As with any other Muppet character, Kermit the Frog is known for having a goofy, over-the-top voice. But, aside from this, he’s renowned for his very characteristic “yay!” and his overall likable personality.
Doing a Kermit the Frog impression is not very hard. He’s one of the easiest Muppets to voice, not being as taxing on the vocal cords as many of the other characters in the franchise.
Kermit’s voice is very neutral in terms of pitch range, meaning that he should be doable for most voice actors. Nonetheless, his pitch has the proclivity to rise considerably when he gets too worked up or enthusiastic (more on this later), presenting some minor challenges. Kermit’s voice, in general, is very “throaty” and seems to resonate towards the throat and the back of the mouth.
Also, most Muppet characters are prone to depress or stabilize their larynx, but Kermit strays from this trend.
When doing Kermit’s voice, you’ll have to play with your larynx, dropping it in certain places to generate that trademark Kermit “swallowing” voice – especially at the end of specific phrases – while raising it in the middle of the delivery to reach a higher frequency. Alternatively, you may lower the soft palate to allow the airflow to travel through the nose, endowing the sound with some brightness.
But perhaps the most effective method to achieve Kermit’s sound is through the “tongue clenching” technique. Tongue clenching, along with the lowered soft palate, will enable you to achieve the desired brightness. However, you’d need to fine-tune the clench so that it’s not too pronounced or too soft.
Kermit the Frog’s accent is hard to pin down due to the fact that he has his own mannerisms. Jim Henson (the original puppeteer and voice actor) was born in Mississippi and raised in Maryland, so you may find a blend of both accents thrown in, though not in a consistent fashion.
In a nutshell, Kermit’s accent is a bit of a milquetoast. In a way, it’s its own brand of the American accent.
The “The” Sound and Over-Articulation
Kermit’s pronunciation stands out by the way he uses the article “the”. Most English speakers are wont to pronounce “the” in two distinct ways:
- One of them is “thee”, normally followed by a vowel sound or when trying to emphasize a word, term, or idea.
- The other one is “thuh” (with a slight schwa) when followed by a consonant.
Kermit the Frog, however, doesn’t seem to abide by these “rules”, using the “thee” sound regardless of the context of the sentence. To illustrate, he would say:
- “Kermit ‘thee’ frog”
- “Pass me ‘thee’ cup”
- “I want to go to ‘thee’ movies”
Another one of Kermit’s distinguishing speech habits is his over-articulation of certain vowels such as “e”, “o”, and “ooh”. In addition, he’d stress the schwas or “uh’s” a bit more than usual, pulling back the tongue as much as possible.
Kermit has a very peculiar manner of speaking that’s bent on stuttering or using soft filler words or expressions, especially at the beginning and end of a line of dialogue or monologue. He’s also known for repeating a phrase or idea one or two more times in a softer fashion after a short pause. For example:
- “Now, what I’m gonna do – what I’m going to do `[whisper] – is I’m going to call old cookie monster to come up here… see?”
- “So you’ll notice that we have a feather… see this feather? [softly]”
- “Uhm… eh, no, I-I-I told you Bernie… uh… we really don’t wanna play Vegas… I dunno, no [softly]…”
- “And, today, the shape that we’re going to draw is a square… a square [softer].”
Kermit tends to speed up his speech when he gets excited, which could end up with him uttering borderline gibberish. As he does this, his pitch gets higher and higher, oftentimes ending with a long and resounding “yay!” while quickly flapping his “ankles” and tilting his head back. He can speak very fast but, when he wants to sound soulful, he slows down to sound more relatable.
Lastly, Kermit is inclined to bend the pitch down within the same syllable, especially when a word ends with a “u”, “ow” or “ooh”. The larynx tends to drop down along with the pitch.