Ode to…Pöpcørn?

I love the Muppets. A lot. I’ve already talked about how Jim Henson is one of the greatest influences from my childhood. Seriously, the two things that continue to make me proud to be an alumna of the University of Maryland at College Park are: my three aunts graduated from there; and Jim Henson graduated from there.

I still haven’t made it to see the new Muppets movie. I’m actually quite irritated with myself over this fact. I haven’t wanted to go see a movie in a very long time, but frog dammit, I want to see this one. Time to finally finish off that Fandango card!

In the interim, however, I’ve been watching some of the YouTube videos put out by Muppet Studios. Two have quickly become my favorites. Two of my favorite recurring characters are Beaker and the Swedish Chef. Poor Beaker, always getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop stick, no matter what. All the horrible things that Bunsen Honeydew did to him, yet he continued to rise like some kind of orange-tufted, felty Messiah (ooh, have I offended the fundamentalists? Good). Even when he’s on his own, as in this video, he still somehow attracts an incomparable level of disaster that is equal parts traumatic and hilarious. Okay, that’s a lie. They’re just hilarious…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VnT7pT6zCcA&w=640&h=360]

And then there’s the Swedish Chef. I can only imagine that he must be offensive on some level to true Swedes. Right? I mean, come on, such a blatant mockery of their native language must ruffle their feathers at least a little. Yet there’s something so delightfully underdoggish about the Swedish Chef. He’s utterly incompetent and frighteningly inept at his profession. But he means well in his attempts. And he botches his dishes in such hysterically horrifying ways…such as this attempt to make Pöpcørn Shrimp. I can’t stop watching this video. Also, please, please, please make sure that you have the closed captions activated while you watch this. Trust me. You will appreciate it that much more…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7UmUX68KtE&w=640&h=360]

I like how my favorite characters are two of the Muppets that have regular Muppety heads but have “real” hands (the Swedish Chef always had human hands; in fact, they originally were Jim Henson’s hands and Henson’s voice…Beaker has human hands as well, but they’re covered with felt). Also, neither one speaks a true language. The Swedish Chef is somewhat understandable at times; Beaker though…I have no freakin’ clue there, denizens. Just makes him that much more entertaining. Although, really, maybe Beaker isn’t even a “he.” How the hell can you tell? Maybe it’s a girl. I don’t know. Do you?

While you marinate on that question, here’s one final video, of both Beaker and the Swedish Chef together, bringing their…unique dialects together for this musical interlude. Watch for a guest appearance from one of my other favorite Muppets along the way…

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXKUb5A1auM&w=640&h=360]