I love Sesame Street. Who doesn’t? I mean, Kermit, and Miss Piggy, Ernie and Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Waldorf and Statler (the two old guys on the balcony), and so on. Jim Henson was a total genius. The Muppets are his most well known creation, but he also created Fraggle Rock, sketches for SNL and helped in the creation of Yoda. The Muppets were first introduced in a commercial for Wilkins Coffee featuring Muppets and a canon. That has to be a winning combination, right? There’s a whole series of Wilkins Coffee commercials that hint at many Sesame Street characters to come, including Rowlf and Kermit.
Jim Henson was the voice of Kermit and other characters and created Sesame Street. He influenced children’s television, creating programming that was fun while being educational. Even Elmo is educational. Yes, some of the toys like Tickle-Me Elmo are ridiculously annoying when they giggle over and over when you walk to the toy section of a store. But those little videos for kids are made to convey educational information on a children’s level, using various tools that children can really get. For example, teaching ABC via Cookie Monster:
Jim Henson’s passing was a loss to all children, parents, educators and fans. Sesame Street still continues, and it still gets guests that talk about various topics – remember that uproar over the lowcut outfit that Katy Perry wore when she sang Hot N Cold with Elmo on Sesame Street? Google even came up with a special Google Doodle tribute for the anniversary of his birthday. (On a side note, check out this great post with other awesome interactive Google Doodles).
There are two great Sesame Street documentaries that I can really recommend. The first one is called “The World According to Sesame Street.” It shows the work of the Sesame Street people as they try to establish a Sesame Street program in South Africa, Bangladesh and Kosovo. Sesame Street programs work through local co-productions, where the name Sesame Street is adapted to the local language, some characters are transformed to fit local issues, and the topics developed are relevant to that country. The documentary shows the obstacles and the successes in creating local Sesame Street programs. I remember the German Sesame Street program was called Sesamstraße, and we had a few Germany specific characters, including Samson, a huge bear, Finchen a sleepy little snail, Pferd, a horse (which is a redundant name since the translation of Pferd is horse), and Tiffy.
The other documentary is a recent one, and you’ve probably heard of. It is called “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey” and is the story of Kevin Clash, the puppeteer who brings Elmo to life. It was a 2011 release and people who have seen it really love it – some even thought it should have been nominated for an Oscar. And there are of course the various Sesame Street movies, including the latest one simply called “The Muppets.”
Like everybody, I have a soft spot for certain muppet songs. I love Ernie’s Rubberducky Song, both the German and the English version, and Kermit’s “It’s Not Easy Being Green.” The classical singer in me especially loves “Danny Boy” or “Ode to Joy” (Beaker!!!!), although the Muppet Bohemian Rhapsody version is awesome (it includes the Swedish Chef!) There’s a whole playlist of classic Sesame clips on the Sesame YouTube channel. But this one is the favorite around here. We all might just randomly launch into ‘Mah-Na-Mah-Na‘ at random times, with someone then answering ‘Doo Doo Do Do Do.’ Ah, the little things in life that you get joy from.
Btw, there are great ideas out there if you want to throw a Sesame Street party. For example, Sesame Street cake pops! Or you could transform everyday items, like a blue trashcan into cookie monster, or other muppets.