Roger Langridge is the perfect artist for “The Muppet Show.” He’s proven his skill and he’s made “The Muppet Show” one of Boom’s best-looking books over the past year. The premise of this ongoing series — or at least the opening arc (if there are such things as arcs in a series like this) — is suitably clever: it’s the Muppet road show, and by taking them outside of their humble little theater, they are able to encounter new characters, strange situations, and hint at adventure. But it’s still more about the show than the road, and so in this issue we get the behind-the-scenes struggle as Kermit and company mount a comedy performance in the midst of their toughest audience yet.
It’s Little Statwald, a town filled with Statlers and Waldorfs, the hecklers from the box seats. It’s an entire town populated by these two families, even the unfortunate lady-folk have the Statler and Waldorf look. And, yup, they are a tough crowd.
But luckily the Muppets have brought in a new writer, Clint Wacky, to fill in for the missing Fozzie (who has gone off on his own adventure into traveling comedy, and his solo stories appear at the end of each issue). The writer is terrible, of course, because it wouldn’t be “The Muppet Show” if everything ran smoothly. But he knows his audience, and they’re eating it up, even if the Muppet Show gang doesn’t want their show to be remembered for low humor and insult comedy.
The not-funny-funny-guy concept — the awkwardness that can occur — that has some potential. “The Office,” both the British and American versions, have fed off that approach. But in “The Muppet Show” #2, the unfunny comedy becomes tedious. And even the equally-unfunny “Pigs in Space” one-page interlude (which doesn’t seem to fit into the concept of the traveling road show, as it’s injected just as if it were a regular Muppet Show episode) provides some respite. But that doesn’t make it entertaining. Just diverting.
The Fozzie story at the end is cute, in a slapsticky way, but it’s not enough.
Langridge is a great artist (and Eric Cobain’s coloring complements him perfectly), and he knows how to write these characters with more substance than you might expect from a series about puppets. But as a comic that’s presumably intended to be funny, it just doesn’t have much humor. It’s about humor, in the way that “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” was about humor. But remember the “comedy” bits on that show? That’s the kind of thing we get here. Unfortunately.