YouTube is the best friend a Sesame Street fan ever had, isn’t it? Not only does it regularly provide us with good doses of SIRE when we see old stuff we haven’t seen since we were kids, it also allows us to see scenes and characters that have fallen into obscurity, stuff that we’ve only read about but never hoped to view with our own eyes. Here, then, are Seven Sesame Muppets I Never Though I’d See (Again) Before There Was YouTube.
Dr. Nobel Price
I actually remembered Nobel Price from my own childhood Sesame-watching era, but I didn’t realize he had two different performers over the course of his time on the show. Brian Meehl originated the character, and Kevin Clash picked him up when Meehl departed. Dr. Price is a scientist whose inventions aren’t nearly as revolutionary as he thinks they are. To further prove that we’re living in a golden age, Nobel can actually be seen on DVD now, on the 40th anniversary release. If you don’t have the 40th set, maybe you’ll be persuaded to get it when you see (Kevin Clash’s) Nobel in action here:
Leo the Party Monster
I don’t think I had heard of Leo the Party Monster until I read about him on Muppet Wiki just a few years ago, but now he’s one of my favorite Richard Hunt characters ever. Just as Cookie Monster loves cookies, Leo loves to par-tay, and he wants everyone to join him. Leo is spotlighted in not one but two clips currently on YouTube:
Ruby was a little girl monster, played by the talented Camille Bonora, who was pretty prolific on Sesame Street in the 80s. There’s not much to Ruby, and she probably doesn’t have any fans, but it’s fun that we can see her on YouTube any time we want since she disappeared from the show in the early 90s.
Forgetful Jones 1.0
I was pretty surprised when I discovered that Richard Hunt was not the original performer of Sesame’s absent-minded cowboy, because he really made the character his own and gave us one of the funniest Muppets ever. But let us always remember that Michael Earl Davis was Forgetful first, during a Sesame stint in which he also briefly played Mr. Snuffleupagus (See below). Davis’s Forgetful can be seen in this clip, in which he takes a camping trip with Clementine. Say, are they sleeping in a gender-integrated campsite? How very progressive of them!
I love Meryl Sheep. Performed by the aforementioned Camille Bonora with a hilarious Meryl-Streep-in-Sophie’s-Choice accent, this sheep was a regular in street scenes in the late 80s. This coincides with the period when I briefly decided I was too old for Sesame Street, because it was a baby show — but my sister was watching, and when I came across stuff like Meryl Sheep, I couldn’t help but confess that the show still tickled my fancy. Here’s Meryl with Susan Sarandon:
Captain Vegetable, Richard Hunt edition
Most Sesame fans know Captain Vegetable — he’s our favorite New Jersey-based superhero, and in his original, Jim Henson-performed appearance, he convinced us once and for all that carrots and celery are better than candy. But you might not be as familiar with his later appearances in a few street scenes, where he was played by Richard Hunt. Here you can see him counting apples in Susan and Gordon’s apartment, and trying to figure out what rabbits like to eat. Wait a minute… Isn’t Captain Vegetable a rabbit?
This one blew my mind. In Kevin Clash’s autobiography My Life As a Furry Red Monster, he writes about a short-lived character he played, whom he calls “Juggles the Juggler.”¬ù He describes the difficulty of performing a puppet who could actually juggle, which required awkward positioning and coordinating his own puppetry with the juggler who played the character’s hands.
I was fascinated to read that this Muppet has existed, but I could only imagine what he looked like or how well the effect worked. I lamented the fact that such an obscure character would probably never be seen again — and then somebody uploaded him to YouTube. His name is actually Dexter, and he’s really cool-looking. His juggling technique is practically flawless, but I can see why he didn’t stick around. Once he had counted a few juggling balls, what other purpose could he serve on the show? Still, it’s pretty cool to see him in action.
I want to point out that having so much Sesame stuff on YouTube is great, but it shouldn’t prevent us from buying lots and lots of Sesame Street DVDs. There are some really fun releases out there, including classic and recent stuff, and we should all give Sesame Workshop all our money.
But when it comes to the stuff that’s not on disc, it’s really exciting to see all these characters pop up on my computer screen, and I’d like to give a shout-out to all the uploaders, like sawing14s, johnnytbirdzback, and NantoVision2, for sharing their treasures with the rest of us. I can only hope that as time goes on, as Sesame Workshop keeps digging into their archives, and as rare tapes keep circulating among fans, we’ll get more of these. I’d love to see Michael Earl Davis’s Snuffy*, or a full Deena and Pearl sketch (in English), or Kermit’s temporary News Flash replacement Warren Wolf, or the talking rock characters I vaguely remember seeing when I was about four years old who sang a song with David unless that was maybe just a dream I had. So keep ’em coming, YouTubers!
*VERY EXCITING UPDATE! Alert reader Michael Wermuth has pointed out to me that there is a clip on YouTube that includes Michael Earl Davis’s Snuffy. It’s from the episode with Mr. Rogers! Check it out:
Did I miss any obscure character videos? Click here to clue me in on the Tough Pigs forum!
by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com