I’m a big fan of Sesame Street. Always have been! I read somewhere that they have to hang Snuffleupagus from the ceiling to store him. Is that true? Also, what is it like being inside Snuffleupagus? How do you move his eyes and mouth? Do you have some kind of air conditioning system in there? How do you work with the puppeteer in the back end?
St. Louis, Missouri
Thanks for tuning in to Sesame Street. Goodness. In this age of 500 channels, we need all the fans we can get.
You read it correctly; we do hang Snuffy from the ceiling to store him. He is a big boy but hoists easily. There is a lovely shot of just that in the big new book: Sesame Street: A Celebration
on page 95 . . . not that I’m pushing product or anything.
Funny that you ask about the inside workings of Snuff. I recently finished another HandyMan film where he goes to work inside the Snuff suit. It is complete with infrared night vision of him climbing around inside working the controls. It was posted on the blog a few weeks ago—take a look
There’s no air conditioning inside the costume, or I’d have to carry that around too! Between takes, Snuffy’s handlers fan fresh air in through the mouth. I actually prefer to work warm—less likely to pull a muscle that way. But some days I’ll go through 3-4 T-shirts.
The puppeteer in the back of Snuffy is Bryant Young
, who has actually been doing it longer than I have. He is really the unsung hero of the beast. Bryant has to keep leaning back to maintain the stretch between us. He is a professional ballet dancer and choreographer, so any time Snuffer has to do any real dancing, I leave it up to the back end. We are good friends, he and I. For a nice shot of Bryant and I doing our Snuff thing, see page 201 in the Sesame Street: A Celebration book . . . again, not that I am hawking product or anything.
When you have twins, people say, “Don’t compare,” but I’m telling you, it’s nearly impossible not to. You wonder why one is having so much trouble with something and the other one isn’t. How do you deal with this issue of comparing your twins?
Wow, this really is a true statement and very difficult for us as well. I recently read the book “Siblings Without Rivalry” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish to learn more about this very issue. It talks about the need to focus on each child individually and whatever he or she is feeling, rather than comparing his or her behavior to a brother’s or sister’s. Marty and I have made a vow to really try to not do this, but only yesterday I found myself saying, “Your sister is eating the refried beans.” I covered my mouth in horror, then rephrased the statement to, “Refried Beans taste good, try them.” I know it’s going to be a major part of our journey as parents to look at the twins as two very different people, (And they really are!) and focus on their issues individually. You know the old saying—compare, despair!
I watched the “Daddy's Nightmare” video and couldn't help but laugh at your girls playing with the box. Typical! I have the same climbing frame for my 3-year-old, Arran. The last packing box we received was for car headlights, which had a pile of shredded paper in it. It only took moments for the front room to be covered in "snow.” Also, he can follow Pinky Dinky Doo very well. Well done.
P.S. Just wait until they start asking "why" about everything. You've definitely got your hands full with the twins. Happy New Year.
Dear Robinson Family,
Hey there! Thank you so much for your blogging. I enjoy visiting your site. It brings a smile to my face every time I read it. This morning, getting back into the swing of things at work, I dropped in to see how ya'll and your girls are doing. The last time I read your blog, I think your twins were one year old. (I haven't dropped in to see ya'll in a while since I delivered Gracie, our little girl, in May 2010. I’ve been so busy!) I laughed and laughed at the “Daddy's Worst Nightmare” video. Oh my goodness. Too funny and so true—give a child a box and watch their imagination grow! It was our Gracie's first Christmas, and I bought her only four gifts. Then I went to the dollar store and got her little bowls and spoons, etc. She loves them more than the expensive stuff! When I get home from work every day, we play and play with those simple bowls and spoons in the kitchen while I cook dinner. LOL! Her daddy plays like he is eating from them, too! She has such an imagination. Take care and blessings to your family. :) Please keep bloggin’. Your family is such a blessing to others. Cheers!
Hey Drew and Susan...
When I first began making the little films for the website, I often planned them all out with shot lists and storyboards. But as the girls are getting older (they’ll be 2 in February), basically I see what they are up to, point the camera at them, and edit down the results. "Daddy's Nightmare" was a challenge because the camera was pointed at my actions mostly, and I'm not particularly comfortable with that. (I am a puppeteer for good reasons!) Usually, I put myself through all kinds of torturous nonsense when I am assembling complicated things with instructions in Swedish, but having everyone there as I put together the playset was great fun, and kept me focused and sane. It's an old joke, playing with the box the toy came in. But these old jokes stick around because they tend to be true. Ultimately, kids’ imaginations are always more wondrous than any toy.
Thanks for your feedback!
- Martin R.
We got a letter recently from Phouka who comments on the Elmo phenomenon
since my daughters learned Elmo’s name long before any other character:
For what it's worth, Elmo has an unfair advantage: He's red. The first color we see as our vision develops is red, so of course your girls are drawn to Elmo. As their vision develops, they should discover and adore Telly, too.
Kermit Love, one of the original Muppet designers also used to say, “Elmo is popular because Elmo is red.” It also helps that Kevin Clash
is a brilliant performer.
I can say that we are making an effort to get our classic characters back into the show where we can. Super Grover 2.0
is a big hit, and we’re already writing more of his segments. Big Bird, Oscar, Cookie, and Grover are also often in Street stories
. The producers try to put old Bert and Ernie library bits into the show when it’s possible.
Thanks for writing!
How often is the Telly puppet renewed or replaced?
There are actually very few Telly puppets—two to be exact. Telly was rebuilt about ten years ago by taking apart the existing Telly and creating a new pattern from his pieces. He had been altered and tucked so many times that the original pattern no longer applied. At that point, they also rebuilt a full-body Telly for photo setups, which I use now as an alternate. The entry to the arms is very different on both puppets, making them useful in various types of camera setups. The original Telly was retired, but lives at my home. I use him for all the films introduced by Telly on the blog.