- “Wocka wocka!”
- ―Fozzie Bear's catchphrase
Fozzie Bear is a Muppet bear comedian. He is the best friend of Kermit the Frog. Throughout The Muppet Show, Fozzie was known to have told jokes and punctuate them with his catchphrase "Wocka wocka wocka!" only to have them heckled by his mother's old friends Statler and Waldorf. He is also the son of Emily Bear and Mr. Bear. Even in his young days, Fozzie wanted to be a comedian. On frequent occasions, Fozzie teamed with Rowlf the Dog.
During the first season of The Muppet Show, Fozzie's monologues usually consisted of Fozzie telling simple setup/punchline jokes, while being heckled by Statler and Waldorf. After the first season, most of his monologues relied on gimmicks such as telling jokes on roller skates. A common schtick in many episodes is that Fozzie would attempt to imitate the guest star's most famous act in an attempt to emulate their success, only to comically fail completely at that attempt. For instance, Bergen Edgar Bergen inspired him to try ventriloquism while stage magician Doug Henning inadvertently convinced Fozzie to try his hand at being a magician.
In Jim Henson: The Works, Christopher Finch wrote: "One of the biggest problems [with the first season] was with Fozzie Bear. Fozzie was crucial to The Muppet Show because he was conceived as Frank Oz's main character and the success of the show would depend on to a significant degree on Frank having the opportunity to display the full range of his virtuoso performance and comedic skills.
"It was logical to have a comedian as a primary character on The Muppet Show, particularly once The Muppet Theater had been established as its basic setting. And given the spirit of the Muppets, it was almost inevitable that he would be a bad comedian. The problem with Fozzie was that his bad jokes and failure to win over an audience provoked more embarrassment than sympathy. For instance, in episode 122, Fozzie gets so fed up with the heckling that he demands everyone but true Fozzie fans leave the auditorium. As a result, the seats are left completely empty; even Fozzie's own cousin leaves; Fozzie departs the stage almost in tears.
"Jerry Juhl and Frank Oz gradually transformed Fozzie by building up the positive aspects of his personality. They allowed his perpetual optimism to offset his onstage failures until he became a more rounded character. Fozzie's virtues ultimately made his ineptness acceptable—and even endearing. So successful was this metamorphosis that he became one of the most popular of all the Muppets."
As an infant, like many of the Muppets, Fozzie was under the care of Nanny (as seen in Muppet Babies). Fozzie's mother, however, kept some early home videos of Fozzie and the other Muppets, as shown in A Muppet Family Christmas.
As a kid, Fozzie was raised by his mom and dad, along with his baby brother Freddie. Fozzie grew up right next door to his best friend Kermit and often spent time with his grandpa. Even as a baby, Fozzie always had an interest in becoming a comedian.
Fozzie became a stand-up comic at the El Sleezo Cafe, where Kermit invited him to come to Hollywood to become famous. Fozzie took his uncle's car, which was left to him while his uncle hibernated, and the pair set out for California. However, if Fozzie had never met Kermit, he would have ended up becoming a skilled pick-pocket (so good that he could pick the pocket of someone without pants).
Fozzie and Kermit
Since the early days of The Muppet Show, Fozzie has often interacted with Kermit. Fozzie got Kermit to reluctantly assist him for one of his best-known monologs, "Good Grief! The Comedian's a Bear!" and also had quite a bit of interaction with Kermit backstage. The two have since been best friends.
In episode 115, Fozzie constantly annoyed Kermit with a running gag, delivering a number of pun items, such as a "wire" and a "letter" for Kermit the Frog which turned out to be a clothes wire and the letter R, respectively.
In episode 114, Fozzie performed the supposedly famous "Banana Sketch." When Kermit confessed that he didn't know what "The Banana Sketch" was, the cast and guest star Duncan Sandy Duncan teased him for his ignorance.
Kermit and Fozzie have also frequently been paired together in countless movies, books, and specials. In Muppet Movie The Muppet Movie, Fozzie was the first Muppet Kermit met on his journey. After Fozzie's unsuccessful comedy performance at the El Sleezo Cafe, Kermit invited Fozzie to come to Hollywood with him. The two friends sang the duet "Movin' Right Along" in the same film.
Fozzie and Rowlf
Fozzie was also frequently teamed up with the Dog Rowlf, beginning in episode 101 of The Muppet Show, in which Fozzie played a bandit opposite Rowlf's saloon piano playing hero in the Western sketch "Cowboy Time." Fozzie also appeared as a patient in two Veterinarian's Hospital sketches, in which Rowlf starred as Dr. Bob.
In episode 218, Rowlf learned that Fozzie could play the piano (a talent Fozzie didn't know he had, either), and they played a duet of "English Country Garden." Rowlf has also played back-up to Fozzie's renditions of "Hi-Diddle-Dee-Dee (An Actor's Life For Me)" and "I Got Rhythm." During the latter number, Rowlf attempted to help Fozzie with his singing.
The young incarnations of Fozzie and Rowlf were also frequently paired together on Muppet Babies.
Working For Fozzie
Fozzie's agent, introduced in episode 122 of The Muppet Show, is Irving Bizarre, who is so short that his top hat covers most of his body. Fozzie also has a hired writer, Gags Beasley, who was first mentioned in Episode 114. Fozzie and Gags have a deal, whereby Fozzie pays his writer by the laugh.
According to Frank Oz, "[Fozzie] can't afford good joke writers, and he can't write good jokes himself."
Although Fozzie's main job on The Muppet Show is to be the stand-up comedian, he takes on the occasional dramatic role and often assists backstage. He appears in sketches with guest stars Avery Schreiber and Nancy Walker and he also appears in the recurring sketch Bear on Patrol.
In episode 201, Kermit let Fozzie help plan the show. His abilities in doing so earned him the title of "Honorary Hip Dude" from the Electric Mayhem band. Sadly, his planning also later lost him that title. Then, when Kermit becomes sick in episode 206, Fozzie is put in charge of hosting the show, which proves quite taxing for the bear.
Fozzie had also made an attempt to write for the show in episode 314 when he decided that the show needed a script. Unfortunately, Fozzie is either a bad speller or a bad typist (or both), as Kermit found it difficult to read the introductions that Fozzie wrote for him. Fozzie later admitted that he was a bad speller when he wrote the word "Muffets" as part of the title card for The Muppets Go to the Movies.
The Muppet Movie
Fozzie first performed at El Sleezo Cafe in front of a booing crowd. Kermit helps Fozzie entertain the crowd by dancing. After a fight, Kermit invites Fozzie to come to Hollywood. The frog and bear took Fozzie's Studebaker and head out to Hollywood. They were stopped by Doc Hopper who offers Kermit a deal at being a commercial for his frog legs and Kermit refuses and they drive off.
Kermit and Fozzie stopped at an old church, where they meet Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem and Scooter. They helped the pair by painting the Studebaker so Doc Hopper won't recognize them and it worked. Later, Kermit and Fozzie ran into Gonzo and his chicken girlfriend Camilla who were going to Bombay, India to become movie stars, which is the wrong way. The group stopped at Mad Man Mooney's (Milton Berle) Hubcap Heaven for a new car and continued their journey, not knowing that Sweetums wanted to come with them.
They stopped at a county fair where they meet Miss Piggy, who lay eyes on Kermit. A while on the road, after Rowlf joined the group, their car broke down and they are stuck in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, Dr. Teeth, the Electric Mayhem, and Scooter arrived and gave them a ride on their bus.
The gang stopped at an old ghost town, where they meet Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and his assistant Beaker and Kermit had a showdown with Doc Hopper. Just as his men were about to killed them, they were scared by a large Animal who ate Bunsen's instant grow pills.
The Muppets finally made to Hollywood and Lew Lorde prepared the "standard rich and famous contract for Kermit the Frog and company". They made the movie of how this happened before. After the chaos, Kermit sees the rainbow connection and the Muppets' dreams have come true.
Fozzie Bear hosted a recurring segment on Little Muppet Monsters called "Fozzie's Comedy Corner", in which he discussed certain jokes, mainly those involving chickens.
Fozzie Bear only appeared in a handful of episodes of The Jim Henson Hour. One of his most notable appearances was in the Monster Telethon episode, in which Fozzie decided to give up comedy and become a weather bear. He went to the set of The Today Show to get some tips from the show's weatherman, Willard Scott, only to inadvertently lock Scott in a closet. With Scott locked in the closet, Fozzie came on-stage to report the weather, but had trouble reporting and went back to comedy.
During the early 1990s, Fozzie appeared less frequently, usually in supporting roles and often wearing a wig. In The Muppet Christmas Carol, he made a cameo appearance as Scrooge's employer Fozziwig. Shortly afterward, he appeared in one sketch in Muppet Classic Theater, portraying the title character in The Emperor's New Clothes.
In Muppet Treasure Island, he had a more substantial role as Squire Trelawney, who financed the voyage and hired the crew, based on Long John Silver's suggestions. In this movie, Fozzie's character referred to and often spoke to a tiny man named Mr. Bimbo, who lived inside his finger.
Fozzie made an appearance in Muppets from Space which is also owned by Sony Pictures.
On Muppets Tonight, Fozzie made quite a few appearances, but was less integral to the series, with most of his appearances being in sketch roles. He appeared with Kermit and Billy Crystal in a sketch called City Schtickers, with John Goodman and Miss Piggy in a Honeymooners parody called The Lunar Mooners and in a recurring sketch called EIEIO-R, portraying a doctor who told jokes, similar to Rowlf's role as Dr. Bob. Fozzie's only backstage appearances were in episode 109, in which he watched one of Whoopi Goldberg's acts and wrote down some of her jokes, and in episode 204 where he helped cheer up guest star Pierce Brosnan.
Back in the Spotlight
Fozzie became more of a major character again in Muppets from Space. He was part of the main cast and was the one who drove the Electric Mayhem Bus. He also got to work with Kermit again, reviving a pairing which had been absent for most of the 1990's.
He was also a major presence in It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, which was Eric Jacobson's first major performance as Fozzie (along with other Frank Oz Muppet characters). Unlike many of his 1990's appearances, in which Fozzie was written as a rather dim-witted bear, he was depicted as more intelligent again, with humor coming from his devotion to the other Muppets. When Pepe revealed that Rachel Bitterman changed the contract for payment of The Muppet Theater, Fozzie chose to cancel his big Christmas monolog in order to hand-deliver a payment in an attempt to save the theater. Later in the film, when Kermit saw what life would have been like if he hadn't been born, it was revealed that the Fozzie Bear of the Kermit-free world would've become a pickpocket.
Shortly afterward, Fozzie would have a major role as The Cowardly Lion in Muppets' Wizard of Oz The Muppets Wizard of Oz and he got his own track, "North Pole Comedy Club", in the album A Green and Red Christmas.
In the 2 pilot episodes of the Muppet Show, Fozzie had a mechanism which allowed his cheeks to move. During the remainder of the first season, Fozzie was a bit more plump and had ears that wiggled.
When Fozzie was rebuilt for the second season of the Muppet Show; he was given a brighter orange hue, a tighter overall design and a less "dopey" appearance. A special mechanism allowed his eyebrows to move, but that effect was barely noticeable, especially when he wore his hat. This eyebrow feature was removed when he was replaced with yet another puppet, just seven episodes into the second season.
- Fozzie was named after puppet builder Faz Fazakas, who created the mechanism that allowed Fozzie to wiggle his ears.
- His film appearances in The Muppets Take Manhattan and Muppets from Space are both owned by Sony Pictures, It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie is owned by NBCUniversal, the other Muppet movies are owned by Disney (along with the rest of the Muppet franchise).
- When Eric Jacobson voiced the dentist in Big City Greens using his Fozzie Bear voice, Fozzie Bear was credited as the actual voice actor.
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