11/24/1976 – ‘Mummenschanz (MS)’

The founding trio of the Swiss mime-masque company Mummenschanz (Andres Bossard, Florianna Prassetto and Bernie Schurch) was an obvious choice for Jim as guest stars on The Muppet Show. Jim’s immense interest in the varied forms of puppetry and theater performance would have made this troupe a particular favorite, and he would have seen his show as a great venue for celebrating their creativity. Their inventive use of toilet paper, note pads, ice-cube trays, flower pots and other mundane items in their mask-making supported powerful performances that tickled their audiences. The abstract nature of the work appealed to Jim whose first characters were meant to be somewhat abstract in nature. Jim was also interested in visual artistic expression that didn’t require words; over the years, he pitched various projects that married images to music without dialogue. Florianna Prassetto’s description of their work underlines why it appealed to Jim: “Our work is like poetry. It’s open to any number of interpretations, and everyone in the audience tends to view it in his own way – we like this ambiguity, we don’t want things to be too simple, too pat. Mystery is important.”

Masked performers from Mummenschanz on The Muppet Show, 1976.

Read more from Jim Henson’s Red Book in Imagination Illustrated: The Jim Henson Journal available from Chronicle Books.

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