Sesame Street is special to me. Way back in the day, before the capability to call up virtually every Muppet performance ever done with the click of a mouse, Sesame Street was the most reliable–and sometimes only–source of Muppet content available to me. Even after I learned to read and count, I continued watching it when I could–i.e., whenever I wasn’t in school–for several years.
In fact, there was a brief span of time when I had started school but my younger brother hadn’t yet–he is two and a half years younger than me–and he would watch Sesame Street while I was at school and then report to me what had happened when I got home. I don’t think I asked him to do that either; he just knew I would be interested. I remember him singing me a song that Don Music had apparently sung that day, of which the title and only lyric seemed to be “You’ll be so flabbergasted!”
(Since the advent of YouTube, I’ve been looking for that clip ever since, to no avail. I don’t suppose anyone out there has access to it, do you? If someone could get it to me, I’d be eternally grateful–just so I know that I didn’t dream it.) Thank you to reader/commenter Mike, who was able to find the clip on YouTube and was gracious enough to share it. Check it out below:
It’s always interesting to me to find out what other people’s favorite Muppet/Sesame Street characters are, and why. I think it oftentimes reveals a lot about the person because we tend to project our own characteristics and traits onto the Muppets with which we identify. For example, Street Gang author Michael Davis sees Grover as a middle child because Davis, himself, is a middle child and identified Grover’s…persistence as an expression of the middle child’s desperation for parental attention. That raises the question of who/where Grover’s other siblings are, but it doesn’t really matter; Davis needs Grover to be a middle child, and so Grover is a middle child for him. The Muppets are kind of like Batman in that respect; they can be whatever we need them to be.
As for me, my favorite Sesame Street characters are Bert and Ernie, because they remind me so much of myself and my older sister.
For nine years, my sister was sort of in the catbird seat in our family; being the youngest child and the only girl, she had the privilege of having a bedroom all to herself, whereas the two boys had to share.
Then I came along and ruined all that.
Not that she ever put it to me that way, but I think that may have been in her mind on occasion. Now she was no longer the only girl and had to share her bedroom. And even though she was (usually) accommodating and solicitous of me, I think she resented her loss of privacy–understandably so, I should say. Not only that, but a couple years later when my younger brother was born, my sister became the middle child. It was sort of a double-whammy.
Anyway, when I was five and my sister was fourteen, the dynamic between us could be very similar to the character dynamic between Bert and Ernie. I never meant to be obnoxious, but I hero-worshipped my three older siblings so much that I wanted to spend all my time around them, doing what they did, which wasn’t always convenient for them. To be fair, for the most part the three of them were very indulgent with me and didn’t mind me tagging along, but my sister’s patience with me would usually wear out right around bedtime. Much like in Bert and Ernie sketches, I’d be all tucked into my bed, and some sort of profoundly philosophical, preschooler sort of thought would come into my head, and I’d want to talk to her about it, and–just like Bert–she would say, “Mary, go to sleeeeep!”
I’ve felt for years now that Bert and Ernie’s comedy stylings are underappreciated, so in 2013 I embarked on an endeavor to celebrate their comedic chops by posting at least one Bert and Ernie sketch in my old blog every weekday for one year. I made a very conscientious decision to use clips from the official Sesame Street website or YouTube channel whenever possible, out of respect for their copyrights.
Well, no good deed goes unpunished, as it turns out, because sometime in the intervening four years, the official website has been revamped and all of the links I made to their website are now dead. So now I’m on a mission to find those clips on YouTube–whether they’re on the official Sesame Street channel or wherever they may be–and post them again.
In today’s selections, the comedy stems directly from the fact that Bert and Ernie are puppets:
ASIDE: While on the Sesame Street YouTube channel, I took a look at the Season 47 sizzle reel. About 30 seconds in, Grover appears to cause a snowstorm by means of a magical sneeze and says, “Snow in the fall? How is this possible?” It made me laugh out loud; clearly Grover has never been to South Dakota, where we routinely incorporate snow boots into our Halloween costumes.