Empire Australasia - May 2018

(Kiana) #1

that people talk about, at night when
it’s all lit up. It was really raining that
night and I still remember seeing the
relections of lights in the puddles.

Muppet HQ was on 53rd Street. What was
it like there?
Tiny. It was above a restaurant bar called
Chuck’s Composite. We were one light
up and basically had two rooms and
a patio for the four of us. But we didn’t get
on each other’s nerves. That’s the thing
about Jim — he somehow picked people
that really got along. Right from the
beginning, we were always trying to crack
each other up while we were performing.
I tended to be the one to start it all. I was
deeply involved in that part of it.

When it came to creating characters, is it
fair to say there’s a bit of your own
personality in every one?
Yeah, I was fortunate to be able to let
different sides of myself out that I wouldn’t
allow out normally in my social life. If
you started acting like Animal at work,
you’d be ired. But me, I get paid for it.

Which part of you inspired
Cookie Monster?
Oh, I love cookies. [Laughs] He’s totally
obsessive and we all have some obsession
sometimes. He was actually just a regular
monster in the irst year, until we did a
quiz show onSesame Streetwith Guy
Smiley. Cookie Monster was a contestant
and he won, so he had a choice between a
new car, a Hawaiian vacation and $10,000
in cash, or a cookie. And he chose the
cookie. From that moment, he was the
Cookie Monster. He’s wonderful to do.

Tough on the voice, though, surely?
He was the hardest one. He requires
a tremendous amount of energy. As
a matter of fact, I hurt my throat once and
went to see a specialist in Boston. I told
him what I did and he said, “Well, don’t
do that.” [Laughs] I said, “I have to!”
I learned eventually how to get the same
explosive energy without hurting myself.

Were there characters you got sick of?
There were some Muppets that just didn’t
work. We called them dead Muppets.
I have a couple. [Practical joker] Harvey
Kneeslapper was a Muppet that was
a lousy idea — my idea. He was not
worthy of being on air.

Miss Piggy was one that did work. What
do you like most about her?
Her courage. Because she knows she’s
a bit overweight. She knows she can’t
sing. She knows she can’t tell jokes. She’s
aware of all this. But she’s going to do ❯

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