While it’s a simple one, this has to be one of my favourite clips from the Muppett Show.

It’s a simple gag up until the middle of the clip. Realizes the moon is there, so it’s a take until that point. While in many cases a take is usually the climax on a gag, I thought everything pass the take on this case, was when I got most enjoyment out of this clip:

00:00:00: The clip starts. The muppett is playing piano. This is already fun to watch for me personally, because I love piano and I love muppetts. He’s so into it (and following the notes) that is starting to be somewhat enterntaining to me as he hits each note.
00:00:15: That slow head turn right before the take is a stronger choice than if the head turn had regular timing. The slow head turn’s subtext almost makes the character say “what’s…going on…next to me?”. Also adds a bit of personality trait to the character to me. He’s so focused on playing piano that almost doesn’t want to get distracted, but wants to start looking at what’s happening behind him.
00:00:17: The take, reassures that something is indeed happening behind him. But that take has stronger effect because of that slow head turn previously. What it does is to break up timing, and adding contrast to it.
00:00:18-23: He’s staring at the moon. Nice choice to just hold that moment. Nice acting as well from the point of view that having him staring at the moon for long, is making him seem not as quick or smart in getting what’s going on. Additionally, from a clarity point of view, it switches our focus of attention from the moon (visual), back to the piano music (sound) now that’s the song is getting out of tune.
00:00:23: Again another slow head turn, this time almost implying “ok, where were we…”
This head turn is reinforced with him looking at his hand…then following into looking at the actual piano, therefore making the connection that he’s messing up. At this moment, he’s so nervous he’s biting his left hand, and the timing is quick. Yet, he’s still playing the piano (while messing up) adding a big sense of urgency.
00:00:27: The choice of him passing the page back trying to figure out how to get back to the proper notes is a really enterntaining one. The scratching of the head, while it could be considered a cliche acting choice nowadays, in this case it adds to the personality treat of this character not being as smart/quick in quick decisions. Therefore it still works to me.
00:00:35: Pay attention to the tiny little head nods of the character. The subtext of those I’m reading them as “Ok, ok, I got it I got it now…”. They are small, quick and subtle but do make a difference.
00:00:36: After that he gets back to playing the piano. Additionally there are more fun little bits. He goes from broadly playing piano to going smaller and smaller until the very last key.
Nice texture throughout the whole thing.

It’s amazing what you get to learn from the Muppetts. From timing, to personality, to simplicity, etc. Regardless of this being Muppetts, it’s still acting. After these many years, a lot of these scenes still hold up, the comedy value is excellent and it’s still really strong stuff to learn from.

Have a good week.