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September 3, 2015

Sesame Street's 40th: Five funniest characters

by Danny Gallagher, posted Nov 13th 2009 11:02AM
It's not surprising that a colorful and lively show like Sesame Street, one devised by the genius that was Muppets creator Jim Henson, was at heart a comedy. What is surprising is that so many adults who grew up with the show still find it so damn funny (or maybe that has more to do with the rise of marijuana use, but beggars can't be users, er, choosers).

In fact, a recent box set of the show's earliest episodes came with a disclaimer that the episodes contained within it were "not for kids." That's also because it contained the rare lost episode from the early 1970s when Grover and Prairie Dawn accidentally wandered into the Plato's Retreat swingers club where they learned the difference between "top" and "bottom".

The point is adults can find just as much to laugh at as their kids do and here are the biggest chortle-makers.

5. The Yip-Yips
Like all of Henson's characters, his version of aliens took a new and fresh approach to the look, feel and sound of intelligent life from a distant planet. Instead of giving them giant heads, black eyes and Smith 'n Wessnon manufactured anal probes, he turned them into reverse sock puppets with big Richard Nixon jowls and a completely nonsensical language with a few English words wrapped around nothing but "Yip-Yips" and "Uh huh, uh huhs" that gets funnier every time you hear it.

4. Cookie Monster

Cookie Monster is the Hank Moody of Sesame Street, a wild monster fueled by his animal lust for high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil whose daily conflict always comes from within, both physically and emotionally. He not only teaches kids the value of self control and moderation (yes whiny liberal fusspots, even before he started eating veggies), but also the dangers of over-medication and the importance of stronger drug legislation.

3. Grover
Every kids show needs a comic relief character, whether the goal is to get kids to learn the order of the alphabet or teach them how to pitch just the right tantrum so their parents buy the show's official sugary cereal. Grover always make for that great comic moment. His character has an undying enthusiasm for whatever he's doing whether he's a waiter in Charlie's Restaurant or the hapless super hero Super Grover on his never-ending need to be helpful, even if his help is less helpful than "Baconnaise Lite".

2. Elmo
Sure he may have become one of the Earth's most over-marketed and overexposed toy fads in the history of the universe, but admit it, he's damn funny. When he's on Sesame Street, he can be funny in a cute kid kind of way. But out in the real world, Elmo (thanks in part to the wit of his voice and operator Kevin Clash) can have you literally laughing until it feels as though a small alien larvae is about to burst out of your stomach because he wants to know what the hell is making you laugh so hard. Anyone, be it human or monster, who can make Ricky Gervais laugh deserves to get paid more than scale.

1. Bert and Ernie
The list of great comedy duos isn't long (Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Cheech and Chong, Bush and Quayle), but one twosome has always remained suspiciously absent. Bert and Ernie have been with the show since the very beginning and always managed to carve out a few laughs out whatever scene they were performing together. And they were particularly special because their best moments were never over-the-top or completely crazy to the point of becoming a live action cartoon that drew comedy from their weird friendship. Keep any comments to yourself. Yes, I'm looking at you, Seth MacFarlane.

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Diana B.

WHAT??!!!! No Oscar the Grouch? He's funnier than all the rest of them combined. Also, Big Bird because he's so naive.

November 15 2009 at 8:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm shocked! that Oscar the Grouch isn't on this list. Watching the video of he and Johnny Cash singing "Nasty Dan" still cracks me up to this day.

November 13 2009 at 11:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michelle's comment

Agreed! Cookie and Grover should also be higher than Elmo for sure! I would put Ernie and Grover as my top two... and replace Elmo with Oscar or the Mahna Mahna guy.

November 13 2009 at 10:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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