Sesame Street‘s 45th season is a special one for me. It’s the season when I officially became a part of the Sesame Street universe.
I’m sure you know (as I’m sure it’s the same for you), I’ve been a Sesame Street fanatic since I was a tiny human. Big Bird was one of my first real friends. I felt like I knew Bert and Ernie personally. I thought I lived down the street from 123. But it wasn’t too long before I learned how television was made, how puppets work, and the difference between real life and the fictional playground of Sesame.
Cut ahead a few decades, and I had the rare opportunity to appear in an episode of Sesame Street as an extra. (I wrote all about it here on ToughPigs, and I hope you re-read the article!) A brief recap: I dressed as a superhero attending the Numeric Con convention and spent a couple days watching the Muppet performers hard at work on the Sesame Street set. And yes, it was just as incredible as you’d expect.
Now, I’m not dumb – I know that Sesame Street isn’t real (sorry, harsh truths there). During my time on the set, I was painfully aware that there’s no fourth wall, there are people under those puppets, and that we’re creating content for preschoolers to watch on their television sets. As much as I wanted to be on the real Street, this was as close as I’d ever get.
But now that a little more time has passed and I look back at the Numeric Con episode, I find it hard to remember the lights and the cameras. What I remember most is standing on the stoop of 123 Sesame Street and interacting with the Muppets. When I watch the episode itself, all I see is the world of the show without anything behind the curtain (or below the frame). And there I am, on the real Sesame Street.
Therefore, the fantasies I had as a child have come true. I’m a real character on Sesame Street. Somewhere – in some other universe or headcanon or fan fiction – it’s possible for someone to stand in Hooper’s Store and walk down the street and into my apartment. It’s possible for someone who looks and acts just like me to bump into a Muppet monster at the local library and sing a song about cooperation. It’s possible that the geeky fanboy who attended Numeric Con might someday return to Sesame Street.
So, what’s it like living in the world of Sesame Street? I definitely find myself getting more excited about numbers (I’m a “6” guy, myself). I can pick up any instrument and immediately know how to play it. And I don’t pay for anything at Hooper’s Store.
All in all, I’m extremely proud to have played the tiniest part in Sesame Street history, and I look forward to the next Numeric Con!
Notable Character Debut: Penelope Penguin, who may not be notable for most of us, but she’s a favorite of Leslie Carrara-Rudolph’s, and we’re just waiting for her inevitable return to the show and her quick rise to stardom.
Notable Character Departure: Oh man, so many. This season contains the last new material filmed for *deep breath* Sonia Manzano (Maria), Bob McGrath (Bob), Emilio Delgado (Luis), Loretta Long (Susan), Alison Bartlett (Gina), Nitya Vidyasagar (Leela), and Ismael Cruz Córdova (Mando). It’s also the final season for Muppet performer Fran Brill and the last puppetry from Caroll Spinney (who will still provide the voice of Big Bird and Oscar for a bit longer). Thankfully, almost all of these folks will appear here and there in other Sesame Street projects including the 50th anniversary special.
MVM (Most Valuable Muppet): Cookie Monster, who stars in a slew of new parodies in the Cookie’s Crumby Pictures segment, every one of which went viral. It’s like printing money.
MVE (Most Valuable Episode): Honestly, the Numeric Con episode was a triumph. So many extras, all those great pop culture references, lots of new characters, and bonus material in the DVD. It would still be one of my most favorite Sesame things ever, even if I wasn’t in it.
Musical Highlight: The songs introducing the letter and number of the day are the catchiest earworms in recent Sesame Street history, and I’m so sorry that they’re now stuck in your head.
Best Celebrity Moment: Janelle Monet absolutely kills it in “The Power of Yet”.
One More Thing: This was the final year for Sesame Street‘s letter and number sponsors. So, I guess they’re fully funded now?
Okay, One More Thing: It’s not a part of the show itself, but this year also debuted “Big Birdman”, a spoof of the film Birdman starring Caroll Spinney in the Michael Keaton role. I co-wrote the Sesame version, and I’m technically in the video as well (when the picture frame falls, I’m hidden behind the couch and dropping it on cue). So what I’m saying is, this was a big year for me.
Click here to make a very brief cameo on the ToughPigs forum!
by Joe Hennes – Joe@ToughPigs.com