It’s no secret. I love the muppets.
I recently tried to convey my utter adoration for these goofy little bunches of fabric and fuzz, but I couldn’t quite put into words why I have as much love for these guys as I do.
I mean, yes, there’s plenty to love. They’re hilarious, clever, and irreverent. But there are plenty of other groups of people who are equally clever but don’t garner the same cult following that these goofy little critters do. How many comedy groups have A-list celebrities begging them for one liner cameos?
Nobody just ‘likes’ the Muppets. You either don’t get them at all, or you place them in the same squishy part of your heart traditionally reserved for grandparents and puppies.
Sure it could be nostalgia, but I certainly don’t feel the same way towards Barney the Dinosaur as I do for Fozzie or Kermit. In fact…he kinda scares me now.
Yelch. But anyway.
Here’s my theory. Where I think the real genius of the Muppets lays. They are, at their core, a group of friends who are trying to make art and failing miserably.
Think about it. The Muppet Show predominately took place backstage. There was usually some sort of crisis that Kermit had to fix, those problems would leak into the act, and it would fall apart in some sort of hilarious fashion. Then Waldorf and Statler show up to heckle it, and Kermit shakes his head at the camera.
Dr Bunson Honeydew blows up the stage. Animal bites the guest star. Gonzo makes a hole in the stage wall trying to show Kermit his latest stunt. Everything always goes horribly wrong.
Of course, that never stops them. They’ll get frustrated and Kermit will yell and flail his arms about, but they’ll always get back up and try again. Even when the odds are stacked against them with diva pigs and Evil Kanevil wannabees, they keep going because of their absolute love for their craft and each other. And that’s something that is so recognizable, admirable, and utterly lovable.
Even their movies always acknowledge the “backstage” aspect of their lives. The Muppet Movie, The Muppets, and Muppets Take Manhattan are all about the Muppets trying to make it in Hollywood and facing difficulties. And even movies like The Great Muppet Caper and Muppets: Most Wanted are framed with fantastic opening numbers that remind you that these are just a group of friends throwing together the best show that they can. Which makes gaping plot holes, obvious villains, and fourth wall jokes cheeky and witty rather than cheap and boring.
They’re not just inaccessible pieces of felt with a hand up their ass. They’re our flawed, furry friends. They understand and accept our failings as we accept and cherish theirs.
So if you want a good laugh with a heaping side of the warm fuzzies…
You heard the man.