After years of workplace abuse and torture, the lab assistant from Muppet Labs, Beaker, is finally getting some recognition. Who would have thought that a 22-year-old character who makes unintelligible noises would win an award for best music video?
Beaker first appeared in September 1977, during the second season of The Muppet Show. Speaking in high-pitched squeeks, the minor character often ended up being the victim of crazy experiments conducted by Doctor Bunsen Honeydew (Dave Goez). Shy and googly-eyed, Beaker was brought to life via the talents of larger-than-life puppeteer Richard Hunt, who also gave us Scooter, Janice, Statler, and Sweetums. Hunt tragically died in 1992 at the age of 40 from AIDS, less than two years after the loss of Jim Henson.
Since the loss of Hunt, the red-haired Muppet has been performed by Steve Whitmire. Whitmire performs characters like Rizzo the Rat and, since Henson’s passing, Kermit the Frog and Sesame Street’s Ernie.
When Beaker was first created, it’s unlikely that anyone could have predicted that he would become one of the Muppet gang’s most popular characters. In 2004, Beaker and Bunsen were voted as the UK’s most popular cinematic scientists, beating closest competitor Mr. Spock by a margin of two to one.
Now Beaker has won an award of his own, the coveted Webby Award. The winning video, called Ode to Joy, was created in July of 2008 as a creative collaboration of Disney’s The Muppets Studio and Soapbox Films. To date, it’s been seen over five million times on YouTube.
The award was chosen via votes by the online community and winners were announced on Tuesday. A ceremony will be held in New York City and hosted by comedian Seth Meyers in June.
The short utilizes multiple screens that end up interacting, an oft-used device of Henson and his crew. Though Beaker won an award for the video, the poor guy still takes his share of abuse.
Image courtesy Disney.