|The Muppets character|
|First appearance||The Muppet Show (1976)|
|Created by||Jim Henson|
|Family||Emily Bear (mother) Rozzie Bear (sister)|
Fozzie Bear is a Muppet character best known for his ineffective stand-up comedy skills. Fozzie is an orange bear who often wears a brown pork pie hat and a pink and white polka dot necktie. The character debuted on The Muppet Show, as the show's stand-up comic, a role where he uses the catchphrase "Wocka wocka!" to indicate that he'd completed a joke. He was often the target of ridicule, particularly from balcony hecklers Statler and Waldorf. Fozzie was performed by Frank Oz until 2001, after which Eric Jacobson became the character's principal performer.
The origin of Fozzie's name has been traditionally thought to be a pun of performer Frank Oz's name (F.Oz). It was also believed that the character was actually named after Al Fuzzie, the mascot of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority in the mid-1970s; Henson's wife, Jane, was a member of the sorority. However, Oz confirmed on Twitter in 2018 that Fozzie was named after Franz Fazakas, a Muppet workshop person, who was nicknamed "Faz".
Fozzie Bear was originally Oz's main character. The popularity of Miss Piggy overtook Fozzie's, but he remained popular. One of his largest roles ever was in A Muppet Family Christmas, where he took all of his friends to his mother's farm for Christmas.
In 1988, Fozzie was featured in the VHS release Hey, You're as Funny as Fozzie Bear, part of the Jim Henson Company's "Play-Along Video" series. In the video, Fozzie instructs young viewers in various comedy techniques. The concept for the "Play-Along Video" came from Jim Henson's idea that television could be used as an interactive medium and encourage children's creativity.
During the 1990s, his roles became much smaller, due to the fact that Oz had turned his focus to directing non-Muppet films and reduced his time with the Muppets. Fozzie was only a supporting character in the Muppet films of that decade and only appeared in six episodes of Muppets Tonight. However, he returned to prominence when Eric Jacobson took over in 2002, beginning with It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, in which Fozzie was the focus of a number of scenes.
An original puppet is kept in the teddy bear museum in Newby Hall near Ripon, UK.
Frank Oz first performed Fozzie in 1976 on The Muppet Show. He remained Fozzie's main performer until his departure from the cast in 2001. In 2002, Eric Jacobson became Fozzie's main performer and has continued to perform the character since then.
Kevin Clash and John Kennedy puppeteered Fozzie for much of the production of Muppet Treasure Island and Muppets from Space respectively (with the unavailable[clarification needed] Oz dubbing Fozzie's voice). Victor Yerrid performed Fozzie for a 2006 Disney Cruise Line stage show, Muppets Ahoy!. Voice actor Greg Berg provided Fozzie's voice for the Saturday morning cartoon Muppet Babies, as well as its short-lived spin-off, Little Muppet Monsters. In the reboot of Muppet Babies, Fozzie is voiced by Eric Bauza.
Frank Oz has described Fozzie as "desperately insecure" and cites the character's close friendship with Kermit the Frog to be essential to his core. Oz elaborates that, "With Kermit, he would want to find a way to be funny. That's not altruistic for Fozzie. He's not trying to make people feel better. He just wants to be a great comedian. But the main thing is that he would need to be with Kermit. He feels alone without Kermit." Being best friends, Fozzie and Kermit have frequently been paired together in many movies, books, and specials. In The Muppet Movie, Fozzie is the first Muppet that Kermit meets 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 sing the duet "Movin' Right Along" in the film. Several episodes show Fozzie as dedicated to Kermit, usually responding to his instructions with a chipper "Yes sir." On those rare occasions when Kermit must be away from the theater, he invariably leaves Fozzie in charge of the show, although he equally invariably regrets it (due to the bear's lack of skill as a showrunner). In The Great Muppet Caper, Fozzie and Kermit are portrayed as twin brothers.
Fozzie's mother, Emily Bear (performed by Jerry Nelson), appeared in A Muppet Family Christmas special. To Fozzie's surprise, she was friends with Statler and Waldorf, despite the heckling they inflict on him. Fozzie also has a cousin who appeared in the first season of The Muppet Show, also performed by Frank Oz. In The Muppet Movie, Fozzie makes reference to his uncle, whose Studebaker he traded in while his uncle was hibernating.
His cousin is an audience member. In one episode of The Muppet Show, he begged the other audience members not to insult his cousin Fozzie. He has a friend called Jasmine the tortoise.
In the first season of The Muppet Show, the show's opening featured Fozzie telling a joke during an instrumental portion of the theme song. Fozzie was often featured in a sketch where he did a comedy monologue, in which Statler and Waldorf would heckle him (he was their favorite victim). In the second season, Fozzie's comedy routines often had gimmicks such as ventriloquism or performing on roller skates. As the series progressed, he did fewer comedy routines, becoming more involved in the show as a whole. He also performed as a magician occasionally.
Occasionally, Fozzie uses Jewish humor on the show, a nod to Frank Oz's Jewish heritage and the Borscht Belt comics that were widely popular in the mid-20th century. For example, "The Telephone Pole Bit" included a reference to Frank Oz's Polish Jewish father, and in Fozzie's magic act, he pulls a rabbi out of his hat.
Though his main job was to be the show's comedian, he has had a number of other roles on The Muppet Show. He sang and danced in many musical numbers, and frequently acted in sketches (most famously his recurring sketch Bear On Patrol where he plays an unlucky police officer). He also often helps backstage and even attempts to plan out the show in one episode, and write the script in another.
In one episode, he and his mother Emily do a performance of Knees Up Mother Brown, in which he sings and Emily dances as Mother Brown in the chorus.
In Episode 115, Fozzie constantly annoys 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.
Another running gag is Fozzie's hat—as a bear, he is naturally covered with fur, all over. However, upon removing his hat, it is clear that his head shape is modeled on the pate of a bald headed man—thus, the juxtaposition of being both furred and bald simultaneously. This was referenced in the 2011 film The Muppets, where he saw an old picture of himself at the Muppet Theater and ridiculed the "'80s haircut" he sported back then.
Fozzie was also frequently teamed up with Rowlf the Dog. In Episode 101, Fozzie plays a western bandit to Rowlf's role as a western hero. Fozzie also appeared in two Veterinarian's Hospital sketches, in which Rowlf starred as Dr. Bob.
In Episode 218, Rowlf learns that Fozzie could play the piano, and they play the piano together in a performance 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've Got Rhythm". During the latter number, Rowlf attempts to help Fozzie with his singing but is finally reduced to changing the hapless bear's lyrics to "I Don't Got Rhythm". The young incarnations of Fozzie and Rowlf are also frequently paired together on Muppet Babies.