also interesting was the inclusion of singing crocodiles in the skit. And for some more surreal aesthetics the idea of a celebrity playing one of his more popular songs with puppets and singing with them must have been shocking for older viewers. But The Muppet Show was a comedic show so having something for the viewers to view as silly makes sense. Especially since by the end of Elton John's song, the crocodiles decided to pull him down into the water and got him soaked. Of course, this was all a part of the act so nobody seemed concerned
The Muppet Show was able to gain a huge audience by performing various acts of different genres. And while the addition of actual celebrities in some of the skits were fairly hilarious, the skits that starred the actual muppets were arguably more interesting. Mostly because seeing a more surreal interpretation of various forms of theatrics would be appealing to younger viewers. Like having some of the more intellectual members of The Muppet Show act out poems and commenting on how weird some of the material was compared to previous acts. Another interesting aspect when it came to muppets acting out material made by different people was the chance to make one thing work for a different situation. Like using a Village People song in a setting where some muppets acted-out a viking raid. But just because the Muppets could do acts by themselves did not mean that celebrities were not excluded. Some of the celebrities were interesting, too.