4. Miss Piggy & Tony Clifton. Probably the only time Andy Kaufman's surrealist lounge singer failed to incite an audience, if only because his schtick -- an embittered, washed-up entertainer whose only redeeming quality is his perverse dedication to formalist American showmanship, even if it engenders the audience's contempt -- had already been established as the Muppets natural metier. Kermit, in the control room, offers the same ambivalently optimistic half-praise he's bestowed on a long line of fish-jugglers, song-and-dance rejects, and crushed-velvet crooners: "Well, the audience seemed to like him." In the Muppets' universe, Tony Clifton was just another misguided singer who thought freestyle-rhyming words with "Kong" would make a great act.


5. Steve Martin, “Rambling Guy.” “How much was it to get in?”
“Free”
“Okay, you’re going to get your money’s worth on this!”
In the context of this episode, Martin was actually auditioning for a spot on the show, and in hopes of impressing Kermit and company, he also juggles and does some things with balloon animals. "Rambling Guy" is basically Steve Martin doing his Steve Martin thing on banjo, but that's certainly nothing to complain about. The reprise with the jug band and the all-food glee club at the end of the show is punctuated by someone getting shot out of a cannon. But that's the Muppets for you: even Steve Martin had to pull out all the stops to impress them.


6. Twiggy, “In My Life”. Twiggy steps away from an all-muppet press conference to sing this wistful ballad while a photo montage of her life is projected behind her. Sad, but not as sad as when they did the same thing with Nico and “These Days.” (Note: this never actually happened.)


7. Buddy Rich vs. Animal. The drum-off to end all drum-offs! After a while, Animal just starts looking on in awe, and then throws a snare at him in frustration.


8. Joan Baez, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken"


9. Paul Simon, "It's Been a Long Long Day", The last thing you'd expect on the Muppet Show -- where just about everything was lip-synched and guests' appearances were often calculated attempts to manufacture humility – was a great, moving performance. Baez and Simon were both folkies who needed image makeovers. Baez was an easy sell because she was a natural ham who felt at home doing Brando impersonations and telling off-color Ghandi jokes. Simon was induced to smile faintly while wearing Renaissance Faire garb. But they both connected in their backstage/dressing-room numbers: Baez leading a muppet singalong of an old gospel standard that carries a touching and oddly holy aura; Simon alone with his guitar in his dressing room, singing a quiet song to Pops.


10. Elton John, "Crocodile Rock." Nothing pleased the Muppets more than the opportunity to take some really stupid song lyric literally -- and it worked best in cases like this, where no one was quite sure what the singer was talking about in the first place. In the end, Elton is swallowed by his backup singers. Insert your favorite gay punchline here.

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