And in the third episode of the third season, Roy Clark got his shot. Between Hee Haw and his musical comedy background, he was a perfect fit for the vaudevillian style troupe of frogs, dogs, bears and chickens and such. Here's a breakdown of the episode:
During this season, the show always opened with the same type of gag: Scooter, the show's gopher (not literally, which normally I wouldn't feel the need to point out), would knock on the guest's dressing room door and let them know that the curtain goes up in 15 seconds. Then the guest says or does something funny...and roll the intro!
This time, as Roy is getting dressed one of his duded up cowboy outfits, he asks Scooter where his pair of chaps are? In walks a pair of British Muppets saying 'allo, 'allo! Roy shouts out the Sooner state, "It's a far cry from Oklahoma." And all of a sudden it's time to play the music...it's time to light the lights...
The episode's story involves a subplot with Fozzie misunderstanding the term "going country" and thus sending the crew into the woods. With that subtle bit of Muppet mayhem in place, the first musical number begins:
Roy gets the chance to show off his multiple musical abilities by performing "Rocky Top" with Lubbock Lou and his Jughuggers. With the help of some TV magic, he plays banjo, fiddle, guitar, mandolin and even whips out a trumpet briefly on the bluegrass classic.
Jim Henson was an early pioneer of experimenting with video effects and technology on his original kids show "Sam and Friends" and brought that that innovating spirit with him to the Muppet Show.
By today's standards, having multiple picture-in-pictures might seem a little dated but at this time, it was cutting edge. It was also a rare chance for such a technically accomplished musician like Roy to really show off his abilities.
After such an exhausting performance Roy got to take a break but the show rolled on with a Swedish Chef segment. Meanwhile the crew-less subplot continued as Fozzie figured out a way to set the theater on fire. We follow that up with a "Pigs in Space" segment and then it was time to bring back the guest star:
Roy sings "Yesterday When I Was Young." It was one of his signature hits songs and he became so synonymous with it that fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle asked him to sing it at Mantle's funeral.
The performance also includes a semi-regular Muppet bit that involves starting off with a real dog and then switching to a Muppet dog in the edit. Why do they do this? Beats me.
After a quick bit involving fire fighters showing up to audition instead of putting out the fire, it was time for the regular "Talk Spot" segment where Kermit chats with the guest. The gag here involves Roy noticing that much of the cast would probably end up on a breakfast plate back on the farm. As Muppet chickens, ducks, pigs and cows express their distaste for the idea, we move on to the "At the Dance" bit.
After some more fire fighting and a Gonzo the Great bit, the final musical number was "Sally Was a Good Old Girl." I don't know too much about the song but it looks like it has been performed by a variety of artists, most notably Waylon Jennings. Apparently all was forgiven with the Muppet farm animals since they joined him for the song.
So all that's left to do is crack a couple of jokes, say some "thank yous," do a quick smoking fiddle bit and it's time to close the curtain. Roy Clark has played a lot of prestigious (and maybe some not so prestigious) venues over his career but I'd like to think that the Muppet Show was one of his more unforgettable performances and gave him a chance to hold his own against some of the most iconic characters in history. My only regret about this episode is that we didn't get Dueling Banjos with Roy and Kermit.