There's just something about meeting a celebrity that can reduce the most self-assured, confident people to fits of nervous giggles. And when that celebrity is someone you've watched on television since childhood, it can be an unnerving experience. You might think I'm talking about a politician here. Or perhaps a famous musician. Or maybe even a movie star. Nope. I'm talking about a furry blue monster who stands a couple feet tall.
That's right, at the BlogHer conference, I had the opportunity to meet one of my favorite Muppets, Grover, and the man who brings him to life, Eric Jacobson. I have to say that speaking to Grover was more disconcerting than speaking to a room full of fellow bloggers. There's just something about talking to someone's hand, even if it is covered in blue fur, that's a little strange. I'd be a little worried what that says about me except that I heard person after person tell Grover things like, "I can't believe I'm getting to meet you!" and "I still have the Grover doll I got when I was one year old!" I saw one person even tear up while meeting her cute, adorable pal, Grover.
Grover with Eric Jacobson
I spoke with Eric Jacobson, who, by the way, sounded nothing like Grover while talking to me. Eric is the voice of Grover and Miss Piggy, among others and has been for 10 years, when he succeeded Frank Oz. I asked Eric how long it took him to learn to move the puppet while saying his lines in the appropriate voice and staying out of view from the camera. He joked, "Let's see... I've been doing this 14 years now..."
"Did you put on puppet shows for your family and friends when you were a kid? Did you always want to be a puppeteer?" I inquired. "I put on puppet shows as much as any other kid, but I never thought, "Wow, I want to be a puppeteer when I grow up!" Eric answered.
"You've obviously gotten to meet and work with a lot of celebrities over the last ten years. Do any moments stick out in your mind as being especially remarkable?" He told me one of the biggest highlights was when singer Paul Simon asked him and Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, to join him on a PBS special "Celebrating the Music of Paul Simon." Paul wrote a version of The 59th Street Bridge Song for Grover and Elmo to sing to him.
When I asked him which character he liked doing the best, he told me that Grover was his favorite Muppet. Eric and Ellen Lewis Gideon, Vice President of Corporate Communications, agreed that it's difficult to choose just one when Jim Henson and Frank Oz have created such interesting and fun characters with such depth and unique qualities. We went on to talk about how Sesame Street is so enjoyable for both kids and adults.
"It's really like a big family, " says Ellen who told me that although the production crew isn't on staff, the same people come back to work season after season. "We've been together for thirty years. And the writers are amazing," said Ellen. They write on two levels so kids are entertained while learning and parents enjoy watching as well." That's true, isn't it? If I was forced to watch some of the shows that my kids like, I would have to claw out my eyes and stab my eardrums. Not Sesame Street. We not only like that fact that it's good, educational and fun for our children, but we parents remember watching the show back when we were kids too. Who could ever forget Mr. Hooper? Or, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5...6, 7, 8, 9, 10...11, 12? Or the ladybug picnic?
Speaking of all those great clips we remember from when we were kids, Sesame Street is launching a new website on August 11 that will feature over 3000 video clips of the show. I can't wait to fill my sister's inbox with clips accompanied by exclamations of, "Do you remember this one?" I got a chance to preview their new website and it's super child friendly, easy to use, and has some great parental controls to ensure online safety. I just know that SesameStreet.com is going to be Clay and Lexi's favorite new site come August 11th.
Me with Abby Cadabby
Puppeteer Leslie Carrara-Rudolph
I don't know who is cuter - Abby Cadabby or her bubbly puppeteer, Leslie Carrara-Rudolph.
Me with Grover