Sesame Street Blog

Sesame Family Robinson – From making Muppets to Raising Moppets

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Hospital Days

Number of the day: 4

Time to inducing—4 days and counting.   

Meanwhile, entertaining myself in the hospital is not easy. The TV is so far away, it gives me a headache. The food? Lacking in all ways, especially since Marty has been cooking such wonderful meals for me. I also keep wondering why they’re giving me cookies and pudding for dessert when I have gestational diabetes. I have a small cold which isn’t helpful, making me cough and feel lousy. Nurses come and go, changing shifts, which makes the entire event feel like purgatory. I try to keep people laughing to entertain myself. When Marty is here, we have fun making silly, hospital movies with Telly Monster. Staff keep visiting our room to meet the “Sesame Street” people, which is lovely sometimes and interrupts shots other times.   Thank goodness for the computer. I write this blog and write skits to keep my mind occupied when I’m alone. I’m about to become a mother and it is a bit overwhelming. I’m afraid of what’s coming up, wishing I could somehow go back to life without these strange creatures inside me that are about to utterly alter my existence. I’m in no-babies-yet land as time ticks onward. 5-4-3-2-1—ACTION!

Grandma Visits

Curriculum of the day:  Family

Grandma Pat came for a visit. It was so lovely to have her here. She spent most of the time just holding the girls and enjoying meals cooked by her two sons. I tried to give her and Marty a lot of private time to talk. It wasn’t hard since I have a Sesame script to write. My first show is called “Don’t Wake the Baby” with Telly and Elmo trying to keep people quiet when Leela is babysitting her little niece. Of course, they only proceed to make more noise. The girls seemed to love their Grandma’s face and performed several of their “puppeteered” songs for her.

The girls on their jungle safari play mat.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Word of the Day: Deadline

I made my deadline.    

The Itsy Bitsy Spider show is in. Telly, Elmo and Rosita are waiting for the Itsy Bitsy Spider so they can say the rhyme while she climbs the waterspout but she doesn’t show up. Worried that she might be lost, they go and look for her in the usual spider places—the ground, on plants. (What’s our curriculum?  Nature!) Instead, they come upon a dung beetle, a caterpillar, and a bumblebee before they are pointed in the direction of a web. There, Ms. Itsy Bitsy is guarding her egg sac, which is just about to hatch. The gang invents a new rhyme about waiting for a sac to hatch, then out pours little spiders saying, “Mommy!”

Am I a writer who is a new mother or what!?

The First Phone Call

Curriculum of the Day:  Modern Technology

 I talked to Ripley on the phone for the first time.

I was coming back from a meeting with Joey Mazzarino, the head writer on Sesame Street domestic, and Marty put Ripley on the telephone. I talked very loud (not unusual for me) and slow (very unusual for me), and several times she babbled back. I was laughing so hard I almost zipped through the E-ZPass lane without holding up my pass. (I was talking on headphones—safety first!)   

The Itsy Bitsy Spider show is all done. Weeooo! Now, on to my third and final show of this season. Got to think of some ideas before I head to Bangladesh on the 26th. I also have to start my inserts sometime soon. Inserts are the short Muppet bits that pepper throughout the show. For example: the classic Grover Near/Far; or Elmo talking with a celebrity. Right now, we write a 12­­–15 minute-long Street story, which starts the show. Then, we write a letter insert, a number insert, and one other wild insert that can be a production song or a parody. One of my wild cards last year was a spoof of Mad Men with everyone being mad, then being sad, then being happy. 

Ripley talking on the phone to her Mommy.

Sisimpur Workshop Day 1

Curriculum of the Day:   Traffic Safety

Dhaka is a city with no traffic lights. If you do stumble across one, no one obeys it anyway. I haven’t been here for two years. There’s a noticeable change in the traffic—more cars, less rickshaws. The roads are still a free-for-all. You just have to hold on and trust your driver. All the buses are scraped along the sides. Driving here is a contact sport. 

Dhaka any time of day.

We arrived at the BRAC Center at 9:30 a.m. and made our way to the familiar 21st floor. We’ve held two other workshops here. It’s a glass room with a roof balcony that gives you a 180 degree view of Dhaka.   

Our view from the balcony. The new condos on the right get an excellent view of the slums. Quite a juxtaposition.

A great view of the local mosque. The loudspeaker call for prayers interrupts us every day.

Many of the writers are the same so it was “old home week” with Ratan (Dada), our executive producer, and Litu, our head writer, still leading the group. Hugs and handshakes and introductions all around.

With our new New York producer, Mary Tai, we spent the entire morning watching last season footage, debating what worked and what did not. The puppeteers arrived and we discussed the characters, redoing the bible and trying to develop each of them further. These puppeteers are young people that Marty hired almost six years ago while they were still in college. They look at him like a god so it’s nice to tell them how well he’s doing and show them pictures of the girls.

We are moving from individual skits this season to three scene storylines so we watched some video of the India and Indonesia shows which already use this structure. Galli Galli Sim Sim in India has a particularly excellent website.

We broke at 6:30 and Mary, June (research NY) and I went to the upstairs hotel restaurant. I had duck, a very welcome class of red wine and a fabulous mango pudding with chocolate ice cream.

I retreated to my room, took another bath and slept like a log.

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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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