This post is intended as supplemental material for the course “Sounds of Laughter: Musical Comedy in the United States”
While The Muppets continue to be a cultural institution, The Muppet Show (which debuted in the 1970s), included a great deal of musical humor as part of its variety show format. While intended for children, the show (and its numerous iterations in pop culture since) has provided classic, timeless comedy that appeals to all ages.
First, there’s the iconic “Mahna Mahna” [or however you prefer to spell it]. As a side note, I never noticed the “Lullaby of Birdland” quote (around 1:09).
Second, a drum battle between swing/jazz drummer Buddy Rich (guest starring on the episode) and Animal, the outlandish drummer of the show’s resident band, Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.
And finally, a more obscure performance, but one of my personal favorites: guest star Peter Sellers and muppets singing “Cigarettes and Whiskey” (a bit of adult-oriented content for a children’s show).
Week 5 (Sounds of Laughter)