At the Dance was a recurring sketch seen frequently during the first season of The Muppet Show, and less regularly in subsequent seasons. The segment featured an elegant ballroom with pairs of Muppets dancing and exchanging gags.
"At the Dance" was similar to the Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In cocktail party segments. Its Muppet antecedents can be traced to the ball sequence in the special Hey Cinderella!, where the main characters told jokes with their partners. "At the Dance" was first featured in The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence where the show cut to the dance sequence twice during the program.
The dance segment appeared in all five seasons of the show, but was used with decreasing frequency each year. The main theme for "At the Dance" was composed by Joe Raposo for the show.
Over time, the set changed from a blue ballroom to a pink ballroom. The ballroom featured a chandelier, which would then fade into the dancers at the start of each sketch. After the first season, it was also common to see the ceiling of the ballroom. Episode 515 revolved around a dance marathon, with "At The Dance"-style jokes and situations throughout. In that episode, a more detailed set was used.
The Muppet Show 2 featured a newly recorded At the Dance segment, with some of the jokes revolving around the fact that the sketch was heard on a record album.
During the first season, many of the "At the Dance" sketches were generic with assorted jokes and random gags.
- Mildred: I come from a very old family.
- George: Mine's older.
- Mildred: Oh, really? How old?
- George: My family's so old it's been condemned.
- Whatnot Woman: You know, I have a bone to pick with you.
- Rowlf: Too late. I just buried it.
- Woman: You know what really bothers me?
- Blue Frackle: What?
- Woman: Your temper; you're always blowing your top!
- Blue Frackle: Oh yeah? (His head explodes)
After the first season, it became more common for each individual skit to have a theme, in which all or most of the jokes revolve around a similar topic (such as tennis jokes or "there's fly in my soup" jokes).
- Male Whatnot: So, I says to the waiter, I says "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup" and the waiter says "Shhh, not so loud! Everybody will be wanting one!"
- Marvin: So, I said to the waiter, I said "Waiter, there's a fly in my soup" and the waiter said "What's the matter? You ordered a mosquito?"
- Kermit: So, I said to the waiter, I said "Waiter, what's this fly doing in my alphabet soup?" and the waiter said "Standing in for the apostrophe".
Each dancing pair was performed by a single performer (with one puppet on each of their hands). Occasionally the voices would be dubbed by another performer afterwards. George and Mildred ended up as dancing partners in many "At the Dance" segments early on. Frank Oz enjoyed upstaging the other performers with Mildred and George's dancing which got wilder as the first season progressed.
- Mildred: George, do you like circuses?
- George: Oh, I love 'em!
- Mildred: Then, you must love Ringling.
- George: I don't know. I never ringled!
- Mildred: You know, when I was in London, I saw them changing the guards.
- George: Why? Were they dirty?
During the first season, "At the Dance" would, with few exceptions, feature the same couples every week:
- George the Janitor and Mildred
- Zoot and Janice
- Miss Piggy and a male pig.
- A loud shouting lady and one of her partners, two of which were named Herman.
- Rowlf and a female Whatnot
- Animal and a female Whatnot
- An early Dr. Julius Strangepork and a female pig
- The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence
- Episode 101: Juliet Prowse
- Episode 102: Connie Stevens
- Episode 103: Joel Grey
- Episode 104: Ruth Buzzi
- Episode 105: Rita Moreno: A shark is loose in the ballroom.
- Episode 106: Jim Nabors
- Episode 107: Florence Henderson
- Episode 108: Paul Williams
- Episode 109: Charles Aznavour
- Episode 110: Harvey Korman
- Episode 111: Lena Horne
- Episode 112: Peter Ustinov
- Episode 113: Bruce Forsyth
- Episode 114: Sandy Duncan
- Episode 115: Candice Bergen
- Episode 116: Avery Schreiber
- Episode 117: Ben Vereen
- Episode 118: Phyllis Diller
- Episode 119: Vincent Price: Horror-type jokes and gags
- Episode 120: Valerie Harper
- Episode 121: Twiggy
- Episode 123: Kaye Ballard
- Episode 124: Mummenschanz
- Episode 202: Zero Mostel: Tennis jokes
- Episode 204: Rich Little: Animal struggles to get out after he is injured. Crazy Harry gets him out of the ballroom with his own inimitable fashion.
- Episode 206: Nancy Walker: "At the Dance" is scheduled at the same time as Veterinarian's Hospital
- Episode 210: George Burns (features I Won't Dance)
- Episode 215: Lou Rawls
- Episode 217: Julie Andrews (features Won't Somebody Dance with Me)
- Episode 218: Jaye P. Morgan: remarks that begin with "the problem with..."
- Episode 220: Petula Clark
- Episode 222: Teresa Brewer: Diet jokes
- Episode 223: John Cleese: Fly-in-my-soup jokes
- Episode 303: Roy Clark: Barn dance setting
- Episode 305: Pearl Bailey
- Episode 306: Jean Stapleton
- Episode 308: Loretta Lynn: Train station setting
- Episode 311: Raquel Welch: Fozzie performs his monologue in "At the Dance"
- Episode 407: Dudley Moore: Disco setting, as Fozzie tells jokes
- Episode 408: Arlo Guthrie: A square dance
- Episode 507: Glenda Jackson:
- Episode 515: Carol Burnett: Dance marathon
- The Muppet Show 2
- The Muppet Show Diary 1979
- The Muppet Show Comic Book special preview comic
- The Treasure of Peg-Leg Wilson Issue #1
- The Muppet Show Comic Book: On the Road Part 3: Box Clever