Lips is the trumpet player from The Muppet Show. The character was created for performer Steve Whitmire, to give him his own member of the Electric Mayhem. He debuted in the fifth and final season of the series, and played trumpet for both the Electric Mayhem and the orchestra. Lips also appeared as part of the Electric Mayhem in The Great Muppet Caper, A Muppet Family Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol and Christmas in Rockefeller Center. Lips had a special mechanism that allowed his eyelids to turn inwards. It was usually used when he blew into his trumpet.
Compared to the other Mayhem members, who participated in skits or the backstage action, Lips functioned primarily as a musician only (with trumpeter Tommy McQuater doing the hornplaying) and seldom even spoke. He did have trumpet solos in several episodes, most notably duetting with Hal Linden on "When the Saints Go Marching In" in episode 517. Steve Whitmire once commented upon Lips' silence:
|“||I felt great whenever he played the trumpet, and I felt terrible whenever he spoke, because I wanted to do this Louis Armstrong kind of voice, and at that point and time, there was some question about whether or not we would offend African-American people by this white guy doing a black voice as a trumpet player... We might offend people who liked Louis Armstrong. We weren't sure. I never quite got anywhere with Lips. I'd probably be real comfortable with him now, but at that point I wasn't sure. I still wasn't ready to do a character. ||”|
Two rare examples of Lips speaking include "Barnyard Boogie", in which he sings a verse, and The Great Muppet Caper (yelling "Ding ding!" and "How 'bout a little travelin' music?" before he plays trumpet for "Night Life", and "And me!" during the finale). In A Muppet Family Christmas, after Doc accidentally slams a door into Lips' face, the latter can be heard shaking his mouth out due to the sudden shock.
In 2009, Lips appeared with the rest of the Electric Mayhem in the NBC special Christmas in Rockefeller Center. This was his first appearance in over a decade. He appears again in 2011's The Muppets, where he is seen performing in the orchestra pit as he did on The Muppet Show.
- The Muppet Show
- "The Muppet Show Theme" (Season 5)
- Episode 504: Shirley Bassey ("Barnyard Boogie", "After You've Gone")
- Episode 505: James Coburn ("Roarin' Twenties" sketch)
- Episode 510: Jean-Pierre Rampal ("Rockin' Robin")
- Episode 512: Melissa Manchester ("Whenever I Call You Friend")
- Episode 513: Tony Randall ("Ti-Pi-Tin")
- Episode 514: Mac Davis ("I Believe in Music")
- Episode 517: Hal Linden ("When the Saints Go Marching In")
- Episode 520: Wally Boag
- Episode 524: Roger Moore ("How High the Moon")
- I Love Liberty
- The Great Muppet Caper
- The Muppets Take Manhattan
- A Muppet Family Christmas
- The Muppets at Walt Disney World
- The Muppet Christmas Carol
- Christmas in Rockefeller Center
- The Muppets