While chatting on Twitter last night, @UberDorkGirlie commented that her eldest daughter declared there should be a Muppet Con. Now this is a woman who took it upon herself to get a Kickstarter program going so she could open up an UberDork Cafe, offering a family friendly place to eat, enjoy art, gaming, etc. (Check it out, it sounds awesome!) That quickly got me and the @HensonCompany talking and I soon discovered something called MuppetFest, a fan convention that started back in 2001. It didn’t last long, though. Well… I think it’s time to get things started. Again.
Okay, so I’m just a tad bit obsessed with the Muppets. I loved watching the Muppet Show on TV as a kid and used to chat with my buddy Ethan at the bus stop every morning about the most recent episode. Remember Mark Hamill and his “cousin” Luke Skywalker performing together? Or the episode with Steven Martin and that enormous balloon that ends up lifting him up off the stage? Pure comedy gold!
And the first two Muppet movies were pretty stellar as well. I’ve watched them recently with my kids and they definitely hold up. Not sure who loved them more, me or the kids! I wasn’t a big fan of any of the other movies, and honestly, pretty much lost my faith in Muppetdom after Jim Henson died. At that point, I just felt like the Muppets lost more than Kermit’s voice; they lost their soul.
And then Jason Segel comes along to give the Muppets a bit of a reboot. I rolled my eyes at early footage and had pretty low expectations. But once I saw more trailers and ultimately the movie itself, that spark was completely back. Just as the Muppets returned to glory in the film, my faith and love for them fully returned. I cannot wait for a sequel and hopefully another Muppet Show TV series! And my poor wife has to put up my insane obsession and affection for ping pong eyeball-covered felt.
Years ago I even started a website called DeathByMuppets.com. (Don’t bother trying to snipe the domain; I own it.) Y’see, I was talking with some friends once about how we’d most like to die. Typical guys, most answers involved a bevvy of blondes in bed, or defending the Earth from alien invaders. My answer? I wasn’t sure of the full details, but I quickly replied, “Death by Muppets.” Maybe they’d all chase me off a cliff, or hug me to death with killer felt arms. I had no idea. I just know that it somehow had to involve Muppets.
So to come full circle like Dr. Bunsen Honeydew’s head, I’m a bit obssessed with Muppets. The sheer thought of an annual fan convention revolving around the characters has me super pumped. It needs to happen. It has to happen. It will happen! Look at Star Wars. In 1999, the first Star Wars Celebration was held, and the annual Force-filled Fest is now more popular than ever. Sure, Star Wars has the power of Lucas behind it, but the Muppets have an even bigger force in their corner: Disney.
Disney’s about to realize the insane power of the Muppet. They owned the franchise for years and did squat with it. Cruddy movies. Next-to-no merchandise. And now, well, now they’ve got a major blockbuster film and they’re realizing that people don’t just love the Muppets, they need the Muppets! Theme parks, toys, movies, books, you name it are all great. But an annual fan convention starring the Muppets would be a no-brainer for the House of Mouse. They just need a good expo partner (like perhaps the Reed Group who just happens to coordinate the Star Wars Celebration as well).
What would a Muppet Con be like? Besides all the attendees dressed up in homemade costumes and tons of dealers selling Muppet-related merchandise, it should be a… well… a celebration of Muppetdom! Celebrities from the Muppet movies and TV shows can do signings. Same goes for puppeteers and voice actors. Panels with folks like Frank Oz would be worth the price of admission alone. Live demos of how they physically make a Muppet, how they get the voice right, how they get all the parts moving, etc. Even a mini Muppets museum with real props from all the old shows and movies would be a great addition. And that’s just off the top of my head. As long as Muppet Con exuded the joy, love and double rainbowness of what it is to be a Muppet, anything goes.
I’m hoping to build a flurry of support for a Muppet Con and thought I’d start here with a simple blog post. I know the fans are out there. I know there are oodles of hysterically awesome Muppet fan sites as well. I’ve got lots of friends in the comic book/entertainment business. So is there any reason we can’t start a groundswell of support for this idea? Let’s all join forces and get the old gang back together again… every year, that is.