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Define a whatnot

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by Bobby Benson, Aug 10, 2002.

  1. Bobby Benson

    Bobby Benson New Member

    Recently reminicing about one of my favorite shows, I've looked at what may be every muppet site on the web and I see all this great listings. But, I have to know. what is a whatnot and why are so many muppets called whatnots? It's driving me crazy. Wanna help a whatnot out?
  2. matleo

    matleo Well-Known Member

    Whatnots are a generic term for Muppets with no faces. Or I should say no defined faces....chorus Muppets. ever see one Muppet in the backgorund with the exact same head as another Muppet in another background? That's a whatnot. eys, noe, hair....all velcroed or pinned on so it can be changed later, Hope that helps.

  3. BlueFrackle

    BlueFrackle Well-Known Member


    Bobby Benson himself is a Whatnot.

    He shares the same face as Wayne and other Muppets.

    See ya
  4. Bobby Benson

    Bobby Benson New Member

    Thanks for your help. I knew Bobby is a whatnot, that's why I chose the name. I just didn't understand what it meant. Pretty cool. Thanks again.
  5. Phillip

    Phillip Administrator Staff Member

    The Anything Muppets debuted on Sesame Street in 1969 and they serve the same purpose as what would later be called Whatnots on the Muppet Show and beyond. These were techniques that Don Sahlin perfected in the sixties. Sometimes eyes or noses might fall off on camera as can been seen in "Any Old Iron" the UK skit from the Elton John episode of The Muppet Show.
  6. BlueFrackle

    BlueFrackle Well-Known Member


    Or in 'Grandma's Feather Bed' in the John Denver ep, The Pink Muppet with the Orange hair.

    His pupil slides from his eye down onto his cheeck.

    See ya
  7. BlueAM

    BlueAM Well-Known Member

    Here are three other TMS characters who have the same head as Wayne and Bobby Benson:

    Roger (the guy who works at the Muppet Sound Studio in the Helen Reddy ep.)
    The security guard outside Liberace's dressing room who was one of Steve Whitmire's first speaking characters (Liberace ep.)
    The Howard Keel look-and-soundalike who sang "Close To You" (James Coburn ep.)

    Also, Marvin Suggs is a Whatnot, and William Tell (Alice Cooper ep.) and Rugney Rogg (one of the cross-country billiard contestants in "Muppet Sports" in the Roger Moore ep.) share the same head with Marvin.

    Then there's Bruno, the guy who works at the gold processing plant in the Shirley Bassey episode. He himself is a Whatnot, too. The Arab (Helen Reddy ep.), Svengali (Peter Ustinov ep.), and Bert (the British chap in the top hat who sang in the Don Knotts and Nancy Walker eps.) all have the same head as Bruno.

    Also, Billy (Big Tiny Tall Saddle's assistant in the Johnny Cash ep.), Benny (from "The Cat Came Back", Linda Rodstant ep.), and Johnny (the young fiddler from "The Devil Went Down To Georgia", Alan Arkin ep.) all share the same head.

    Pegleg (Glenda Jackson ep.) and Angus McGregor (the contestant from the bagpipe eating contest in "Muppet Sports" in the Anne Murray ep.) both share the same head.

    Cynthia Birdley (Peter Ustinov ep.) and Zubin Backmesser (the conductor from the "Muppet News" segment in the Tony Randall ep.) have the same pink, Fraggle-ish head.

    The doctor/witchdoctor from the "Coconut" number in the Kenny Rogers ep. was a Whatnot, and the Singing Weatherman (from the "Vetrinarian's Hospital" segment in the Gladys Knight ep.) and the jug-playing guy in Lobbuck Lou and his Jughuggers that Steve Whitmire performed in the Gene Kelly ep. share the same head with him.

    Does that sound good to you?

    "One day, lad, all this will be yours..."
    "What- the curtains?"
    "No! Not the curtains, lad... all that... all that you can see, stretched out over the hills and valleys... as far as the eye can see and beyond... that'll be your kingdom, lad."
  8. Cantus Rock

    Cantus Rock Well-Known Member

    Wow...somebody did their homework...:D

    Great Post. :)

  9. BlueAM

    BlueAM Well-Known Member

    Phil had a point there, for, you see, this whole technique goes back a long way away in the history of the Muppets.

    First, there was this guy on Ed Sullivan called Conrad Love. I'd read the article on the Sullivan DVD at Muppet Central and I didn't know what to do because whe I saw Conrad Love, I thought he looked EXACTLY like Peter Sellers as Chance the Gardener in "Being There"! In addition, the same puppet later turned up as one of the Muppets in the spot where they're trying to name the show that eventually became "Sesame Street", only this time he has glasses and balding gray hair.

    Then there was that thing done earlier on Sullivan in "The Muppets on Puppets" with the Southern Colonel. He was turned into different characters with the AM/Whatnot technique (poet, thief, etc.).

    Hope you get my point!

  10. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    well one of the best sitks on the Ed sullaven DVD was the old man skit this is a calssic Walnot skit becaues it show it could be changed and chagned very fast even for somone who was not a puppeterrr. so there ya go theres my two cents wroth about it.

    By the way i read in an artical that Jim really like the muppets when they really dind have a defint carhirtur just anything like befor Kermit was a frog he was just a somthing so there ya go :)
  11. Splurge

    Splurge Well-Known Member

    That puppet then went on to become Guy Smiley, did he not? As well as Prince Charming.
  12. BlueAM

    BlueAM Well-Known Member

    I LOVE WHATNOTS SOOOOOO MUCH! It's also a pity that there never was a Brian Henson intro about them. So I made one up:

    "Hi. I'm Brian Henson. Have you noticed all the human-type puppets on the show? Well, these are called "Whatnots". (Clips of Whatnots shown as Brian talks.) They're often chorus puppets and used in many production numbers. Many of the show's recurring characters are Whatnots, like Lew Zealand, Marvin Suggs, and the Zucchini Brothers. (Clips of these characters are shown at this point.) These characters have interchangeable features so one Whatnot can be many different things. (Clips of Whatnots in the workshop in "Of Muppets and Men".) Donald Sahlin, who built many of the early Muppets, created this technique in the early sixties. (Clips of Don putting features on the Southern Colonel character in "The Muppets on Puppets".) The Anything Muppets, the Whatnots' "Sesame Street" counterparts, serve this same purpose since 1969. (Clip of the first Gordon putting on the faces of the Anything Muppets in the premiere episode of "Sesame Street".) See if you can spot the Whatnots in this next episode of "The Muppet Show"."

    I'll be back soon to talk some more about the Whatnots!

    A REAL Whatnot addict!
  13. BlueAM

    BlueAM Well-Known Member

    I'm baaaaack!

    I've also noticed that characters who aren't Whatnots have this similar purpose. For instance, Thudge McGerk (Vincent Price ep.) is actually the same puppet as Miss Kitty, only made up to match Waldorf's description. Also, that Big V-like monster in the "Inchworm" skit in the Rich Little ep. was actually the Gorgon Heap puppet with a modified nose. In the Debbie Harry ep., Quango the Gorilla had eyebrows whereas he really does not. Finally, the pigs are used the same way as the Whatnots. Hope you understand!

    I'll be back soon if possible!


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