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Sesame Family Robinson – From making Muppets to Raising Moppets

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Northern Ireland and “Sesame Tree”

Word of the Day:  International

Marty and I are going next week to Belfast to do workshops for the second season of the Northern Ireland show, which is called Sesame Tree.  We taught the original workshops almost three years ago. I worked with the four main writers and Marty cast and trained the puppeteers. I always joke about that workshop being a very easy gig. I mean, teach the Irish how to write comedy? They know the kind of humor Sesame Street is based on—the vaudeville/music hall “blackout sketch” (a beginning, middle and end with a twist that ends with a blackout). Most of the writers also watched The Muppet Show as kids. This crew knew the vernacular, so my main job was to help them with the truly difficult task of using curriculum and educational content in every scene without sounding “teachy.” The team did a fabulous job. The show is in excellent shape for having completed only one season.

Our main goal in the few days Marty and I will be there is to help the show jump up to another level since it has been picked up by the network "CBeebies." It's comparable to going from Noggin to ABC. It's big news and everyone is very excited about it. So, the show needs to be even funnier and tighter to compete with other shows as well as appeal to kids across Great Britain. A creative challenge I know this team is ready to do.
We’re bringing the girls with us. We didn’t realize they needed passports. I guess since 9/11 all Americans need them to travel abroad. So, we had to do a rush job of getting the pictures and forms in and processed.   

 Here are our little girls in their formal passport snapshots.
I think they look very international, but I’m their mother.
Here are our little girls in their formal passport snapshots.

We’re going to take one extra day to go visit some Neolithic ruins south of Belfast. We can’t stay away too long because of Sesame Street shooting but we always like to try and do one cultural or tourist destination on every trip. We’ll have to carry the girls through the small underground caverns, so I’m packing our Baby Bjorns for our 20 pound girls. The Irish production team has hired for us a staff member’s babysitter for the days we’re working, which is always very relieving. If someone uses this person for their own children, you have to trust they’re good.

So, watch for pictures from pubs next week.

On another note—our garden has finally been harvested completely. In our effort to live the Sesame Street “Bein’ Green” curriculum, we actually attempted to pick all the vegetables we planted this year, rather than having them rot on the vine since we’re always too busy to actually go get them. Here’s Marty with the bounty.

Marty Robinson with peppers in a basket.

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Like your family we have twins, boy/girl, that turned three last month. I saw your blog entry for January and it looks like we have something in common, potty training twins. Like one of your girls, my son WILL NOT pee in the potty but his sister was doing well until she caught on to "Bubbie" not trying. I was just letting things run their course but our local pre-schools/mommy day out programs require the children to be potty trained and this mommy needs a day out. Bribery isn't working. Have you had any success?


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How often is the telly puppet renewed or replaced?

Katherine Sydney, Australia

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I read in 40 Years of Life on the Street about an incident involving Snuffy's puppet where a sombrero caused the wood frame to collapse on you and Bryant Young. Did they rebuild the puppet after that or did they just make a new one?


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I just wanted to say thanks for the blog. My daughter Kylie (who just turned two yesterday) loves to ask if we are going to see "the babies." Thank you so much to you and Marty for bringing the joy of Sesame Street into our lives every day.

Kendal and Kylie Montreal, Canada

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I've noticed that there are fewer Muppets and people in an episode now than there were twenty years ago. Does everyone show up on the set for filming days or only certain ones? Who decides who gets to play the Anything Muppets? There are some voices I hear more than others.


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