|DESIGN||Frank Oz designer|
"Java" was a composition written and recorded in 1957 by Allan Toussaint (under the slightly-simplified stage name Al Tousan) as an instrumental for piano and orchestra, and released on his LP "The Wild Sound of New Orleans". In 1963, New Orleans trumpet virtuoso Al Hirt transcribed the piano part for trumpet, and recorded the song (with otherwise-unchanged arrangements) on his album "Honey In The Horn". He had a major pop instrumental hit (#4 on the Billboard pop chart) with the song the following year, selling over a million copies of the single and winning a Grammy for Best Instrumental.
The Muppets have featured the song a number of times over the years including on Fanfare (July 1965), The Ed Sullivan Show (November 27, 1966), The Today Show (January 12, 1977), episode 122 of The Muppet Show and when they hosted The Tonight Show in 1979. An image of the "Java" act appears on a monitor in Inner Tube. Edited clips of the segment appeared in The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years and The Muppet Show Live.
For the Ed Sullivan Show performance, Jim Henson and Frank Oz performed the two puppets, and the explosion that provides the punchline was achieved by Jerry Juhl shooting off a fire extinguisher. As the three of them prepared to go onstage that night, right before Ed Sullivan introduced them, Jerry Juhl suddenly realized that he left the fire extinguisher in their dressing room, which was up on the second floor. Juhl raced to the elevator, hearing the “Java” music through the speakers in the elevator, so he knew exactly how much time he had left until it was too late. Jerry Juhl managed to grab the fire extinguisher, run back to the elevator, and make the trip back down to the stage just in time for the climax.
The tube-like characters who perform the number have become known as "Javas," appearing as such in touring exhibits.