Written by Abi Humber Tuesday, 29 November 2011 16:04
Although I’m not quite old enough to remember the debut of TV’s “The Muppet Show” and its regular programming, I have seen “A Muppet Christmas Carol,” “Muppet Treasure Island” and “Sesame Street” episodes countless times throughout my childhood. And, after going to see the new Muppet movie twice in the past week, I think I have a fairly solid understanding of the Muppets and their various personalities.
As I tend to do with most movies and television shows over which I become temporarily obsessed, I daydream about which characters are most like the people in my life.
So far, this has happened with “Lost,” “Weeds,” “The OC,” and, most recently “30 Rock.” Much to my dismay, I am realizing that my chaotic life bears an uncanny resemblance to Liz Lemon, who is a complete (but lovable!) train wreck.... But that’s another issue.
Before I get started, I’d like to make it perfectly clear that I have made each of these comparisons in an entirely positive light. The traits I love the most about some of my favorite humans happen to be the traits that various Muppets embody. In fact, this new connection (a “rainbow connection”? OK, bad Muppet joke...) has led me to love both parties all the more.
If any of my friends could be of Elmo-quality enthusiasm and cuteness, it would be Becky Steketee. Elmo is one of Sesame Street’s most endearing personalities. He is patient, imaginative, adorable and asks lots and lots of questions. He is characterized by his goofy, high-pitched laugh, which children have come to adore (and, after the invention of the Tickle-Me-Elmo doll, parents may have come to dread).
Becky also s patient, imaginative and adorable. Her wide-open heart and warm, welcoming personality make her one of my favorite Hillsboroans. She asks deep questions about life and isn’t afraid to explore the many different answers. She, like Elmo, has a big, happy laugh that ignites laughter in everyone around her. I suppose the major difference here is that I’d feel extremely creepy owning a “Tickle-Me-Becky” doll....
Andy Shewey and Mr. Bob Woelk remind me of Statler and Waldorf, the two old men who sit in the balcony and constantly heckle all of the Muppets. Now, remember. I said this was a positive comparison. Some of my fondest memories of Mr. Woelk involve him cracking jokes in the journalism room, usually at the expense of a dear student, but always in good taste.
Andy is one of my longtime hecklers, but I really do (usually) love it. He loves to make sassy comments about my personality flaws, but every bit of grief he gives me comes from a place of good-natured humor, not ridicule.
In the same way that Statler and Waldorf’s comments are perfectly timed and add yet another humorous layer to the Muppet world, I feel Mr. Woelk and Andy’s brand of humor has contributed to the fondness with which I regard my life in Hillsboro.
It didn’t take long for me to identify my father as Big Bird. Big Bird is one of Sesame Street’s most important characters, and my dad has played a central role in my life even after I left home. Big Bird is known for his wide-eyed wonder of the world, and that’s exactly how I see my dad.
Both Big Bird and Papa Humber make friends easily, are accepting of people’s differences and ask lots of questions. Big Bird once said, “I guess it’s better to just be who you are. Turns out people like you better that way, anyway.”
That phrase nearly perfectly epitomizes every piece of advice I’ve ever received from my dad in my 19 (almost 20!) years of living. Dad always encourages me to be authentic and honest, even if that means admitting I’m embarrassingly “messy” and will always be a work-in-progress.
My mom would definitely be Grover. Characterized by his fuzzy blue exterior and contraction-free speech pattern, Grover has been a longtime fan favorite. He is silly, adorable, and hilarious—much like my mother. If Grover also had an overwhelmingly generous, kind, nurturing, and hospitable side, he’d be a Muppet clone of Mama H. Can’t you just hear her say, in Grover’s voice, “Heeeeeeeello, there!”?
I’ve given a lot of thought to who my brother, Jacob, would be. At different stages of his life, Jacob has exemplified traits similar to many Muppets. He is goofy, occasionally scatterbrained, thoughtful, has an enormous laugh, and really, truly cares about people.
With some hesitation, I will say Jacob is Gonzo. The hook-nosed monster always has pure, innocent intentions and gallant dreams that never seem to pan the way he plans, due to one hiccup or another. Gonzo is wacky and proud of it, performing strange stunts with even stranger twists (like eating a tire while “Flight of the Bumblebee” serves as a dramatic soundtrack). I can totally see Jacob pulling a stunt like this during one of his seizing bouts of goofiness, although perhaps he’d choose to ingest something less rubbery.
It may seem silly, but the time I’ve taken to re-imagine some of my favorite people as beloved furry monsters has reminded me of the pride and appreciation I have for each of these humans.
While my friends and family are obviously much more complex than their fuzzy little counterparts, associating them with my favorite troupe of entertainers has been an interesting exercise in “counting my blessings,” and a good way to pass the time while I digest embarrassingly large amounts of Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing and green bean casserole.