What’s been your most memorable experience on the show?
What always stands out in my mind is when Stevie Wonder came on the show to perform ‘Superstition.’ Everybody was so excited – older people, kids, black people, white people. Everybody was grooving to this song and I thought the set was going to fly off the planet.
Any Muppet mishaps that come to mind? A lot of them. There is the one story I always tell of the time that Big Bird took the top half of his suit off not knowing there was a child on set. And the kid said, ‘Mommy does Big Bird know there’s a man in him?’ It’s hard for the puppets to make a mistake the kids are going to catch, because I’ve seen kids walk up to puppets hanging in closets or sitting on a stand and have a conversation. Kids just believe they’re alive.
Is there a Muppet you’ve taken a shine to?
Yes, I’m in love with Oscar the Grouch. I always have been.
He’s in love with you, too.
Yes, I know. It’s a secret affair. I think that particular character appeals to me because you’re either talking to an eight-year-old or a 48-year-old. When I was a writer for the show, he was one of my favorites to write for. He gave me the opportunity to have a negative quality in something, and any drama needs something negative to fight against – you could put him in that position. There’s somebody for everybody and Oscar’s for me.
Can you tell me three things that people may not know about Maria?
She really didn’t know how to fix anything the whole time she ran the fix-it shop with Luis. She’s in love with Oscar. And she also loves getting hit in the face with a pie. I didn’t know I could be so funny getting hit with water or a pie – and for awhile there I was getting hit four times a season. I really like doing those big broad gags.