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And then we come to February 18, 1968 for yet another Ed Sullivan Show appearance, this time with a sketch called “Business Business” that is essentially composed of a group of abstract, tube-shaped Muppets, two of whom methodically repeat the phrase, “Business business,” with serious expressions on their faces, eventually joined by two others who instead chant kinder, gentler phrases about happiness and peace and beauty and art. As the sketch progresses, these happier-go-lucky characters fight and eventually defeat the business characters.


But then, once left to their own devices, their own words start evolving to harder, colder ones, as they begin to realize that in order to maintain feelings of peace, health, and security, they will have to become a bit greedy as well. By the end, they’re repeating the words, “Business business,” as well, an abstract but brilliant illustration of how even the most idealistic utopias built on the purest notions eventually seem to become what they despise–an ingenious early glimpse at the truth bombs Jim could drop under the guise of the simplest puppet sketches. You can watch it here.


"I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face"

“I’ve Grown Accustomed to Your Face”

Two months later, on April 21st, we come to another Ed Sullivan appearance, a recreation of a sketch that Jim performed numerous times previously, once the previous year on Ed Sullivan, and which The Henson Company historian, Karen Falk, traces all the way back to Sam and Friends. And it certainly feels like a Sam and Friends sketch, and not only because Kermit appears in it with Yorick.


It’s also because it features Kermit in drag–a lovely blonde wig, to be exact–lip synching to Rosemary Clooney’s version of “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her/Your Face” from My Fair Lady. Kermit believes he’s singing to a little creature with a sweet little face, but as the song progresses, it’s revealed to be Yorick wearing a mask, which he devours, shortly before encroaching upon Kermit’s personal space and eventually devouring him, leg-first, as well. It’s an absolutely hilarious bit, even funnier than “Glow Worm,” particularly due to how Jim manages to convey the sheer panic on Kermit’s face as Yorick approaches, as well as his brilliantly timed attempts to sidle away from and push him away, never breaking the lip sync all the while. While the Ed Sullivan version is no longer available online, from what I can find, you can watch the sketch, as performed on The Dick Cavett Show in 1971 here.


Also in early 1968, Jim produced a documentary for NBC’s Experiment in Television anthology series–which, true to its name, would air experimental hours of television–which aired on April 19, 1968, to great critical acclaim. Entitled Youth ’68: Everything’s Changing…Or Maybe It Isn’t, it was, according to TIME‘s original listing “a visual and sound montage juxtaposing outspoken opinions on love, religion, drugs and war with the sights and sounds of popular music and dance.” I wasn’t able to see the complete documentary and had to make do with a 2 1/2 clip posted online by the Henson Co. And my main reaction is that it made me want to see the entire thing. The full film features interviews with average people, including hippies, college kids, and the “establishment” folk, alongside more prominent people from the era, including musicians such as Jefferson Airplane and Mamas & the Papas band members. This short clip alone features Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin and “Mama” Cass Elliot and paints a very intriguing picture of the era.


It also features some early examples of music video-style editing and special effects that might seem primitive now but foreshadow the MTV era by around 15 years, much as Time Piece did a few years earlier. And as someone who wrote his Masters thesis on the musical, Hair, and recently buzzed through and adored Mad Men, I found it particularly fascinating to watch this footage of the actual youth of the time, rebelling against and fearing the “sell-out” adults. Speaking of which, it’s interesting to juxtapose that with the prescience of “Business, Business,” in terms of what often happens to young, rebellious youth and certainly did to a large portion of the hippies in the ’70s and ’80s:



And one more for today, an Easy Bake Oven commercial starring an actual human little girl and a little yellow Muppet bird who would later be used on Sesame Street as Little Bird, who sometimes appeared as a counterpoint/friend to Big Bird. The ad is particularly fun due to the special tricks that allow Little Bird to fly around the room, pop out of a pie, and at one point have a bunch of little cakes appear to fly into his mouth. Incidentally, I also happen to love how the little girl’s pronunciation of “coo-kie” foreshadows Cookie Monster’s. I wonder if he got it from her…



And come back on Monday for another graphic novel adaptation of an unproduced Henson work, this time what could have been a terrific Thanksgiving Muppet TV special (which would have been the first-ever Muppet holiday special at that point) called The Musical Monsters of Turkey Hollow, which, alas, sounds like it could have been amazing.


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