Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Just in Time

There is some part of the human brain that just enjoys making connections.  When something visual syncs up with its accompanying audio, we are pleased.  Just try watching a video with the sound out of sync for an extended period of time and you'll notice how agitated you begin to grow.

By simply pairing an image with music, a new world opens up.  Stories can be told, emotions can be stirred and humor can develop.  As always, Jim's early work falls on this principle of making a quick joke out of the absurd.  In his classic "Java" sketch, two tube like creatures dance to simple elevator music.  That's all you need, sometimes.

No words.  Just two eyes on a tube and sympathetic yet malicious characters are born.

This sketch was repeated many times (like many of the early pieces), but it almost failed on it's first run due to lack of preparation.  On The Ed Sullivan Show, the sketch was just starting and puppeteer Jerry Juhl realized he had left the fire extinguisher required for the punchline in the dressing room.  As the skit went on, Juhl raced through the studio, hearing the "Java" theme playing over the loudspeakers throughout the studio.  Finally, just in the nick of time, he made it to the stage to release the mist.

The original Javas (who were almost the only Javas)

It's funny how a performance that relies so heavily on keeping things in perfect synchronization had could have been a disaster had Juhl been off by one second.

This was the Muppets fourth appearance on the show, so it was still early enough in the career that mistakes could have been detrimental.  Fortunately, the Javas made it through the night and the Muppets continued to grown into the world-wide phenomenon that they are today.

And now they get to be preserved as museum exhibits.

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