Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Random Muppet #26: Original Grover

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.

(This week is the special Christmas Edition. For Christmas.)

Random Muppet #26: Original Grover

Grover, a.k.a. Gleep, a.k.a. Fuzzyface, a.k.a Grover's Mommy?

Performer:  Frank Oz

Muppet Universe of Origin:  General "Muppets"

Most Significant Appearance:  The Ed Sullivan Show, December 24, 1967

Grover, as we know him today, had to go through an awkward green phase to become the character we know and love.  It's hard to determine whether or not this character is actually Grover, since he was never referred to by that name.  He appeared as a general Muppet monster in early variety show sketches as well as in the first season of Sesame Street.  While on the show, he appeared in a couple sketches that were definitely "Grover-ish" in tone.  In one, he helped Kermit the Frog demonstrate "in" and "out," all while the frog insulted his intelligence, and referred to him as "Fuzzyface."

Old Kermit was a jerk.

In another sketch, he taught us about "first" and "last" as he gets trampled by a multitude of other Muppet monsters.  In neither appearance does he actually sound Grover (his voice is more like that of a teenaged Cookie Monster), but his constant suffering paved the way for the puppet who eventually became Grover.  In fact, in the second season, when traditional blue Grover made his introduction, the old Grover was used to play Grover's mommy.

Freud would have a field day.

But, his introductory appearance is his most important.  Because it has to do with Christmas.

Old Grover, then known as Gleep, appeared with a few other Muppets, crashing Santa's workshop at the North Pole.  They demanded that Santa (Arthur Godfrey) hand over all of his toys but, in a shocking twist, the toys were actually intended to be the monsters' Christmas gifts anyway.

Don't we feel sheepish?

Why Is He the Most Important Muppet?  What Is the True Meaning of Christmas?

Original Grover learned a valuable lesson that day.  Society had placed him and his peers into a category of criminals.  Because of their prejudiced labeling, the monsters took a path in life that became a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If they were going to be called monsters, then they were going to act like monsters.

But Santa knows all and sees all.  He knows that at the heart of these monsters lie scared children who are just trying to figure out their place in the world.  And so, he created toys for them.  They had turned into the very monsters they feared, but fortunately, Santa was kind enough to let them keep their gifts.

Everyone deserves to have a happy Christmas.  Even the monsters.  Because at Christmas, we should celebrate our virtues and personalities without fear of judgment.

Original Grover learned a lesson in humility.  And that is where Grover we know and love was born.

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