Ethel Merman - Episode 22
Dates: November 16-18, 1976
GENERIC INTRO: MOCK SWEDISH
Brian Henson: "Hi, I'm Brian Henson. When I was a kid my father was so into gadgets... cars especially. And he had this tape that he used to play which was "How to Speak Mock Swedish". And he used to drive to work and I used to ride with him a lot. And he would drive to work trying to make a chicken sandwich in Mock Swedish or make a turkey casserole in Mock Swedish. It was the most ridiculous thing you had ever seen. And people at traffic lights used to stop and sort of look at him a little crazy."
"But that was the roots of the character that would eventually become The Swedish Chef. And if you watch The Swedish Chef one of the most exciting things about it is the head is just speaking away and trying to follow the hands which are grabbing meat cleavers and throwing chickens over his head. To me the best part about the Swedish Chef is the more you don't understand him, the more you love him. Here is The Muppet Show."
Fozzie's joke: "I went to a diet doctor and in just two months I lost $300!" (FOZZIE DOUBLE CHECKS HIS SCRIPT - HE DOESN'T GET IT! HE REMAINS CONFUSED AS KERMIT BEGINS TO SING HIS VERSE!)
Miss Piggy plans to sing a medley of Ethel Merman's hits as a tribute.
MUSICAL NUMBER - "JAVA"
Another classic Muppet routine from their pre-Muppet Show guest appearances! Two "slinky"-like pipe cleaner characters perform a dance with the smaller of the two getting carried away and upstaging the larger creature causing it to flatten the small one and shove it aside. Like most Muppet sketches, the underdog has a way to get ahead in the end! [This song was released on the 1986 Muppet Favorites album.]
Fozzie alerts Kermit that his agent will be paying him a visit later on.
Kermit explains that several cast members wanted to sing a duet with Ethel so they've arranged a medley since she has introduced so many classic songs.
MUSICAL NUMBER - "ETHEL MERMAN MEDLEY"
Muppets come on stage one by one to sing a duet with Ethel. There's great interplay by the various characters and Miss Merman all around. Kermit, Fozzie, Scooter, Gonzo, and the two-headed singer from Ben Vereen's opening number get their turns before Miss Piggy gets to show off one of the songs she had rehearsed, "Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better". The pig ends up winning the high note battle against the Broadway legend! Even Uncle Deadley tries to join in...
Irving Bizarre, Fozzie's agent arrives and is quite the short one. Fozzie has to prop him up on Kermit's desk for the two to negotiate and even then all we can see is a top hat over a pair of shoes! Even though Fozzie asked him not to, Kermit can't help cracking the "short jokes", but when Irving fires back at him, the frog shows he can dish it out but can't take it!
Ethel points out to Hilda that there's a mouse in her dressing room. When Hilda replies it's the only place she has to change, Ethel wonder what kind of place she's stumbled into...and then meets Animal!
UK SKIT: BALCONY - "DON'T SUGAR ME"
...And speaking of mice, in probably the weirdest UK skit of the season, Statler asks Waldorf what he takes in his tea.
Sure enough, Miss Mousey (from The Muppets Valentine Show) pops up from the teacup and sings "Don't Sugar Me'. [Despite her role in the first Muppet Show pilot, this is Miss Mousey's only appearance this season aside from being seen as an audience member. She's used a bit more in season two as a minor competitor with Miss Piggy for Kermit's affection.]
Miss Piggy interrupts the proceedings to offer Ethel Merman a toast and shills for singing tips in the process. Piggy may have won the battle of the high notes earlier, but Ethel wins the war of the divas by shattering Miss Piggy's glass with her voice.
Confessing the cast's love mysterious love of puppetry, Kermit brings on guest puppeteer, Australian Richard Bradshaw.
RICHARD BRADSHAW'S SHADOW PUPPETRY
A peacock, mouse (what IS it with mice this episode?), and hippo all take a turn on a playground slide.
SHADOW PUPPETRY PART TWO
The trio individually attempt a high wire act. [While certainly impressive and funny on its own merit, the shadow puppetry demonstration is greatly enhanced by the terrific music that accompanies it!]
Miss Piggy gets to meet Irving as Kermit takes advantage of the situation to quietly slip away for a bit. [Exiting towards the left even though he'll be entering the stage after this scene.]
Kermit introduces Fozzie as he hints to the audience that he's currently negotiating himself out of a contract as Fozzie peaks through and overhears.
FOZZIE'S COMEDY ACT
Fozzie faces a very tough crowd...his identical cousin in the audience performs his own jokes, Statler and Waldorf chime in and are counter-heckled by another audience member! Fozzie finally demands that he only wants to see real Fozzie Bear fans in the audience after he counts to three...everyone except for Statler and Waldorf exit the theater...including his cousin!
After Fozzie essentially clears the house, it appears the contract negotiations are about to break down, however Kermit eventually relents and offers Fozzie ten times as much money as he's presently making. The only catch is Fozzie currently earns nothing. Ethel attempts to cheer up Fozzie by reminding him of the real reasons performers do what they do despite fickle audiences by singing "There's No Business Like Show Business"
MUSICAL NUMBER - "THERE'S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS"
Ethel continues to take her number onstage as other Muppets join in with female, male, and ensemble chorus lines.
Ethel is presented with a dozen roses by Miss Piggy at the show's end. Contrary to her suspicions, they don't explode.