Not yet, I'm hoping to find something about it. I saw it on TV in my apartment building's fitness center last week during some morning show -- Good Morning America or something like it. They have a TV on with closed-captions, and I happened to look up and saw Kermit, Piggy and Pepe.
The Muppets clip is heavily featured in the commercial -- the point of the ad is to show that you can kick your kids out of the living room and they'll still be able to watch the same movie somewhere else. I don't know if there's any Muppet audio in the ad, because I was watching it with no sound.
The URL in the ad was att.com/tv -- I couldn't find the commercial posted there, or on YouTube. I asked on Twitter, and one person says that he saw it. That's all I have right now. :)
I hope we can find it; it's a nice example of what happens when Disney starts cross-promoting a franchise.
Hey, Danny! there's a discussion on TP right now about how Christopher Weekes' "Muppet Man" script may yet see the light of day as a production (although hopefully in a very different form). So I came here to double-check some information, and was surprised to see that there's no entry for this script at all, not even under "Unfinished Projects." A search for Weekes also yielded nothing.
I was especially surprised because I could have sworn that I had seen a page for this project on the Wiki in the past, but now it seems to have vanished.
I certainly don't mind creating such a page myself, but if there's some reason why the information was taken down, I don't want to do a whole bunch more hard work just to be told it has to come down again.
So, should I create a page for this project, or has such information been removed for some reason?
I'd discussed this with Ken and meant to add it for ages, but at long last, here's Lefty's secret radio origins, which I added as an "Influences" section, similar to what we have on Marvin Suggs, although here it's far more obvious. Of course by Sesame Street both Sheldon Leonard and Eddie Marr's radio characters had also influenced clones in Looney Tunes entries and elsewhere, and the "Riiiight" and obsessive shushing were either the writer's (I suspect Jerry Juhl, who we now know scripted many of the early Ernie bits, and they feel like his) or Frank Oz's contributions. But the lineage is unmistakeable (I may scan that story I mentioned later, since I found it saved me from trying to link to specific videos to show the phrases, especially "Tell ya what I'm gonna do," which does recur but not as often as "Hey bud, c'mere.")
Yeah, that's phenomenal -- and like all good wiki additions, it inspired me to do some work on the page too. :) We hardly mentioned "Would You Like to Buy an O?"! A shocking lapse, now corrected.
The influences section is another great example of your awesome research skills; I had no idea! It never even occurred to me to ask where that came from.
I have a couple little questions about the new section. I assume that you put the Jack Benny example first because it's better known than The Camel Comedy Caravan, but that means they're not in chronological order, which makes the transition a little awkward. It's possible that the Camel character influenced the Jack Benny one -- what do you think about switching the order?
The other question is about the opening phrase: "Several of Lefty's vocal mannerisms (outside of his elongated "Riiiight")". Does that mean that "riiiight" is unique to Oz and the Sesame character? If so, then I'm thinking about putting that note at the end of the section, so you see all the elements that were borrowed first. What do you think?
P.S. The Camel Comedy Caravan! I love that now I know that phrase.
No influence whatsoever. I also put Benny first because the "Hey bud/Who me?" is more of an instantly recognizable part of Lefty's character. The "Tell ya what I'm gonna do" (and some of the rhythms) come from Marr. I'd rather keep the order as is but, for transition, add a passage, i.e. "Although Lefty's trademark greeting came from the Benny program, another, less frequently recurring phrase comes from..." (which is awkard, but better). We can reverse too, but everyone thinks of "Hey bud" with Lefty; it takes either rewatching some of the early skits (the elephants one for example) or a few more seconds to remember "Oh yeah, he said "Tell you what I'm gonna do" too.) I'll try to play with it in a bit (I may have to do it like a research paper, identify the phrases first and then give the background, which would also make the chronology easier since I could still list the "Hey bud" first but then logically start with explaining Marr, then go back to the tout). Also, which I didn't really explain on the page, biggest fundamental difference between Leonard's Tout and Marr's Salesman outside of those noted: Marr was loud and fast talking, while the Tout was slow, undertoned, subtle, matching what Gerald S. Lesser would call Lefty's "insidious" voice.
And right on riiiiiight. As I said even on this page, that and the obsessive shushing are unique elements. I definitely agree with moving that to the end. And I did notice how much was lacking (the main section didn't even mention *any* of his catchphrases). Gerald S. Lesser's Children and Television book, which I don't own (I'd always borrow it from the library) has a section analyzing an entire skit, the number 8 one, discussing the "shifty Salesman puppet" (we're still the ones who basically put "Lefty the Salesman" together; I always felt we should have renamed it as Lefty (The Salesman) or vice versa, but by now Sesame Workshop uses it on their official site, so, hey!) Lesser describes his voice as "insidious" and examines the whole dynamic of the character being outsmarted by his own guile, whether the kids would understand the logic and moral, and so on. We need to get all of that on there.
And yes. I found a bunch of Camel Comedy Caravan scripts at Tobaccodocuments.org! This was in the days when sponsors controlled everything and titles were sometimes amusingly bizarre. Fred Allen's show, for example. His first sponsor was Linit Soap, so it was called The Linit Bath Club Revue. Then it was Hellmann's Mayonnaise, so The Salad Bowl Revue, both titles clearly reflecting the use of the product. Then we get The Sal Hepatica Revue. Since Sal Hepatica was a laxative, well, that posed a problem, so they just stuck with the name (later, as their slogan at the time was to take Sal Hepatica "for the smile of health," it was renamed The Hour of Smiles, something else we don't really associate with laxatives).
And not Muppet related at all but more Camel Comedy Caravan info that might amuse you (it was basically a hasty spring through summer reworking of Abbott and Costello's Camel show minus A&C, after Costello had rheumatic fever in March, with some of the same supporting cast and writers and gags, redone to fit Jack Carson and some new additions like the salesman; then, when Carson got his own series for Campbell Soups later that year, they renamed or recast many of the same characters, so instead of the announcer's battle-axe wife Mrs. Ken Niles, played by an actress, you had bandleader Freddy Martin's battle-axe wife, played by Agnes Moorehead!). Mel Blanc was a regular, playing Jack Carson's English butler Jerkins (for the Campbell Show, which had a bigger budget, they got movie butler actor and two-time Jeeves portrayer Arthur Treacher to play himself as the butler); Pancho the Mexican (back when all Mexicans were named Pancho or Pedro, and at least 85 percent of all radio Mexicans were Mel Blanc); Irish cops (over 90 percent of radio cops were Irish, especially on comed shows); Bugs Bunny in a few guest spots which billed him as "Leon Schlesinger's cartoon character," and so on. Also with Billy Gray, an adult comedian who played a little girl named "Little Matilda" on Bud and Lou's show, was carried over (I keep meaning to blog about that, but that was the true origin of "I'm only three and a half years old" which you hear in all those Looney Tunes).
And just wait until I tackle the origins of Statler and Waldorf!
You know that I'm looking forward to the book that you're going to write someday with all of the fun old-time radio and TV information that's rattling around in your head. It's marvelous.
It sounds like these comedy/variety shows were a lot more like vaudeville revues than anything that's currently on the radio or TV. I just looked up Ziegfeld Follies on Wikipedia, and like I figured, there was a smooth transition -- theatrical shows from 1904 to 1931, moved to radio in 1932.
It's actually amazing that that format survived the move to radio and then television, lasting as a "variety show" until at least the late 80s. And there are still echoes of that format in the late-night talk shows -- an opening monologue, the band plays, a guest comes out on stage.
If we were creating television over again from square one, I don't think we'd come up with that format -- but there it is, impossibly, a living fossil like the horseshoe crab.
Oh gosh, yes (of course so many of the big radio stars, Hope, Benny, Cantor, Abbott and Costello, Fred Allen, Burns and Allen, came from vaudeville). Trying to identify the first radio sitcom is tricky (Amos n' Andy was probably the first major national show with fully fictional characters, but it was patterned after comic strips in structure, with a continuing story and more often even melkodramatic, despite the humor, with Amos on trial for murder, Andy's breach of promise suit, etc.; it didn't become an actual half hour sitcom with an audience until 1943, 17 years after the earliest origins). Probably Fibber McGee and Molly would qualify but even then, for no particular reason, they had the show's singer just hanging around until he/she could deliver the solo and some banter and leave (although the musical interlude stayed, later it was fully divided with the commercial announcer introducing it, rather than Fibber).
Jack Benny was the first, of the comedian-focused series, to really develop situations, so while he kept the variety elements, including having the cast put on a sketch or movie spoof, they were the first to not just have jokes (and the opening monologue eventually vanished entirely on radio, though he brought it back on TV) but Don Wilson narrating scenes at Benny's home or "Let's go back to last week, when Jack and the gang were on their way back to Los Angeles" and so on. Basically it became a sitcom where most of the cast were playing fictional versions of themselves, interacting with fully fictional characters (Rochester) and all of the weird side characters, some named and some defined just by a label or a function (Frank Nelson was usually called the "Yeeeeesss?" man in reference books, but had no name in scripts except when he was given a joke name like "Schlogglemeyer" and when he had to have a name, it was most often just "Nelson"; I found some Muppet Meeting Films where Joey Mazzarino does Nelson, and a Sesame bit too, plus it just occurred to me that the basic premise is at the heart of the Grover/Mr. Johnson bits, only of course Grover isn't abrasive or *purposefully* making his customer's life heck, but it's still the same frustration humor, the same "Oh no, not you again!" at encountering the same employee in every occupation wherever you go; I picked up Monsters on the Bus at Target just for the joy of the illustrations, the inclusion of characters like the Martians, and especially Mr. Johnson, and it even includes a "Him AGAIN?" when he spots Grover conducting the marching band).
Anyway, most, including George Burns, gave credit to Jack as many of them scrambled to shift from just delivering jokes to actually having *plots* and situations and so on (and it's when Burns chose to simply explain that from then on, he and Gracie, who had been a single flirt on the air, were married as most folks knew and would play a married couple from then on; which they did, switching to a domestic comedy, adding wacky neighbors and characters like Mel Blanc's "Happy Postman," and then Burns and Allen took the same format to TV, except there George could make fun of the early TV staginess and watch as others walked into "my house" from a corner of the stage, and so on, in a way he never could on radio (mostly because you couldn't see him, so George suddenly bursting in with a side comment wouldn't just break the fourth wall but confuse heck out of listeners, so it was assumed, and they had a sponsor to worry about; TV, they could just pan to him and use the curtain to help divide the realms, as it were).
One concept that's even harder for me to grasp though is the occasional *drama* with the main character playing themselves. Gene Autry and Roy Rogers get a pass since they were movie star heroes (and even their shows on both TV and radio had variety elements, with their comedic sidekicks trading jokes before the main "story" on radio, and with musical interludes with their resident bands which they just happened to have handy. I personally suspect the proliferation of jugbands on The Muppet Show was in part a reference to that, as well as The Grand Ole Opry and such, since they just always happened to have an aggregation of musical performers handy, although Gene Autry even labeled his show Gene Autry's Melody Ranch, so you knew what you were getting). But there was the occasional soap or other series where the star actor was playing themselves only they just happened to also be a social worker running an orphanage or caught in South Seas intrigues or whatever (or worst of all, Basil Rathbone in Tales of Fatima, as himself, the famous actor who turns amateur detective and gets clues from a mysterious female voice, Fatima, as a blatant plug for the sponsor, a cigarette brand; imagine if they did that kind of thing on House MD with the next intern or whatever!)
Oh, I like the idea of a Frank Nelson page. You've got him cited on Gimley's Boss; do you know what the Sesame reference was?
The transitions between these shows are really interesting. I saw an old TV show at the Museum of Broadcasting -- it might have been an early George & Gracie show -- where a character walked off the living room set and over to a table, where he demonstrated Carnation evaporated milk with one of the kids, and then walked back to the living room and continued the show. If anyone did that in the 90s, it would've been a Garry Shandling Show-style meta-narrative joke. On this show, it was clearly just How TV Used to Work.
Hi Danny! When you have the chance, would you mind setting an IP block on this guy. He was first blocked a year ago, both here and on another wiki for counterproductive editing, and since then has been creating a slew of sockpuppets. Thanks!