Curriculum of the day: Relational Concepts: Beginning/End
Today, we wrapped shooting the 41st season of Sesame Street. Sadly, since we only produce 26 new shows a year (as compared to 116 shows 20 years ago), our season is only six extraordinarily packed weeks of shooting. This doesn’t include the Murray "Word of the Day
" segments that are shot more guerilla-style on the streets of New York, or the new “Abby Flying Fairy School
,” which is animation and takes over a year to complete.
Wrap time is always slightly nostalgic and sad, since we don’t see people now for long stretches of time between shoots. So, tonight there will be a wrap party at a billiards hall near the studio where lots of toasts and hugs will be given, as well as awards and bottles of wine for people who got engaged, married or had babies. (Last year, Marty and I got four bottles for getting engaged, married and having two babies!)
We used to do the wrap parties on the actual set. Because the crew had to work these parties rather than enjoy them, and we moved to a smaller studio, the wrap parties started happening “off campus” a few years ago. These earlier studio wrap parties used to be quite lavish affairs. People such as John Tartaglia
and Alan Muraoka
would perform as well as other talented crewmembers. Often these were spoofs such as Alan and Telly singing “Everybody Poots.” And then, there was the infamous Muppet performance. This show, usually written by Joey Mazzarino, was always a parody and very blue. Parents were warned ahead of time it was NOT suitable for children (but children came anyway). One year, it was Elmo the snobby star in Hollywood because of the “Tickle Me Elmo” craze. Another time, it was a Letterman-style show called “Late Night with Oscar the Grouch” and once it was a marketing spoof about all the Sesame Street products.
One of the most famous wrap party moments of all is when Mr. Snuffleupagus ate the child. Snuffy was replacing Big Bird who usually opened the show with a joke. Snuffy was so nervous, and got so frustrated because he was making mistakes, that when a child (the nephew of Frankie Biondo our cameraman) came up to get an autograph and called him the wrong name, Snuffy ate him. Literally.
(Frankie Biondo with his nephew being eaten by Mr. Snuffleupagus!)
Marty and the boy had worked the entire moment out earlier. He was able to put Snuffy’s mouth down around the boy and once he was mostly inside, Marty could pick him up and hold him upside-down inside the costume. The boy was able to put his hands onto Marty’s feet and then stay there as Snuffy walked off the stage. The boy was so good, he even succeeded in kicking his legs as he was “swallowed.” As a person in the audience, I never laughed so hard in my life.
At the next season wrap party, Snuffy came on to start the show again, but he wasn’t feeling well. He had a tummy ache for some strange reason. Suddenly, he started to heave, and he “threw-up” the same boy from last season, now wearing a tattered shirt and covered in goo. Another bust-a-gut moment for the Sesame history books.
So, with lots of memories, we say, “It’s a wrap,” for now.