Statler and Waldorf

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Statler and Waldorf
The Muppets characters
Statler and Waldorf.jpg
Waldorf (left) and Statler (right)
First appearance The Muppet Show: Sex and Violence (1975)[1]
Created by Jim Henson
Performed by Statler: Richard Hunt (1976–1991)
Jerry Nelson (1975, 1992–2003)
Steve Whitmire (2002–2016)
Peter Linz (2017-present)
Waldorf: Jim Henson (1975–1990)
Dave Goelz (1992–present)
Information
Aliases Waldorf: P. Fenton Cosgrove, Uncle Waldorf, Robert Marley, Wally-D, Willy R
Statler: Uncle Statler, Jacob Marley, StatCat, Alan D
Species Muppet humans
Gender Males
Occupation Hecklers
Family None known, although Statler has more than one child
Spouse(s) Waldorf: Astoria
Statler: Unknown, although he has a wife
Nationality American

Statler and Waldorf are a pair of Muppet characters known for their cantankerous opinions and shared penchant for heckling. The two elderly men first appeared in The Muppet Show in 1975, where they consistently jeered the entirety of the cast and their performances from their balcony seats.

Created by Jim Henson, the characters have been performed by numerous puppeteers, including Henson, in a variety of films and television productions within the Muppet franchise. Statler and Waldorf are named after two New York City hotels, the Statler Hilton and the Waldorf-Astoria.

Characters[edit]

The characters are known for their heckling.[2] In The Muppet Show, the two were always criticizing Fozzie Bear's humour, except for one occasion where Fozzie heckled them back.[3] In contrast, they found themselves vastly entertaining and inevitably burst into mutual laughter at their own witticisms.[4] It is later revealed in the A Muppet Family Christmas special that the two hecklers were friends with Fozzie's mother, Emily Bear. Despite constantly complaining about the show and how terrible some acts were, they would always be back the following week in the best seats in the house. As to why, the original version of The Muppet Show theme song had Statler admitting, "I guess we'll never know."[5]

They also had a predisposition for breaking the fourth wall. Author Ben Underwood remarked on how the characters generally "blur the boundary between performer and audience", as they are "concurrently audience members and performers".[2] Underwood points to a second season incident in which the characters see themselves watching the Muppets, with Statler skeptical, saying "No one would watch junk like that".[2]

History[edit]

New York's Statler Hilton and Waldorf-Astoria, from which Statler and Waldorf's names are derived.

The puppets were designed by Bonnie Erickson.[6] They were named after two New York City hotels, the Statler Hilton and the Waldorf-Astoria.[7]

In "Sex and Violence," the pilot episode of The Muppet Show, Statler and Waldorf were performed by Jerry Nelson and Jim Henson, respectively. Nelson was unavailable for the first few weeks of production on The Muppet Show. As a result, Richard Hunt took on the role of Statler. Hunt and Henson would continue to perform the two characters until Henson's death in 1990. To portray the characters, Hunt and Henson shared very close space, often for hours at a time.[8]

Beginning with The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992), Statler and Waldorf were performed by Jerry Nelson and Dave Goelz, respectively.[9] When Jerry Nelson left the Muppets, citing health reasons,[10] Muppeteer Steve Whitmire took over as Statler. The two were occasionally performed by Drew Massey (Statler) and Victor Yerrid (Waldorf) in 2005 and 2006, most notably in the web series Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony.[11] Kevin Clash filled in for Goelz as Waldorf in a few episodes of Muppets Tonight.[12]

In 2017, Whitmire departed from the Muppets franchise, including the part of Statler,[13] after being unwillingly dismissed from the part of Kermit the Frog in October 2016.[14] While Matt Vogel was announced for the replacement for Kermit, Peter Linz had already replaced Whitmire as the voice of Statler in advertisements.[15][16]

Appearances[edit]

Statler and Waldorf also appeared (as adults) in the Saturday morning animated television series Muppet Babies. Both characters were voiced by Dave Coulier.[17]

In The Muppet Christmas Carol, they played the ghosts of Jacob and Robert Marley. Whereas the novel A Christmas Carol features only a Jacob Marley, creating a Robert allowed for including the two Muppets, and possibly also references Bob Marley.[18] When Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Michael Caine, accuses them of always criticizing him, they reply "We were always heckling you."[19] In Muppet Treasure Island, they were the figureheads of the Hispaniola. Statler complains about being stuck on the front of the ship, to which Waldorf replies it is better than being in the audience.[20]

In the 1996 series Muppets Tonight, based on a television rather than theatre show, Statler and Waldorf were shown watching the show at an assisted living facility, still making disparaging remarks. The duo are featured characters at Disney's Muppet*Vision 3D at Disney's Hollywood Studios as audio-animatronic Muppets helping Bean Bunny escape the theater and, of course, heckling the show. They also make a cameo appearance in Pixar's 2008 short film Presto, where they can be seen in their theater box.[21]

The Muppet Newsflash: A Jim Henson News Blog announced on September 17, 2009, that Statler and Waldorf would release a book titled From the Balcony in 2010.[22] However, the book was never released.

Statler and Waldorf appear in featured roles in The Muppets film.[23] They are shown in Kermit's old office where they inform evil oil baron, Tex Richman, that the only thing that could stop his purchase of The Muppet Theater would be Kermit raising $10 million.[24] They appear during one scene of the 2014 sequel Muppets Most Wanted. When the Muppets arrive in Berlin to perform at a run-down cabaret theater, marked by a sign reading "Die Muppets" ("The Muppets" in German), the two joke as to whether this is an early review or a suggestion. This scene is presented in the "Statler and Waldorf Cut" of the film in its home video release.[25]

They appear as audience members in The Muppets TV series.[26] The episode "Pig Out" features a B-plot focusing on Statler without Waldorf.

From the Balcony[edit]

Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony is a multi-award–winning web show which ran biweekly on Movies.com from June 2005 until September 2006.[27][11] The series spawned more than 35 episodes and featured many Muppet characters, both well-known classics and newly created characters. The two elderly curmudgeons would discuss upcoming films, watch the latest movie trailers and share the week's "balconism" from their theater box.

Guest appearances[edit]

Reception[edit]

In The Guardian, Hadley Freeman wrote "Not even celebrity guest Milton Berle could compete with their sharp banter. My heroes".[33] In 2014, Esquire's Nick Schager named them one of The 10 Most Entertaining Fictional Critics, writing "the funniest Muppets characters have always been Statler and Waldorf".[34] In 2015, The Huffington Post identified Statler and Waldorf as popular Muppets, and said to the fans who love them above others, "You know the best way to cope with life's difficulties is by laughing at someone else's expense".[35]

Commentators sometimes make comparisons between people and Statler and Waldorf in attention to, or preoccupation with, details,[36][37] "loud" opinion,[38] or "cantankerous" personality.[39] In 2012, Der Spiegel described the United Kingdom as "at best spectators in the gallery, like Statler and Waldorf", within Europe, drawing the ire of U.K. media.[40]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shemin 2014, p. 170.
  2. ^ a b c Underwood 2009, p. 21.
  3. ^ Underwood 2009, p. 23.
  4. ^ Yousufi 2015.
  5. ^ Kreider 2015, p. 97.
  6. ^ Fisher & Cox 2009, p. 186.
  7. ^ Conradt, Stacy (February 10, 2009). "Surprising stories behind 20 Muppet characters". CNN. Retrieved December 27, 2016. 
  8. ^ Jones 2013.
  9. ^ Brian Henson, Steve Whitmire (21 December 2015). "How we made: The Muppet Christmas Carol". The Guardian (Interview). Interview with Ben Beaumont-Thomas. Retrieved 25 December 2015. 
  10. ^ The Associated Press (August 27, 2012). "Jerry Nelson, Muppet Puppeteer, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Retrieved July 15, 2017. 
  11. ^ a b Terrace 2016, p. 272.
  12. ^ Roe, Ryan (March 8, 2016). "My Weeks with Muppets Tonight, Part 1: Michelle Pfeiffer & Garth Brooks". Tough Pigs. Retrieved July 15, 2017. 
  13. ^ Kurp, Josh (July 10, 2017). "The Long-Time Voice Of Kermit The Frog Has Left The Muppets Family". Uproxx. Retrieved July 10, 2017. 
  14. ^ Bruner, Raisa (July 12, 2017). "Former Kermit the Frog Puppeteer Speaks: 'I Am Devastated'". Time. Retrieved July 12, 2017. 
  15. ^ Gilyadov, Alex (July 12, 2017). "LONGTIME KERMIT THE FROG PERFORMER REPLACED". IGN. Retrieved July 12, 2017. 
  16. ^ Papadakis, Zoe (July 12, 2017). "Kermit the Frog Voice Steve Whitemire to Be Replaced by Matt Vogel". Newsmax. Retrieved August 29, 2017. 
  17. ^ "MUPPET BABIES : SEASON 4". Metacritic. Retrieved July 12, 2017. 
  18. ^ Glavin 2017.
  19. ^ Brian Henson (Director); Jerry Juhl (December 11, 1992). The Muppet Christmas Carol (Motion picture). It's good to be doing anything again! 
  20. ^ Brian Henson (Director) (February 16, 1996). Muppet Treasure Island (Motion picture). Well, it could be worse. We could be stuck in the audience! 
  21. ^ "PHOTO: Statler & Waldorf cameo in Pixar’s short "Presto"". ilovemuppets.com. August 20, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2012. 
  22. ^ "Statler & Waldorf Book". The Muppet Newsflash: A Jim Henson News Blog, September 17, 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. 
  23. ^ Jones, JR (2011). "The Muppets". Chicago Reader. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  24. ^ James Bobin (Director); Jason Segel; Nicholas Stoller (November 4, 2011). The Muppets (Motion picture). 
  25. ^ Fienberg, Daniel (September 17, 2015). "'The Muppets': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  26. ^ Alexander, Bryan (July 29, 2014). "Exclusive: Statler and Waldorf cut of 'Muppets' movie". USA Today. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  27. ^ "Movies.com and the Muppets Launch Exclusive Movie Review Program from World Famous Muppet Hecklers, Statler and Waldorf". Business Wire. June 24, 2005. Retrieved July 12, 2017. 
  28. ^ Staff (June 25, 2002). "WEEZER COLLABORATE WITH KERMIT THE FROG, MISS PIGGY". MTV. Retrieved July 13, 2017. 
  29. ^ "Statler & Waldorf Heckle Obama". NBC.com. 
  30. ^ Stroud, Brandon (November 11, 2011). "The Best And Worst Of WWE Raw 10/31: Muppets, The Rock and Mortal Kombat". Uproxx. Retrieved July 13, 2017. 
  31. ^ Downey, Ryan J. (January 12, 2012). "CRITICS' CHOICE MOVIE AWARDS CELEBRATE 'THE HELP'". MTV. Retrieved July 13, 2017. 
  32. ^ "Secret Policeman's Ball gets American debut". The Daily Telegraph. March 5, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2017. 
  33. ^ Freeman, Hadley (November 23, 2011). "The Muppets: who's who". The Guardian. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  34. ^ Schager, Nick (July 2, 2014). "The 10 Most Entertaining Fictional Critics". Esquire. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  35. ^ Ferreras, Jesse (July 16, 2015). "What Your Favourite Muppet Character Says About You". The Huffington Post. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  36. ^ Stevens, Dana (November 22, 2011). "Welcome Back, Kermit". Slate.com. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  37. ^ Newell, Jim (December 22, 2015). "Ted Cruz Is the Consummate Political Pundit". Slate.com. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  38. ^ Newman, Jason (May 5, 2015). "Noel Gallagher Sounds Off on Tidal, Zayn Malik and Same-Sex Marriage". Rolling Stone. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  39. ^ Gullan, Scott (April 11, 2017). "Jack Ziebell’s attempt to jump plane queue leaves North teammates bemused". Herald Sun. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 
  40. ^ Taylor, Adam (October 16, 2012). "The British Are Angry After Der Spiegel Referred To Them As Europe's 'Muppets'". Business Insider. Retrieved July 14, 2017. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Fisher, Maryanne; Cox, Anthony (2009). "Adaptation and Performance". Kermit Culture: Critical Perspectives on Jim Henson’s Muppets. Jefferson, North Carolina and London: McFarland. ISBN 0786453753. 
  • Glavin, John, ed. (2017). Dickens Adapted. Routledge. ISBN 1351944568. Retrieved July 14, 2017 – via Google Books. 
  • Jones, Brian Jay (2013). Jim Henson: The Biography. Random House Publishing Group. ISBN 0345526139. Retrieved 13 July 2017 – via Google Books. 
  • Kreider, Evan (2015). "Muppets and Mimesis". Jim Henson and Philosophy: Imagination and the Magic of Mayhem. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 1442246650. 
  • Shemin, Craig (2014). Disney's The Muppets Character Encyclopedia. New York: DK Publishing. ISBN 9781465417480. 
  • Terrace, Vincent (2016). Internet Comedy Television Series, 1997–2015. McFarland. ISBN 1476623937. 
  • Underwood, Ben (2009). "How to Become a Muppet". Kermit Culture: Critical Perspectives on Jim Henson’s Muppets. Jefferson, North Carolina and London: McFarland. ISBN 0786453753. 
  • Yousufi, Mushtaq Ahmed (2015). "Introduction". Mirages of the Mind. New Directions Publishing. ISBN 0811224147.