Monday, February 9, 2009

The Comedy Career of Fozzie Bear

Age 16: Encouraged by friends who repeatedly say, “You know, you’re really funny” and “Few puppet bears can quote Nichols & May routines verbatim,” Fozzie Bear attends his first open mic night. His jokes about curfews and scatological references to Lincoln Logs fail to engage the hard-drinking 3 A.M. crowd but comedy club owners are quickly taken by his willingness to Simonize their cars in exchange for stage time.

Age 18: Fozzie attends Fordham University to earn a political science degree but soon starts spending more hours in downtown comedy clubs than in class. He hones an extended riff about the time he tried mushrooms and shaved off some his fur, only to realize that fabric rarely, if ever, grows back.

Age 20: Fozzie drops out of college to focus solely on his stand-up career. He begins dabbling in anti-comedy, singing the fine copy of Maytag dryer warranties. What he gains in notoriety he loses in laughs and bookings. Fozzie also starts to DJ at a Lower East Side bar. It’s there that he meets future singer/songwriter Paul Williams, then concertina player for a pre-thrash Husker Du.

Age 22: Fozzie reworks routine yet again, focusing on inability to figure out women, impressions of famous people doing ordinary tasks and the inanities of travel. He immediately lands a slot on The Tonight Show. Emboldened by the fortuitous turn in his career, Fozzie uses his five minutes of airtime to muse on what the mythology of Count Chocula would be like if written by Anne Rice. Carson does not invite him to sit by his side at routine’s end.

Age 24: Destitute and desperate, Fozzie is about to take a real estate agent license test when he receives a callback for a commercial spokesperson gig. His resulting tagline, “I don’t go in the woods, I go in an American Standard toilet” gets him the attention of then-NBC President Fred Silverman, who signs him to a sitcom deal.

Age 25: NBC announces the fall premiere of Fozzie, about a leather-jacketed cool guy who always gets the women, tools around on a motorcycle and turns on appliances by hitting them. Gary Marshall sues for intellectual theft before a single scene is shot.

Age 27: CBS picks up the sitcom Grin & Bear It, starring Fozzie as a happy-go-lucky social worker tending to two children—Rodney Allen Rippy and Mason Reese, playing themselves if only to negate the need to write character backstories. Audience reaction to the test pilot is violent at best. The series is reworked and reconceived several times before eventually airing as Barnaby Jones, starring Buddy Ebsen. Fozzie fires his agent, manager and spiritual advisor.

Age 29: Fearing he has blown any and all opportunities to achieve a career in comedy, Fozzie tries his hand at dramatic acting. His one-person reimagining of Ibsen’s A Doll House not only proves spectacularly ill-conceived but also heavily cribbed from the movie The Deep, down to his repeated mention of actress Jacqueline Bisset.

Age 30: While toiling as a janitor at a Burger Chef, Fozzie is introduced by Paul Williams to Kermit the Frog, a fast-rising comedy star who just landed a deal with a British production company for The Muppet Show (initially pitched as "Laugh-In meets Animal Farm, minus the political screed”) Fozzie auditions for the role of crotchety audience member Statler but instead lands the much larger role of Fozzie Bear, in part thanks to his “almost preternatural understanding” of the character.

Age 31: The Muppet Show airs and immediately becomes a worldwide sensation. While less than thrilled with the vaudevillian-style jokes he is required to cite, Fozzie is ecstatic to finally be able to afford his own car, home and mescaline.

Age 32: Worried that the show’s family-friendly content could have a negative impact on his grittier stand-up career, Fozzie pushes for more experimental humor. He and Kermit eventually come to blows over a proposed skit about ursine gynecologists. Fozzie is dropped from two episodes. The skit is retooled as “Veterinarian’s Hospital.”

Age 34: Fozzie starts bad-mouthing Kermit in the press, calling him a “sell out” and “slave to mass market needs.” The acrimony spills over to the filming of The Muppet Movie, during which Fozzie takes a nasty swipe at Kermit only to inadvertently maul Paul Williams, resulting in six less songs on the soundtrack.

Age 36: The Great Muppet Caper goes way over budget when Fozzie demands and gets an extended musical number featuring then-girlfriend Pia Zadora and a song by Meatloaf lyricist Jim Steinman. The 23-minute tune, “I Want to Give You My Heart but That Would Take Away My Life” is eventually cut and the footage burned.

Age 39: Strung out on mescaline and bitterness, Fozzie requires multiple takes during the shooting of The Muppets Take Manhattan. His startling lack of professionalism raises the ire of first-time director/screenwriter David Mamet who, unhappy with the final product, opts for credit under an assumed name.

Age 42: Fozzie checks himself into rehab, mostly for the industry contacts. The Muppets momentarily break up while Kermit and first wife Miss Piggy try to start a family much to the horror of animal geneticists.

Age 43: Fozzie stars in Mannequin 4 with then-girlfriend Judy Tenuta. The movie is never run, broadcast or mentioned by film historians.

Age 44: Fozzie returns to his stand-up roots, longing to try out material deemed far too risqué under Jim Henson’s management. The years, however, have been unkind to Fozzie’s comedic stylings as he finds his once-taboo material is now best suited for children’s parties.

Age 45: In dire need for cash but unable to work with Kermit, Fozzie sells all rights to his name to Walt Disney Company. Another puppet bear assumes the role of “Fozzie” in The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz and Muppet Medea.

Age 46—51: Whereabouts unknown. Rumors swirl of death by drug overdose, autoerotic asphyxiation or hunter.

Age 52: Reappears with one-man show about missing years and critical backlash titled, “Lost and Frowned.” Show garners huge audiences, great acclaim and top honors at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A critical darling, Fozzie can once more pursue his artistic ambitions.

Age 53: Fozzie signs to play the absent-minded dad in the new ABC Family sitcom With Three You Get Triplets .


D.B. Echo said...

At least he managed to avoid going the way of those other fat funny men, John Candy and Chris Farley.

I understand a biopic is planned, starring Andrew "Dice" Clay.

crs said...

I think you accidentally published Bill Murray's career.

johnbpt said...

Hilarious! One nit to pick, of course: JIM Steinman.

johnbpt said...

Wow, that was a fast fix!

jfruh said...

Fozzie: "Once there was a sailor who was so fat..."

Angry Fat Sailor: "How fat was he?" [breaks bottle]

Fozzie: "Um, he was so fat that everybody loved him and there was nothing funny about him at all."

Andy Jukes said...

Judy Tenuta! Hah!

Bob said...

Mason Reese AND Rodney Allen Rippy mentions in one post? Brilliant!!