11. Rita Moreno, “Fever”. There are many words that could be used to describe Animal, and “subtle” isn’t usually one of them. Except here, where Frank Oz actually manages to get him to express some deft comic skills. He’s supposed to quietly just hit the hi-hats here while Moreno sings, but he can’t help himself and interjects some spazzy fills every so often. These startle her, so she barks some commands at him in Spanish (which roughly translate to “cool it.”) Then he talks back at her almost under his breath while her back is turned and then quickly flashes an innocent look each time she turns to look at him. Some real actors have trouble pulling that move off, yet Animal pulls it with no problem.
12. Victor Borge, Lizst's Hungarian Rhapsody #2. Some Muppet Show sketches didn't amount to much more than a celebrity performer doing what he or she did best. This is the case here, as Borge does his silly classical music routine, with an assist from Rowlf, who gets in a solid line: "my Bach is worse than my bite."
13. Florence Henderson, “So Happy Together”. The joke here is that she’s singing the romantic duet with a gang of monsters, but it was inherently funny to watch Henderson operate in this episode. It’s one of the first ones from the show’s first season, and Henderson is acting like she had to take it upon herself to really sell what they were doing in Muppetland. She’s up there laughing at everything – both the muppets’ jokes and her own – in a painfully forced stage laugh. We picture her as the consummate pro on the set, shrugging off whatever advice Henson and company offered her.
14. Dizzy Gillespie, “St. Louis Blues”. After Kermit and Fozzie get rid of the pesky noise inspector, Gillespie performs a slickly-updated version of the standard with the ever-versatile Electric Mayhem. Dude can dance, too!
15. Raquel Welch, “Woman.” Miss Piggy pops in and turns this into a duet. Is it weird that we were secretly hoping for it to turn into a duel?
16. Rudolph Nureyev, "Putting On My Top Hat." This one is just surreal: he does the number, complete with a little tap routine, and then at the end wields his cane like a machine gun, shooting down the chorus line of Muppets who were backing him up. More bizarrely, they were principal cast members, like Kermit and Scooter, rather than the usual scrubs they would have normally employed in such a situation.
17. Arlo Guthrie, "Whoopi Ti." Guthrie, yet another perfect fit for the Muppets' brand of subversive, twisted humor, sings this to a group of cows, and explains the lyrics as best he can. This, naturally, horrifies them.
18. Crystal Gale, "We Must Believe In Magic." She sings this on top of a pirate ship, wearing a long gown. Plus there's those weirdly projected "ghost" muppets, surely the cutting edge of technology at the time.
19. Diana Ross, “Sweet Love Hangover”. Ross also performs the song straight, but she gets to dance with a few large, multi-colored birds. Not Big Bird. Different birds.
20. Leslie Uggams, "Love Will Keep Us Together." Big Bird does show up here, though. And his presence is welcome.