For nearly 60 years, the Muppets have been entertaining TV
viewers & movie-goers. But what are Kermit & Co. actually like when the
cameras are off?
I recently got the opportunity to find out. Out ahead of tomorrow's release on
"Muppets Most Wanted" on Blu-ray & DVD, the nice folks at Walt
Disney Studios Home Entertainment offered me a unique opportunity. I could pick
any three Muppet characters I liked and then submit questions for them to
I'll be honest here. It was kind of hard to pick which
characters to quiz. But in the end, I thought it would best to start with Jim
Henson's first real break-out character. Which was Rowlf the Dog.
(L to R) Frank Oz, Rowlf the Dog and Jim Henson
Q: They say that every dog has his day. So which day was
your day, Rowlf? Do you recall the specific date?
A: Of course I remember! It was Monday, January 14th 1963. That was the day I made my first appearance
on "The Jimmy Dean Show" on ABC. As I
recall, I worked without a leash.
Q: You were the first true Muppet star. Do you have any
stories that you could share about your time on "The Jimmy Dean Show" back in the
(L to R) Jimmy Dean, Rowlf the Dog and Lassie
A: Oh, Jimmy Dean was great. We were both kind of laid-back,
country guys, so we really hit it off.
Even later in our careers, we had a lot in common: Jimmy went on to selling pork sausage and I
went on to work with a pig. Weird.
Anyway, I think my favorite time was when Jimmy introduced me to Lassie. I still have a crush on her.
Q: A piano-playing dog is kind of an unusual thing. Where
did you learn to "tickle the ivories"?
A: When I was a puppy I grew up in a piano factory. It was inevitable.
Q: "Muppets Most Wanted" was shot on location all over Europe.
Did you have a favorite stop / spot along the way?
A: I loved England,
mostly because I spent so much time there back when we were shooting "The Muppet
Show." Plus, I was able to work off my
tab at the pub by playing piano.
Q: You must be getting up there in dog years, Rowlf? Any
thoughts of retiring?
(L to R) Kermit the Frog, Amy Adams, Walter, Jason Segel and Rowlf the Dog.Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
A: I have a good life. I play piano, tell a few jokes, fetch
the newspaper, take myself for a walk, then curl up on a warm rug and sleep.
I'd retire, but how could you tell the difference?
Next up, I got to talk with my favorite stand-up comic,
Q: How is your mother, Emily Bear, doing these days?
A: She's great! She recently took up skydiving. In fact, she should be dropping in any
minute! Get it? Skydiving? Dropping
in? Okay, looks like I'm going to have
to pull out the good material.
Q: Do you ever hear from your old comedy writer, Gags
A: Gags and I still work together all the time. In fact,
after that first answer bombed, I'm having him write a very funny joke for
later in the interview. Watch for it.
Q: Whatever became of the Studebaker that you & Kermit
drove in "The Muppet Movie" ?
A: Are you interested!?
I understand Mad Man Mooney is still trying to sell it.
Q: You, Walter and Animal travel an awfully long way in
"Muppets Most Wanted" in your quest to go rescue Kermit from that gulag. What was
the toughest part of that trek?
A: Finding comedy clubs. I've got to work every night or my
act gets stale.
Q: Seeing as you're such a seasoned veteran of stand-up,
what advice do you have for young comics that are just starting out in the
A: Never give up. Even when they're booing, keep going. But move around a lot; a moving target is
harder to hit. Oh, and work with a
writer who turns in his jokes before the interview is over. Gags!!!! Where are you!!!!!
And then finally ... Well, I just had to try and talk with
the one Muppet character that no one can understand: The Swedish Chef. For the
sake of intelligibility, the following interview with The Swedish Chef has been
translated by the Muppets resident translator, Sven Abstrøøs
Q: You've been part of the Muppet family for almost 40 years
now. What to date -- has been your most challenging culinary creation?
A: Vøørdee skéerdee vin dee Chickeé un deé Baskée!
in the basket. You have no idea how tough it is to hit a three point shot with
Q: What does every great cook need in their kitchen? Besides
- of course -- a cannon.
A: Snøøder bløønderbüss un dee flitzee-flitter un dee
blunderbuss, a flyswatter and a lobster smacker. In that order.
Q: I'm assuming that you must make really authentic Swedish
meatballs. What's your secret ingredient?
A: Føølder lütefîskee un de tennee-fwackee, yøøbetcha!
Translation: To serve
authentic Swedish meatballs, you need lutefisk and a tennis racket, you betcha.
Q: While you were in Europe shooting
"Muppets Most Wanted," did you visit any great restaurants and/or confer with any
other world famous chefs?
A: Ja, de finker dü cuisses de grenouille, uh oh dee Kerm
Translation: I visited several famous chefs, but all they
wanted to talk about was how to prepare frog's legs...which made Kermit very
Q: Given your obvious skill with linguistics, I just have to
ask---is the proper pronunciation Tomayto or Tomahhto? Likewise Potayto or
A: Ver skeer dee høøskee børk! børk! børk!
call the whole thing børk! børk! børk!
This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post's Entertainment page on Sunday, August 10, 2014