Inspirational, Celebrational, Muppet-ational...
It's hard to know, when you're sat in a press conference with the Muppets, who has the stranger job - me, for directing questions to a hand in what is effectively a carefully-stitched sock; or the skilled Jim Henson Company puppeteer, whose job it is to hide under a table with his hand in that pseudo-sock.
But that was the surreal experience assembled members of the press found themselves in, at a press conference promoting Muppets Most Wanted, the sequel ("never quite as good", as the Muppets themselves sing in the opening number) to 2011's series reboot.
In attendance were Muppet icons Kermit The Frog and Miss Piggy, new Muppet bad guy Constantine, plus humans Ricky Gervais, and director James Bobin.
The absurdity of a room full of adults addressing a piece of felt was never far away, and yet nobody at any point thought to ask, for example, “why have the puppets been given fake microphones?”
We were all enthralled by the Muppets’ intangible magic; their disarming charm, their fourth-wall-breaking wit (Constantine at one point acknowledged that he spends most of the day in a box); and their all-round adorability.
There's something about the Muppets that just burns any cynicism away. By the end of the junket, there wasn't a journalist in the house without a big, beaming smile on their face.
On a dream-come-true job:
Ricky Gervais: It’s not a job, is it? This is fun. I am a big kid and I can’t believe my luck. I’ve been a fan of the Muppets for 30 years. I used to watch them on Sundays with my family. So yeah, this was a good call to get.
On being upstaged by the Muppets:
Ricky Gervais: I knew it was going to happen. I knew from day one. The first thing that worried me in the script was the song and dance number... But then I saw there’s going to be a frog dancing on screen. I love being upstaged by these guys. I ruined a lot of takes...once, I just went: “Ha! I’m in the Muppets!”
On the beauty of Miss Piggy as a distraction on set:
Ricky Gervais: (to Constantine) You had to pretend to love her in the movie, didn’t you?
Constantine: It was my best acting.
On true spirit of the Muppets:
Ricky Gervais: Trying your hardest; optimism; the acceptance of difference. And it’s fun deconstructing that for an adult audience.
James Bobin (director): Trying your best is very important. Not just for me or the Muppets, but also our human stars...I don’t want you to sing and dance perfectly, it’s about trying your best. And that’s lucky for Ricky!
Miss Piggy: The real spirit of the Muppets is flawless beauty.
On what genre The Muppets do next:
Ricky Gervais: The best genre is obviously ‘sequel’. Everyone knows that. As we know, films get better and better with every sequel. Rocky 6... Godfather 3...
Kermit the Frog: I’m personally hoping for Muppets Well Rested. That would be really good.