Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Random Muppet #18: Avocado

On the Muppet Wiki, there is a "Random Muppet" button which sends you to the page of one of the thousands of Muppets in existence. I will press the button and discuss the importance of the Muppet that comes up, no matter how obscure. No skips. No redos. This is the Random Muppet Challenge.

Random Muppet #18: Avocado

An unemployed critic of low art.

Performer:  Dave Golez

Muppet Universe of Origin:  The Muppet Show

Most Significant Appearance:  The Muppet Show, November 11, 1978, "Episode 305: Pearl Bailey"

While Waldorf and Statler usually assume the duties of being The Muppet Show's harshest critics, they cannot always complete the job on their own.  One day, Statler invites his friend, a sunglasses-totting avocado, to the show.  How Statler met the avocado is never explained, and after Waldorf's brief puzzlement, he grows to accept the presence of the talking fruit.

The avocado is introduced after the opening number in which guest star Pearl Bailey sings "My Soul is a Witness."  It's a nice, respectful number that the old men can't really find anything to complain about. Statler suggests they ask the avocado and he responds positively.  Apparently he's a huge Pearl Bailey fan.

Well, she is a good actress and singer, I suppose.

While the audience is trying to wrap their head around why an avocado was consulted at all, the show continues without him.  Was "Let's ask the avocado!" some sort of pun?  He's missing the next time we visit the balcony, but he returns two more times in the episode.  The first time, Waldorf asks if he's a professional critic, to which the fruit responds that he's unemployed.  Waldorf then suggests that he should try to get into something decent...guacamole!

At the end of the show, the avocado gives his final review of the show.  "It was the pits!"

So...an avocado character was introduced basically to make two avocado-related puns?  That's a far stretch to go for those jokes.  Couldn't they have found some other food-related sketch to fit him into?

It shall remain forever a mystery.

Why is He the Most Important Muppet?

The Muppet Show is no stranger to featuring talking food.  What makes the avocado so special?  Why isn't he featured alongside his edible brethren?

Well, have you ever really stopped to consider the avocado?

Now's your chance!

The avocado is an anomaly of the fruit world.  It is technically a big berry, although it's odd texture and lack of a sweet flavor may convince one otherwise.  In some parts of the world, it is known as a "butter fruit" due to the consistency of the innards.  It has a high fat content, making it a perfect part of a vegetarian diet (or a substitute for meat in areas where meat and other fatty foods are scarce).  Despite this, some culinary artists and cultures do try to include it in sweeter dishes for dessert such as milkshakes, smoothies, and ice cream, infusing a subtle avocado flavor in with the sugary syrup.

But perhaps the most bizarre aspect of the avocado is it's single giant seed.  Out of all fruits, the avocado seed is the third largest, following closely behind the mango and the coconut (which is itself served as just the seed).  The avocado seed is toxic to ingest, but it's so large that no one will be swallowing it anytime soon.

According to the evolutionary biologist Daniel H. Janzen, the avocado is an "evolutionary anachronism" meaning it basically grew up during the wrong time-period.  It's earliest appearance dates back to about 10,000 B.C. which is about 1,000 years short of the 2.5 million year long Pleistocene Epoch where it should have thrived.  This was the time that humans as we know them took form, but giant animals were still common place.  Only these larger creatures could have ingested avocados whole and spread avocado trees with their droppings serving as a natural fertilizer.  The fleshy nature of the fruit suggests that this is the best evolutionary method for seed dispersal, as it would protect both the seed and the animal who swallowed it from harming each other.

And yet, the avocado survives to this day and has made it's way onto The Muppet Show.

And it wears sunglasses indoors for some reason.

The avocado is a fragile creature.  One wrong move and it could end up in a dip.  Life is difficlut for the lowly plant.  So what does it devote it's life to?  What is the only thing it is capable of doing?  Observing art and critiquing it.  The avocado wants to contribute to the world, but it lacks the ability to do anything.  The best it can provide is it's opinion so that others may benefit from his wisdom.  He is a young avocado, and still has a ways to go.  He can only say, "It's the pits!" so many times before the shtick gets old.  But the avocado presses on.  It perseveres.  And the plant that no one thought could last in this world gains immortality.

In action figure form, of course.

Everyone's a critic.  Analyzing the crafts of others keeps us entertained, focused, and sane.  It gives us life.  It reminds us that everyone can contribute to this world, in some way or another.

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