Joey Mazzarino MurrayLongtime Sesame Street head writer and Muppet performer Joey Mazzarino announced in a Facebook post Wednesday that he is leaving the show.

Mazzarino first showed up on Sesame Street as a performer in 1989.  Within a few years he was writing for the show as well, and he became the head writer for the 40th season.

Mazzarino has often played one-off characters — from monsters to birds, from fairy-tale creatures to talking snowballs, all frequently high-strung and/or neurotic — but he also performed his share of regular and recurring Muppets.  There was Joey, a monkey who really liked bananas. There’s Stinky the Stinkweed, who improbably continued to appear on the show periodically for 20 years after his debut.  There’s Papa Bear, the boisterous father of Baby Bear who somehow comes across as a completely accurate portrayal of a bear dad.  And there’s Murray, the inquisitive monster with the wide smile who has essentially hosted the show for several seasons, as well as teaching various subjects alongside his lamb friend Ovejita.

My favorite Joey Mazzarino character just might be Horatio the elephant, the extremely silly and excitable fellow often seen wearing a tutu.  It may be that a percentage of Sesame Street‘s adult audience preferred Horatio in sporadic doses, but I’ve always found him hilarious, and Mazzarino’s energy is a huge part of the character.

And these are just his contributions to the show as a performer.  Mazzarino has written or co-written a ton of great stuff for Sesame over the years, including “Pre-School Musical,” the “Golden Triangle of Destiny” episode, and the “I Love My Hair” song.  And those are just some of the things we know about (most of which come from our 2009 interview with him)!

Sesame Street will certainly be different without one of its most prolific writers and performers of the past few decades.  Whatever Mazzarino does next, we wish him well, whether it involves stinkweeds or not.

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by Ryan Roe – Ryan@ToughPigs.com

Horatio elephant

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