If you can’t laugh, you’d be crying. I don’t know who said that, but I think it applies to the comedy show that is our current White House administration. Come along with me, then, as I reimagine the major players on the national scene as Muppet characters. If you are like me and loved the Muppet Show troupe in all its iterations, you will see that the similarities are remarkable.
Enter stage right the President, aka The Swedish Chef. He is high-energy, has wild orange hair, and speaks a form of a language which does not exist. He seems quite oblivious to the fact that no one can understand him. He ends nearly every segment by letting loose of his cooking utensils that fly over his shoulders and ultimately destroy every piece of crockery in his kitchen. When I watch the President at the podium, or read his tweets, I fear for the crockery of our nation.
You can guess who Statler and Waldorf embody, or vice versa. That would be Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham. They heckle and wisecrack from their balcony box. That fits well with the manner in which these two are conducting the business of responding to the administration’s antics lately. Statler and Waldorf, crusty old guys, criticize all the performances for their lack of humor and quality, especially Fozzie’s, (aka Jeff Sessions. Read on). The Muppet
writers normally gave Statler and Waldorf the final words at the end of every episode. I’m okay with Graham and McCain having the final words on most issues. They seem pretty logical to me, it frightens me to say, but it could be just what stage they find themselves on these days. You take common sense where you can get it.
Now imagine that an apparently random commotion has just dragged your eyes off the stage to the aisles. There, you see little creatures making their way through the audience to take their seats, for which they have paid at least as much as the other audience members — in some cases, considerably more. They are led by none other than Pepe the King Prawn. When Pepe is not trying to establish that he is indeed a king prawn, and not a shrimp, he and his friends are fighting the threat of extradition to Mexico. Together, they have been labeled bad dudes and despicable criminals. Pepe argues otherwise, but the Chef and Gonzo don’t have functional ears.
Here, we find some members of the administration on display and ready to perform at the Muppet Theater. The Swedish Chef stands center stage, happily spouting his nonsensical language as he flings a spinning potato masher off stage right. On cue, enter Fozzie Bear. He has assumed the position of Attorney General, the chief law enforcement officer and lawyer for the United States of America. Fozzie, who is known for his awful jokes, trips over a cord but remains upright and grins preposterously as the Swedish Chef carries on about something that seems to involve Fozzie, although neither Fozzie or the audience can be certain. Fozzie awaits the end of the Swedish Chef’s rant, which is signaled by a turkey baster being hurled over the heads of the first three rows of audience members. Fozzie doffs his cap and lumbers off stage, smiling and waving. And that, my friends, is who is overseeing our legal system. It is all a bad joke.
Meanwhile in the orchestra pit, we find Dr. Teeth (Paul Ryan) leading the House of Representatives Band. He struggles without apparent success to find a tempo to which the Swedish Chef can stride about the stage. The Swedish Chef, however, seems oblivious to Dr. Teeth’s efforts until the end of the piece, at which point he graces the valiant Dr. Teeth with a toothless and completely annoying smirk. Dr. Teeth nods in abject gratitude and leads the band into something with a peppier beat. Again, the Swedish Chef ignores the tune. He appears completely tone deaf. Poor Paul Ryan. He must regret the day he said yes to the Speaker’s position.
Standing in the wings, smiling admiringly at the Swedish Chef who is at this moment singing in his non-existent language, is the Vice President, Mike Pence, aka Gonzo. He is at the ready to perform any bizarre act, even demolishing a car with a sledgehammer at the behest of the Swedish Chef. Despite the terribleness of the acts, the Swedish Chef asks Gonzo to perform what Gonzo views as artistic works of alchemy. He is sublimely clueless and could be our next commander-in-chief. Only a heartbeat protects us.
The Swedish Chef seems to have announced an intermission. The house lights have come up as an obviously reluctant figure is roughly shoved on stage to a microphone and podium. He attempts to run, but Gonzo drags him back. This character’s eyes are wild, but he tucks his tie in his jacket and checks to make certain the flag pin on his label is facing upright. He begins. It seems that Press Secretary Sean Spicer, played by the hapless Beaker, has the totally unenviable task of interpreting to the public what the Swedish Chef has been saying on stage. Sad Beaker. In the course of his relatively short time before the press, he has been punched, cloned, blown up, and shrunk. And yet he returns each day at intermission, convinced, it seems, that if he just picks the right words and repeats them repeatedly he will break through to the audience, and they will finally “get” what the Swedish Chef is talking about. Beaker gets mad sometimes, but who wouldn’t? Unbeknownst to him, there is a laugh track playing in the background that only the audience can hear.
Once the performance ends, mercifully, and Statler and Waldorf have pronounced their final acrimonious benediction, the audience members rise to depart. On the street outside the theater, they notice a once proud bird gasping for breath in the gutter. It is Sam the Eagle, the self-proclaimed moral center of the troupe within. His job is to bring clarity, vision, and a sense of reality to the performances we witness each day. Unfortunately, Sam the Eagle is losing the battle. His strength is waning. His feathers grow dull and drift away.
If only Sam the Eagle had a sense of humor.
He could laugh like many of us do. It keeps us from crying.