29 Comments

  1. Argyle Sweater reminds me that several decades ago the Seattle zoo got a pair of new wildebeests. They named them Weather and Sports, so that the ads on the sides of buses read “Come see our gnus, Weather and Sports.”

    There is, of course, also this:

    And the Muppets version:

  2. On the “hare” one, I’m minded of the old MAD comics parody of Disney characters in which someone yells “Hey, Donald, duck !” and when he assumes they’re just using his full name, he gets hit by a brick. After this happens a couple of times and Mickey Mouse then calls out to him “Hey, Donald Duck” Donald grabs Mickey, interrogates him re names vs. verbs and general grammar etc., is relieved to learn Mickey *was* just using his full name — and then gets hit by a brick again, since, as Mickey tried to explain, he was *intending* to shoult “Hey, Donald Duck — duck!”

  3. @ Shrug – In a Looney Tunes cartoon that I recently saw (on DVD), Bugs Bunny ran into Daffy and greeted him with “What’s up, Duck?

  4. Adrea: No. The Muppet Show was aimed at a slightly older audience. Later Muppet productions got darker and slightly edgier.

    And referring to the “duck” pun:

    And surely there must be a “what’s gnu with you?” pun somewhere I can’t find.

    It would appear the original version of “The Gnu” the Muppets fairly faithfully covered was composed and performed by the British duo Flanders and Swann.

  5. > The Muppet Show was aimed at a slightly older audience.

    I’d say much more than “slightly”. I think the creators of The Muppet Show would have loved to have it accepted that their target audience was television watching adults, but there is simply no way you are going to have a comedy show about puppets and not have people assume its aimed for children (unless you are purposely going for ironic shock value).

    Anyway hunting trophies on the Muppet Show is hardly surprising or eyebrow raising.

  6. As far as intended audiences, “The Muppet Show” is to “Sesame Street” as “The Flintstones” is to “The Huckleberry Hound Show.”
    As far as actual audiences, the analogy probably still holds.

  7. I just remember everyone in my family thoroughly enjoying the Muppet Show when it still aired. My mom praised its gentle humor.

  8. Decades ago, there was a Sally Bananas comic strip on a Sunday that was full of gnu puns. I once went so far as to try finding it at a library, going through the microfilms of newspapers, but I gave up after several hours.

  9. “As far as intended audiences, “The Muppet Show” is to “Sesame Street” as “The Flintstones” is to “The Huckleberry Hound Show.””

    Oh, well, now it’s my turn to switch the tables. All may life I had assumed The Flintstones was obviously a show for children and considered it on par possibly even less sophisticated than Huckleberry Hound and I was very surprised when I learned it was originally prime time and was consider sophisticated and intelligent.

    I hear there was an episode of the Muppets (2015) show were Miss Piggy has a wardrobe malfunction.

  10. @ Arthur – I had never heard of that strip before (not surprising, since Barsotti appears to have stopped producing it in 1973), but when I tried searching for “sally bananas gnu”, the first thing that showed up was this.

  11. Actually, The Muppet Show was quite popular among adults during its original run. It was somewhat of a nostalgic format for adults in the late 70s and early 80s who grew up listening to variety programs on the radio and watching Milton Berle and Sid Caesar on TV. And, not incidentally, had watched the Muppets on TV in commercials and on Ed Sullivan and Jimmy Dean and such.

    (Younger Boomers, whose idea of puppetry came from Mister Rogers and H.R. Pufnstuff and Sesame Street perhaps less so.)

  12. The Flintstones may have been prime time (I believe it was the first cartoon series created specifically for prime time), but I don’t think it was ever considered sophisticated or intelligent.

  13. @ guero – No more (nor less) than “The Honeymooners”, upon which “The Flintstones” was largely based (whether or not this was intentional is a separate question).

  14. Well, that just proves my point, unless you think “One of these days, Alice, POW!, right in the kisser!” to be high art. But, speaking of Art (see what I did there?), I do consider Ed Norton to be one of the classic comedy characters of television.

  15. @ guero – Both shows were very popular in their day, but that’s not always a reliable indicator for quality, and I don’t think they have aged that well(*). I doubt that either one would succeed with modern (non-geezer) audiences.
    P.S. (*) – I must admit that I have never seen a whole episode of “The Honeymooners”, just scattered clips. If I add up all time times I’ve viewed “Back to the Future”, the sum total of the brief scenes included there probably represent a majority of the total minutes that I’ve ever watched.

  16. “Younger Boomers, whose idea of puppetry came from Mister Rogers and H.R. Pufnstuff and Sesame Street perhaps less so”

    Um…. younger boomers would have been teenagers when the Muppet Show and not really in need for nostalgia yet. We definitely recognized the muppets as the puppets from Sesame Street but we always knew the Sesame Street Muppets had as advanced humor and was the reason we *kept* watching Sesame Street well into Junior High School.

  17. “no love for the Great Space Coaster with “No gnus is good gnus with Gary Gnu”?”

    None whatsoever. It had canned laughter and commercials and wasn’t remotely funny or even amusing; the best bits were the La Linea cartoons.

    Elmo no like!

  18. @ larK – About a year ago I picked up a complete (3-DVD) set of “La Linea” cartoons. It was worth every penny, although if I were to do it again, I would order the original version from Italy, instead of the repackaged German version.

  19. We older Boomers saw Muppets early on, at least 10 years before Sesame Street, but they hadn’t really gelled into an ensemble cast the way they did later.

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