Man or Muppet

Last updated
"Man or Muppet"
Man or Muppet scene.jpg
Gary and Walter, singing alongside their respective counterparts.
Song by Jason Segel and Walter (Peter Linz)
from the album The Muppets
Published Fuzzy Muppet Songs [1]
ReleasedNovember 22, 2011
Label Walt Disney
Songwriter(s) Bret McKenzie
Music video
"Man or Muppet" on YouTube

"Man or Muppet" is a song from Disney's 2011 musical comedy film The Muppets , written by singer-songwriter Bret McKenzie. Performed by the film's main characters, Gary (Jason Segel) and Walter (Peter Linz), the song also features Bill Barretta and Jim Parsons portraying the contrasting identities of Gary and Walter, respectively. [2] The song was released by Walt Disney Records on November 22, 2011, as part of the film's original soundtrack.


"Man or Muppet" won the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 84th Academy Awards and the Sierra Award for Best Song. [3] It was also nominated for Best Song Written for Visual Media at the 55th Grammy Awards, [4] Best Original Song at the Satellite Awards [5] and Best Song at the 17th Critics Choice Awards, in which two other songs from the film, "Life's a Happy Song" and "Pictures in My Head", were also nominated, with the former winning. [6]


In the film, the song is performed by Gary (Jason Segel), Walter (Peter Linz), a Muppet form of Gary (Bill Barretta), and Walter's human form (Jim Parsons).

The song is a piece that reflects Gary and Walter questioning what their true identities are. Through the course of the film, Gary is oblivious to the desires of his longtime girlfriend, Mary (Amy Adams), and instead offers to sacrifice his time to assist the rest of the Muppets return to fame. This leads to a conflict between him and a distraught Mary, who returns to her home in Smalltown without him. Meanwhile, his younger brother, Walter, despite his respect and admiration for the Muppets, experiences an identity crisis as he comes to terms with the dilemma of having to choose between becoming part of the Muppets—which has been his lifelong dream—or continuing his ordinary life alongside Gary and Mary.

During this song, Gary and Walter see alternate versions of themselves—while wandering the streets, Gary sees himself as a Muppet in a shop window and trolley, and Walter sees himself as a human (Parsons) in a circle of mirrors inside the Muppet Theatre. At one point, Gary and Walter (each with their respective counterpart) come together in an abstract, recondite musical setting, dressed in white tuxedos and playing pianos facing each other. At the song's conclusion, both characters ultimately accept who they really are; Gary declares himself a "Man" (but "a Muppet of a man") and Walter a "Muppet" (but "a very manly Muppet"). Gary and Mary are later seen reconciling after Gary goes back to Smalltown and apologizes to her.


I think everyone has had that crisis at some point, trying to figure out whether they are a man or a Muppet ... I like the idea of people having that crisis, driving around, trying to figure it out.

—Bret McKenzie on the meaning of "Man or Muppet" [7]

The film's writers, Nicholas Stoller and Segel, informed McKenzie that he had to avoid alluding to the term "puppet", stating that the Muppet characters view themselves as actual people, and never as sentient puppet figures. [7]

McKenzie cited power ballads written by artists such as Eric Carmen and Harry Nilsson as inspiration for the song's tone. [7] He also stated that the main reason for the song's inclusion in the film was to have the characters resolve the problem of coming to accept their true selves. [7]

Michael Cera and Paul Rudd were considered for the role of Walter's alter-ego. [8] The part was eventually given to Jim Parsons, who described it as "the role of a lifetime". [9]


After receiving the Oscar nomination, McKenzie admitted that he never expected it to be nominated and described his experience in writing the lyrics, stating that he "really wanted it to be hilarious and beautiful" and that the song itself is "sincere but ridiculous". [10]

"Man or Muppet" was the third Muppet song to be nominated for an Academy Award, the others being "Rainbow Connection" from The Muppet Movie and "The First Time It Happens" from The Great Muppet Caper . "Man or Muppet" is the first Muppet song to win an Oscar. [11] It is also the twelfth song from a Disney film to win for Best Original Song. 1


84th Academy Awards Best Original Song Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Original Song Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association AwardsBest Original SongWon
55th Annual Grammy Awards Best Song Written for Visual Media Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Best Original SongNominated
Phoenix Film Critics SocietyBest Original SongNominated
Satellite Awards 2011 Best Original Song Nominated
Sierra Awards 2011Best SongWon

Chart performance

Chart (2012)Peak
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company) [12] 121

Music video

On December 20, 2011, Walt Disney Records produced a music video for the song on their Disney Music YouTube channel. The video is similar to that of what is seen in the film during the song's duration, however there are a few other scenes from the film spliced in throughout the video. The video has been aired on Disney Channel and Disney XD.

On February 24, 2012, Walt Disney Records re-published the music video in high-definition on The Muppets Studio' official YouTube channel.


^1 Past winners include; "When You Wish Upon a Star", from Pinocchio , "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah", from Song of the South , "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins , "Under the Sea" from The Little Mermaid , "Beauty and the Beast" from the eponymous film, "A Whole New World" from Aladdin , "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" from The Lion King , "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas , "You'll Be in My Heart" from Tarzan , "If I Didn't Have You" from Monsters, Inc. , and "We Belong Together" from Toy Story 3 .

See also

Related Research Articles

The Muppets are an ensemble cast of puppet characters known for their absurdist, burlesque, and self-referential style of variety-sketch comedy. Created by Jim and Jane Henson in 1955, they are the namesakes of the Disney-owned media franchise that encompasses television, music, film, and other media associated with the characters.

<i>The Muppets Wizard of Oz</i> 2005 television film directed by Kirk Thatcher

The Muppets' Wizard of Oz is a 2005 fantasy television film directed by Kirk Thatcher and starring Ashanti and The Muppets with supporting roles done by Jeffrey Tambor, Quentin Tarantino, David Alan Grier, and Queen Latifah. The film was produced by Bill Barretta and written by Debra Frank, Steve L. Hayes, Tom Martin, and Adam F. Goldberg based on a story by Frank and Hayes.

Jason Segel American actor

Jason Jordan Segel is an American actor, comedian, screenwriter, singer, and producer. He is best known for his role as Marshall Eriksen in the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, as well as for his work with producer Judd Apatow on the television series Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, and for the critically and commercially successful comedies he has starred in, written, and produced.

Flight of the Conchords New Zealand-based musical comedy duo

Flight of the Conchords are a New Zealand Grammy award-winning comedy duo composed of musicians Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. The duo's comedy and music became the basis of a BBC radio series and then an American television series that aired for two seasons on HBO. They previously referred to themselves as "New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo", but as of 2014 refer to themselves as "the almost award-winning fourth-most-popular folk duo in New Zealand".

Bret McKenzie New Zealand actor and musician

Bret Peter Tarrant McKenzie is an Academy award winning New Zealand comedian, actor, musician and producer. He is one half of musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords along with Jemaine Clement. The duo's comedy and music became the basis of a BBC radio series and then an oft-lauded American television series, which aired for two seasons on HBO. McKenzie served as music supervisor for two Muppet films, The Muppets (2011) and Muppets Most Wanted (2014), the former of which won him an Academy Award for Best Original Song for the song "Man or Muppet". His latest work has seen him write the lyrics to the 2016 Sainsbury's Christmas advert featuring James Corden on vocals.

The Critics' Choice Movie Award for Best Song is one of the awards given to people working in the motion picture industry by the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

Bill Barretta American actor

William Paul Barretta is an American actor, puppeteer, producer and director, who is best known for providing the puppetry and voice of characters like Pepe the King Prawn, Johnny Fiama, Big Mean Carl, and Bobo the Bear. He also inherited the roles of Rowlf the Dog, Swedish Chef, Mahna Mahna, and Dr. Teeth after the death of Muppet creator Jim Henson.

Jemaine Clement New Zealand - American actor and musician

Jemaine Atea Mahana Clement is a New Zealand actor, voice actor, musician, comedian, singer, director and writer. With Bret McKenzie, as the Grammy Award-winning comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, he has released several albums and created comedy series for both the BBC and HBO. For the comedy series, he received six Primetime Emmy nominations.

James Bobin British film and television director

James Bobin is a British film director, writer, and producer. He worked as a director and writer on Da Ali G Show and helped create the characters of Ali G, Borat, and Brüno. With Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, he co-created Flight of the Conchords. He directed the feature films The Muppets (2011), Muppets Most Wanted (2014), Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), and Dora and the Lost City of Gold (2019).

"Happy Working Song" is a song written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Stephen Schwartz for Walt Disney Pictures' musical film Enchanted (2007). Recorded by American actress Amy Adams in her starring role as Giselle, the uptempo pop song both parodies and pays homage to a variety of songs from several Disney animated feature films, particularly "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937). Produced by Menken, Schwartz and Danny Troob, the song appears on the film's soundtrack Enchanted: Original Soundtrack.

<i>The Muppets</i> (film) 2011 film by James Bobin

The Muppets is a 2011 American musical comedy film and the seventh theatrical film featuring the Muppets. The film was directed by James Bobin in his directorial debut, written by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller, produced by David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman and starred Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, and Rashida Jones, as well as Muppet performers Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel, and Peter Linz. Bret McKenzie served as music supervisor, writing four of the film's five original songs, while Christophe Beck composed the film's score. In The Muppets, devoted Muppet fan Walter, his human brother Gary and Gary's girlfriend Mary help Kermit the Frog reunite the disbanded Muppets, as they must raise $10 million to save the Muppet Theater from Tex Richman, a businessman who plans to demolish the studio to drill for oil.

<i>Muppets: The Green Album</i> 2011 compilation album by Various artists

Muppets: The Green Album is a cover album of twelve Muppet songs by various contemporary music artists. The album was released by Walt Disney Records on August 23, 2011 on a digipak CD and as a digital download. A music video was also produced for the album's sole single; "Muppet Show Theme Song", featuring OK Go attempting to produce their own music video until they are interrupted by the Muppets' antics.

Walter (Muppet) Muppet character

Walter is a Muppet character that first appeared in the 2011 film The Muppets. Performed by Peter Linz, he is one of the central protagonists introduced in the film, and one of the film's main characters, along with Kermit the Frog and the rest of the Muppets. Walter also appears in the 2014 sequel film, Muppets Most Wanted; though still a major character, he plays a smaller role than he does in the previous film.

<i>The Muppets</i> (soundtrack) album

The Muppets: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack is a soundtrack album released by Walt Disney Records on November 22, 2011 for the musical comedy film The Muppets. The soundtrack features five original songs, four re-recordings and remasterings of popular Muppet songs, two cover versions of existing songs, two standalone songs, and fifteen dialogue tracks. It also features the song "Man or Muppet", which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. The soundtrack was also nominated for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media at the 55th Grammy Awards.

"Belle" is a song written by composer Alan Menken and lyricist Howard Ashman for Walt Disney Pictures' 30th animated feature film Beauty and the Beast (1991). Originally recorded by American actress and singer Paige O'Hara and American actor Richard White, "Belle", a mid-tempo French and classical music-inspired song, incorporates both Broadway and musical theatre elements. The film's first song and opening number, "Belle" appears during Beauty and the Beast as a large scale operetta-style production number that introduces the film's heroine Belle, considered a book-loving nonconformist by the townspeople of the village, who has grown weary of the provincial life in which she is supposed to live, and Gaston, the film's narcissistic villain who wishes to desire her hand in marriage despite Belle's repeated rejections.

The 12th World Soundtrack Awards were given on 20 October 2012 at the Kuipke Events Centre in Ghent, Belgium.

<i>Muppets Most Wanted</i> 2014 film by James Bobin

Muppets Most Wanted is a 2014 American musical crime comedy film and the eighth theatrical film featuring the Muppets. Directed by James Bobin and written by Bobin and Nicholas Stoller, the film is a sequel to The Muppets (2011) and stars Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey, as well as Muppet performers Steve Whitmire, Eric Jacobson, Dave Goelz, Bill Barretta, David Rudman, Matt Vogel and Peter Linz. In the film, the Muppets become involved in an international crime caper while on a world tour in Europe.

<i>The Muppet Movie</i> (soundtrack) 1979 soundtrack album by The Muppets

The Muppet Movie: Original Soundtrack Recording is the soundtrack album from the 1979 film, The Muppet Movie, featuring the songs and select score written by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher. Originally released on LP by Atlantic Records, the album reached No. 32 on the Billboard 200, and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America. The soundtrack won the Grammy Award for Best Children's Album in 1980 and was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media, the Golden Globe for Best Original Song, and two Academy Awards; Best Adaptation Score for the overall album and Best Original Song for "Rainbow Connection", which reached No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.

<i>Muppets Most Wanted</i> (soundtrack) 2014 soundtrack album

Muppets Most Wanted: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack is a soundtrack album released by Walt Disney Records on March 18, 2014 for the musical comedy film Muppets Most Wanted. The soundtrack features six original songs, two re-recordings of popular Muppet songs, three cover versions of existing songs, an orchestral suite by Christophe Beck, five demos by Bret McKenzie, and eight dialogue tracks.


  1. "2013 Grammy Awards: Full List of Nominees". Billboard. December 21, 2012. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
  2. ""Man or Muppet" Nominated for an Academy Award!". The Muppet Mindset. January 24, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
  3. "Oscars 2012: The Muppets wins best song". The Guardian. Feb 26, 2012. Retrieved Apr 25, 2014.
  4. Morris, Christopher (5 December 2012). "Frank Ocean, Fun lead Grammy nominations". Variety . Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  5. Knegt, Peter (2011-12-19). "'Descendants,' 'Drive' Lead Satellite Award Winners". indieWire . Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  6. Ford, Rebecca (2012-01-12). "Critics' Choice Movie Awards: 'The Artist' Wins Best Picture". The Hollywood Reporter . Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  7. 1 2 3 4 Interview: "Bret McKenzie: A Very Manly Muppet [Extended Cut]". NPR . 2012-02-20. Retrieved 2012-02-25.
  8. Ditzian, Eric (2010-12-15). "'Muppets' Star Jason Segel 'Hoping' For Lady Gaga Cameo". MTV . Retrieved 2012-01-25.
  9. Arbeiter, Michael. "Jim Parsons Can Finally Talk About His Top Secret 'Muppets' Role: Late Last Night". Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  10. Warner, Kara (2012-01-24). "'Muppets' Music Man Calls Oscar Nod 'A Big Surprise'". MTV . Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  11. Baillie, Russell (2012-01-25). "Will Bret McKenzie's Muppet song win an Oscar?". The New Zealand Herald . Retrieved 2012-01-24.
  12. "Chart Log UK: Chart entries update". The Official Charts Company. 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2012-02-27.