The first round of the Muppet performance bracket was — for the most part — pretty unsurprising. I’m sure the voters are going to upend expectations at some point, but not yet.
Now that we have a second round, though, it’s high time for me to reveal what I would send to the Sweet Sixteen.
(1) Michael Caine, The Muppet Christmas Carol vs. (9) Edgar Bergen, The Muppet Movie: There will almost certainly come a point in this competition when I struggle with a vote featuring Caine. Not today.
(5) Dom DeLuise, The Muppet Movie vs. (4) Chris Cooper, The Muppets: This is a closer battle for me, if only because DeLuise is a lot of fun in his brief time on screen. But Cooper doing a goofy old-white-man rap plus the repeated “Maniacal laugh!” bit is enough to send him through.
(6) Carol Kane, The Muppet Movie vs. (3) Austin Pendleton, The Muppet Movie: On one hand, Pendleton has a lot more to do. But Kane has one of the great running gags in a Muppet movie. “Yeth?” is one of those jokes that lives in my head rent-free. Kane gets it.
(7) Jack Warden, The Great Muppet Caper vs. (2) Diana Rigg, The Great Muppet Caper: Running gags do a lot for me, which is why I’m voting for Warden even though Rigg has a lot more to do in Caper and she’s funny to boot. Sorry, Dame.
(1) Charles Durning, The Muppet Movie vs. (8) Cloris Leachman, The Muppet Movie: Charles Durning made for an excellent first villain in The Muppet Movie. He doesn’t get a song of his own, but it’s a truly silly role that he dove into with gusto. Durning moves on.
(5) Mel Brooks, The Muppet Movie vs. (4) Billy Connolly, Muppet Treasure Island: I adore Muppet Treasure Island, and Connolly is extremely funny in the early going. But Mel Brooks’ hamminess and glee in playing with the Muppets is too good for me to look past. Hell, I might send him further than the next round.
(11) Jack Black, The Muppets vs. (3) Steve Martin, The Muppet Movie: Two musically gifted comedians enter the room, but only Steve Martin will move on. This one’s no contest.
(10) Emily Blunt, The Muppets vs. (2) Amy Adams, The Muppets: While Adams is criminally underused in The Muppets, she’s still delightful and deserves to move on. For now.
(1) Charles Grodin, The Great Muppet Caper vs. (9) Elliott Gould, The Muppet Movie: I kind of wish James Coburn had moved on here instead, because I might’ve given it to him to move to the next round. As it is, while I like Elliott Gould, he’s got little to do in the first Muppet movie (unlike that now-Twitter-famous TV Guide cover). Grodin gets it.
(12) Ray Liotta, Muppets Most Wanted vs. (4) Meredith Braun, The Muppet Christmas Carol: I begrudgingly give this to Meredith Braun, because she has a very nice singing voice. But Liotta’s really funny in Muppets Most Wanted.
(6) John Cleese, The Great Muppet Caper vs. (3) Ricky Gervais, Muppets Most Wanted: Color me surprised that Hugh Bonneville nearly beat out Ricky Gervais in the first round, for a cameo where he says fewer words than are in this sentence. Anyway, Gervais is fine in Muppets Most Wanted, but I’m giving this to Cleese for his deadpan delivery.
(7) Richard Pryor, The Muppet Movie vs. (2) Jason Segel, The Muppets: This one is going to break my heart, because I have a feeling I know who will win here, versus who should win. Pryor should win. He’s funny and weird in just a couple short minutes. But Segel will win, in spite of The Muppets — 10 years on — arguably not holding up very well because it feels like they’re supporting players in his vanity project. I vote for Pryor, defiantly.
(1) Tim Curry, Muppet Treasure Island vs. (9) Bob Hope, The Muppet Movie: Curry. No question. Let’s move on.
(5) Jennifer Saunders, Muppet Treasure Island vs. (4) Orson Welles, The Muppet Movie: I like Mrs. Bluberidge and all, but Orson Welles is Orson Welles. He wins here.
(6) Peter Falk, The Great Muppet Caper vs. (3) Ty Burrell, Muppets Most Wanted: Falk gets this one easily.
(7) Madeline Kahn, The Muppet Movie vs. (2) Tina Fey, Muppets Most Wanted: I wrestle here with the fact that one of these women is barely on screen for her performance, with the fact that Madeline Kahn is, let’s say, one of the two or three funniest women to have ever lived. (There’s her, Catherine O’Hara, and Gilda Radner at the top of my list.) She’s barely in it, but I cannot vote against Madeline Kahn.