Posts Tagged ‘Elaine Stritch’

The Muppet Show Season 6 Pt. 1

April 15, 2021

This started out as a Top 11 list of performers that I wish had been on The Muppet Show before it ended in 1981. The project has since expanded a bit and I decided to write a few ideas on my fantasy Season 6 of The Muppet Show.

S06E01 Elaine Stritch

Long before she was “just” Jack Donaghy’s mother, Elaine Stritch was a true legend. She started her Broadway career on stage in 1946 with a role in Loco. She got her big break when she understudied for Ethel Merman in Call Me Madam at the same time as she was starring in Pal Joey. Before that, she had already gotten into television in 1948. Both careers flourished and she became one of the venerated names in theater circles especially. She could sing, she could joke, and she could do drama. She was a consummate performer. In her later years, she proved she could basically be a stand-up comedian doing a one-woman show called Elaine Stritch at Liberty.

Her self-deprecating humor proves that she does not take herself too seriously and would have been a great fit for The Muppet Show aesthetic. She was also consistently working in England at the time which is where the show was filmed. Her schedule was probably pretty tight but I am sure a deal could have been worked out to allow her to film an episode.

Cold Open: Scooter comes in to give Elaine her 25 second warning. Elaine is not sure about her makeup artist as Bunsen and Beaker aim and fire a “makeup cannon”.

Guest Arc: Miss Piggy is made to be Elaine’s understudy. She pays Gonzo to sabotage Stritch but keeps getting hurt by his efforts.

Guest Acts:

“Zip” (Rodgers/Hart) with Rowlf on Grand Piano and the Electric Mayhem
“It’s Today” (Jerry Herman) solo with Gonzo’s traps going off
“Here’s to the Ladies Who Lunch” (Sondheim) – A duet with Ms. Piggy

S06E02 Christopher Lee

Since they already had Vincent Price on the show, I am shocked that they did not contact the man who was basically his British counterpart, Christopher Lee. Like Price, Lee exuded a powerful aura of charisma that made him perfect for roles like Dracula, Scaramanga, and Saruman. In fact, he still holds the record of playing Dracula the most times on film at 10. He lent his rich, deep voice to voice-over work starting with a German dub of a Danish animated film. He continued to work in animation and eventually added video games to his resume. He was more than just an actor as he could also sing. He sang for the soundtracks of movies he starred in and he would later put out several metal albums that often mixed opera with heavy metal.

He would have been a natural for The Muppet Show and his deep baritone would have been a change from the usual higher-pitched guests. He has the ability to go dark and spooky (like Price or Zero Mostel) but also the abilities needed for comedy.

Cold Open: Christopher Lee arrives backstage and doorman Pops quickly hides from him. Lee remarks on how odd it is for backstage to be so empty.

Guest Arc: The Muppets are afraid of Lee backstage but he does not do anything scary. Eventually, he does The Monster Mash to give them what they want.

Guest Acts:

“Man of La Mancha” (Leigh/Darion) with rat townspeople and Rizzo as his Sancho Panza.
“Ghostriders in the Sky” (Johnny Cash) with Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers
“The Monster Mash” (Bobby Pickett) with assorted monsters

S06E03 Richard Pryor

Richard Pryor began his career as a stand-up comedian in New York City in 1963. He performed alongside luminaries like Nina Simone and Bob Dylan. He started as a clean comic and achieved some success, appearing on Ed Sullivan, The Tonight Show, and Merv Griffin. He had regular gigs in Las Vegas. However, he was not creatively fulfilled because he decided to evolve his act. He started lacing it with profanity but also being more honest and with higher energy. In the 1970s he was writing for television shows like Sanford and Son and The Flip Wilson Show. In 1972 he appeared in his first film (Lady Sings The Blues). He co-wrote comedy hit Blazing Saddles and had several memorable movies alongside Gene Wilder. He continued to star in movies, proving how brilliant of a comedic actor he could be.

Pryor’s manic energy made him a great candidate for The Muppet Show. His very expressive face also lent itself to delivering hilarious reactions, something that would serve him well among jokesters like Frank Oz and Jim Henson. While he was not really known for it in his later career, he actually started his career briefly as a singer. He had a jazzy sound and a good voice and it would have been amazing for him to be able to show that off again. He also had a cameo in The Muppet Movie.

Cold Open: Kermit is dealing with a packed backstage full of people who want to meet Richard Pryor. He clears them out in time for Pryor to arrive. Kermit meets Pryor and asks him to keep it clean.

Guest Arc: Kermit is nervous because of Pryor’s reputation as a dirty comic. He tries to keep Fozzie, Robin, and Sam away from him but in the end, Pryor proves he’s a professional.

Guest Acts:

Pryor and the Electric Mayhem try to teach Fozzy and Gonzo to be cool
“Having a Party” (Sam Cooke) with Janice, The Electric Mayhem, and a crowd
Stand-up (Clean)


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