Well, it’s Labor Day, the traditional time of the annual MDA Telethon. Videos have surfaced lately in memory of the recently deceased Jerry Lewis (R.I.P). Among them is my new favorite rendition of “Bein’ Green” (with all due respect to Ray Charles, this one actually features Kermit). It’s from the 2001 telethon.
I also love the bit at the end where Wayne Brady fanboys over Kermit saying his name.
I KNOW, RIGHT?!?
Getting slightly off-topic, I had the opportunity to fangirl over Wayne Brady once. Back in the late ’90s or early ’00s, Wayne Brady actually came to my hometown–my podunky hometown in South Dakota–to do a show. It was a show that had been booked quite a few years in advance–before he became famous doing “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?”–but he still honored his previous engagement, which I thought was really classy of him. So my younger brother and I scored tickets and went to see the show, and it was just fabulous. It was an evening of “Whose Line” style improv, and he made a point at the beginning of saying that he wanted to keep things family-friendly because there were kids in the audience. Then, in the very first game, he asked for suggestions of genres of movies and some wiseacre yelled out “Porno!” And Wayne shamed him by finding a little girl in the audience, sitting in an aisle seat, and saying, “Hello, little girl. How are you? [then, to the wiseacre] Do you feel proud of yourself, sir, yelling out ‘porno’ when there are little kids in the audience?” There were no more inappropriate suggestions after that.
After the show, my brother and I saw some friends who were also in the audience, and somebody got the idea that we should slip out in the hallway where Wayne Brady would be exiting the building. So we did. I thought it was not the best idea, but I gave in to peer pressure. And Wayne did come down that hallway on his way out, and it looked as though he was kind of bewildered to see a bunch of awkwardly beaming white people standing expectantly in the hallway, but he just said something like, “Have a good night, folks,” as he walked by.
Anyway, my point is that seeing Kermit and Wayne Brady interact with each other makes me double-fangirl.
Getting back to the telethon, there was another number from the same year; Kermit singing “I Got My Mind Set On You” with the Snowths. This is appropriate, because my mind is set on Kermit pretty much all the time, especially now:
Okay, so it’s not a perfect vocal performance. But that’s what I like about it. Sometimes true art is in the imperfections. The imperfections can reveal the craftsmanship that goes into it.
For example, if you have a piece of furniture that was made by a machine, it will be perfect and look exactly like every other piece of furniture that was made by the same machine. Compare that to a similar piece of furniture that was made by hand, and you see the irregularities and inconsistencies that reveal the human touch. Machine-made furniture is serviceable and affordable; hand-made furniture is a work of art.
Much of the time, Muppet music is recorded by the Muppet performers beforehand, and the Muppets lip-sync during the performance itself. I understand why that is often necessary, especially in situations where they are doing multiple takes. But I love it when the Muppets sing live, because that seems so much more authentic, and it’s the little mistakes or ad-libs that reveal that it’s being done live, that reveals the craftsmanship that’s going into it.