The Muppets walked into the room. I know, right? They’re Muppets! How on Earth do they propel their little footsies and motor into the press room? But there they were: Miss Piggy and Kermit themselves commanding a room of the world’s media before they’d even sat down.
At the tender age of 24 I’d effectively reached the pinnacle of my career in the shadows of a pig and a frog who’d been dominating showbiz for more than 30 years. Yes, the Muppets have been around for longer than I have been alive. And they don’t look a day older then when they began. Funny that.
Now the fuzzy, adorable team are back together in a brand new movie written, executive produced by and starring humanity’s closest approximation of a Muppet, Jason Segel. He’s here too wearing a big, ridiculous grin. There’s no pressure, he says. He’s a bit like Fozzie Bear, the joke cracking Muppet.
“He is the coolest. He is … every comedian feels like him at some point. You have this kind of totally meritless confidence [laughs] to keep telling jokes despite the fact that no one is laughing. Fozzie is just completely undaunted by no crowd reaction. It’s hilarious,” he says, explaining the innocence of the Muppets characters and the franchise itself.
“The thing I have always responded to, they are just so kind. Their humour is never mean-spirited. It’s so easy to get cheap laughs out of people. The Muppets managed to be around for 40 years without ever resorting to that. There must be something special in that.”
And a face-to-face meeting with Miss Piggy and Kermit goes some way to proving that innocent humour need not be boring. It’s just a few days after what would have been Jim Henson’s birthday. He created Kermit in 1955 and passed away in 1990.
“He’s very important in my life. I wouldn’t be here without him. He kind of raised me to new heights … never quite sure what he did though. He was always there, working behind the scenes though,” says Kermit.
Miss Piggy pipes up: “I always thought he was a stalker! That’s my job! I stalk the frog.”
They’re here, of course, to talk about the movie, in which they and the rest of the Muppet gang are the true stars.
It tells the story of Kermit’s biggest fan Walter. He looks like a Muppet, but he’s the brother of Gary [Jason Segel] who has lived a pretty sheltered life in Smalltown, USA. They’re best buddies and together with Gary’s perpetually waiting girlfriend of 10 years Mary [Amy Adams] they head off to LA to take a tour of the Muppet Studios which is, coincidentally, where we’re having this interview.
[Fun fact, the Muppets Studios are among the oldest in Hollywood and are in fact the original Charlie Chaplin Studios built in 1917].