|The Muppets character|
Animal playing drums
|First appearance||The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence|
"Animal" was performed by Frank Oz from his first appearance in the pilot for The Muppet Show until his 2000 appearance in the video game Muppet RaceMania, and has been performed regularly by Eric Jacobson since his 2002 appearance in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. On The Muppet Show, his drumming is performed by Ronnie Verrell. Animal has had roles in all of the Muppet movies, and was the only member of The Electric Mayhem to be included regularly on the Muppet Babies cartoons. He was voiced by Howie Mandel in the first two seasons of Muppet Babies, followed by Dave Coulier in subsequent seasons. Animal was performed by Rob Mills in the series finale of The Jim Henson Hour, and was occasionally performed by Kevin Clash on Muppets Tonight in the absence of Frank Oz. John Kennedy also briefly performed Animal in a 2002 commercial for MasterCard, as well as the 2003 video game Muppets Party Cruise. Drew Massey operated Animal in Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony. In Jim Henson's Little Muppet Monsters, Animal was voiced by Hal Rayle (who also voiced Gonzo and Miss Piggy).
Animal's vocabulary is generally limited to guttural shouts and monosyllabic grunts, often repeating a few simple phrases. During performances, Animal is usually chained to the drum set, as his musical outbursts are extremely violent.
From The Muppet Movie when the Electric Mayhem is introducing themselves:
- Animal: [flails and babbles wildly, pants, and yells as Fozzie clutches an also frightened Kermit in fear]
- Floyd: Oh yeah, 'n' that's Animal. Show 'em whatcha do, Animal!
- Animal: Ah, what do! Eat drums! [loudly chews on a cymbal]
- Dr Teeth: No, no, no, beat drums, beat drums!
- Animal: [open eyes wide] beat drums! Beat drums! [hits the third tom drum three times with his head, grunting before each hit]
- Floyd: Down, Animal!
- Animal: Down!
- Floyd: Back!
- Animal: Back!
- Floyd: Sit!
- Animal: Sit! [laughs shortly as he gets back up to look at Scooter who is introducing himself]
Throughout his tenure on the show, Floyd seems to be the only person who can, at least partially, control Animal with a few simple commands suggesting dog training.
Animal's bushy eyebrows and hair, his outrageous behavior, and his wild drumming style are the most common reasons people think The Who drummer Keith Moon was the inspiration for Animal's character. However, the original sketches for Animal contain no evidence to suggest Animal was based on Moon. In fact, many of Animal's physical attributes were supposedly based on Grammy Award-winning drummer Steve Mitchell, a friend of Jim Henson's. Animal is portrayed as an excellent drummer, playing with and/or against both Buddy Rich and Harry Belafonte in separate drum-offs on The Muppet Show as well as Questlove on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2011. He shows a talent for jazz in a television advert for the Renault Clio car with French footballer Thierry Henry.
Animal has also run afoul of Muppet Show guests, such as the aforementioned scene with Buddy Rich (which ended with Animal throwing a drum onto Rich's head). When he repeatedly interrupted Rita Moreno's rendition of Fever with loud drumming outbursts, she became annoyed and slammed his head between a pair of cymbals (to which Animal responded by saying "Uh, that's my kinda woman!", before passing out). In another episode, Animal became hostile toward Dudley Moore when Moore tried to replace the band with a programmable, music-playing robot. On another occasion, however, Animal is starstruck by James Coburn after the movie tough-guy demonstrates his own violent streak:
- Coburn: There's a right way and a wrong way to handle aggression...
- Animal: Aggression...
- Coburn: You don't want to bust a chair up like that - [takes the chair Animal is mauling] you bust it up like this! [smashes chair to bits on the staircase banister (forcing Animal to duck) and cooly walks back up to his dressing room]
- Animal: [eyes wide] My kinda guy! [races after him] Jimmy! Jimmy!
The pair are later heard exchanging tips on smashing stuff in Coburn's dressing room, and Animal charges in to help out his hero in a sketch, but doesn't manage well when Coburn tries teaching him meditation to calm down.
A common gag involves someone imparting a figure of speech to Animal: Animal turns to the audience, his eyes go wide and he goes berserk, taking the figure of speech literally. For example, Jim Nabors once spoke the traditional theatrical good luck wish, "Break a leg," whereupon Animal indulged him by trying to break Nabors' leg. Another gag would occasionally occur when the band plays a slow song: Animal will get about halfway through and then after announcing "Too slow!" launch into a faster paced version of the song. The band would usually comment that Animal lasted much longer than they thought he would.
Animal has been depicted as a literal skirt-chaser. In The Muppets Take Manhattan, he chases a female co-ed out of the auditorium, chanting "Woo-maaaan!" after her. He also chases cars. Sometimes his wild and crazy appearance, attitude and antics are used as the source of a joke by way of a reversal of what the audience might expect from Animal, such as in this piece of dialog from The Great Muppet Caper, where it is revealed that Animal has a passion for the impressionist paintings of Pierre-Auguste Renoir:
- Kermit the Frog: What's wrong with your drummer? He looks a little crazed.
- Zoot: Oh, he's just upset about missing the Rembrandt exhibit at The National Gallery.
- Animal: [Correcting him in a wild, angry tone] Renoir!!
In the movie Muppets from Space, Animal meets his match in the form of a security guard played by Kathy Griffin—after chasing her down a hallway with his "Woo-man" call, he later comes running back around the corner, yelling "HELP HELP!" with Griffin calling after him about how they'll settle down, buy a house, and have children.
Baby Animal made occasional cameos in Disney's House of Mouse.
In 2010, Animal was featured in a viral video alongside power-pop band OK Go, where he challenged the band's drummer, Dan Konopka, to a staring contest. Animal ultimately wins and forces Dan to be his roadie for a year. Also featured in the video are actor and comedian Zach Galifianakis and radio host Ira Glass, as spectators.
Animal is present in the 2011 film The Muppets, having gone into anger-management therapy since the Muppets broke up. He also made a special appearance on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as a guest drummer with the Roots house band.
Animal was featured on the #41 Target Dodge of Jimmy Spencer in the 2002 Tropicana 400 in an advertising campaign in which he and his fellow Muppets were featured on a select few NASCAR Nextel Cup Series race cars.
- "Drummerworld - Animal - Ronnie Verrell".
- "Myers 'to play' Who's Keith Moon". BBC News. 2005-09-30.
- Best of the Muppet Show volume 4, Time-Life Home Video, 2001
- "Thierry And 'Animal' Explain The Meaning Of Va Va Voom". carpages.co.uk. 2003-10-25.
- "New Muppet Stuff Extreme Makeover: Home Edition". toughpigs.com.
- "U.S. Snowboarders Have An 'Animal' Attraction". The Washington Post. 1997-06-11.
- "Jim Henson, Muppets, Get Stamps of Approval". usps.com. 2005-09-28.