FOF #926 – Sesame Street Cred

Feb 6, 2009 · 73548 views

Author Michael Davis on his new book "Street Gang: the Complete History of Sesame Street."Sesame Street began in 1969 as a result of a question posed at a dinner party: “Could television be used to teach children, could learning be a form of entertainment?”

After forty years, the award winning program not only taught oodles of children how to count and recite the alphabet, but also taught them to embrace diversity and inclusiveness.

Whether black or white, tall and yellow or small and green, everyone had a home on Sesame Street.

We love the muppets because, much like ourselves, they aren’t perfect creatures. We see our own humanity in those furry faces with beady eyes as they deal with problems of everyday life.

Sesame Street showed animals, monsters and people living together and working through their differences, which influenced a huge population of children that eventually grew up to enthusiastically support diversity, technicolor hair and our nation’s first black president.

Street GangOn today’s show we’re talking to author Michael Davis about his book Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street. In his book Michael takes an in-depth look at the groundbreaking program from it’s inception to the present day, covering some interesting behind-the-scenes conflicts which were a part of the creative energy of the show.

Listen as we talk with Michael about hipsters and squares and the program’s counter cultural influence, KAMI, the HIV Positive Monster from South Africa and Bert & Ernie as Gay Icons

Find out how Sesame Street coped with the painful death of Actor Will Lee, who portrayed Mr. Hooper on the show, and the deaths of the behind the scenes masters: puppeteer Richard Hunt from AIDS, musician Joe Raposo from cancer and Muppet founder Jim Henson from toxic shock syndrome.

Plus questions from you, the listeners.

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Featured Book:
Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis

Featured Music:
Smart E’s – Sesame’s Treat: Amazon

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    Comments

  1. Jamie says:

    LOVE this show. I always related to Bert & Erny, and Mr. Snufleupigus (I liked his long trunk). Mmmmm.

  2. Marty Mouse says:

    I loved this show and your guest. This brought back happy memories. Thanks for a great interview.

  3. Cheeky says:

    Great show, I love me some muppet puppets! x x x

  4. Rhea says:

    I loved, loved, LOVED this episode. Keep up the Muppet voices!

    As a wee child, Sesame Street (especially its Canadian edition) gave me a greater appreciation of diversity of people and class, but of linguistic diversity as well. I honestly don’t know if I would have become a translator if I had grown up in a world without Sesame Street, with its catchy French and Spanish language segments.

    I’m definitely going to pick up Michael Davis’s book.

    (“a loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter.”)

  5. RcktMan says:

    Hey guys… I was out of town all weekend and just got a chance to listen to the show. I absolutely LOVED it. I’m still reading the book, and am constantly amazed at how rich and detailed the history behind Sesame Street is. Michael was a delightful guest, and his insight behind our favorite television program is so much fun to hear. I especially loved hearing him do the voices of some of our favorite Muppets. (His “Near!” “Faaaar!” sounded exactly like yours, Fausto!)

    To those who have not yet bought the book… BUY it! It is worth every penny. You will feel like you are getting an insider’s look at everything that went on to create this magnificent show. It’s wonderfully written and incredibly interesting.

    Thank you, Fausto and Marc, for a fantastic week of shows! :)

  6. Matthew says:

    Check out Elmo on an Australian chat show:

  7. CharlesVer33 says:

    Love this interview guys! Can’t wait to read the book.

  8. TrickyToro says:

    Michael was incredibly sweet and quite endearing. This interview for me was a total childhood touchstone. Really marvelous show today guys. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

  9. BASboy says:

    I found this a great interview show. I learned so much. I am torn as to get it on Audible.com or buy the book as the pictures in the book would probably add a lot to it, but then again I have so much to read already I don’t know if I want to add another book to the pile, or hopefully the new Kindle (need to start socking away my tips for this thing, it’s my goal to not charge and to pay off my debts.)

  10. PureeTofu says:

    Great episode guys. I’ll admit, it is hard to watch the transformation that the Muppets and Sesame Street have gone through since Jim Henson’s death. I still hold the “old” Muppet Family Christmas special deep in my heart (Where everybody goes to Fozzie’s Grandma’s house, including the gang from Sesame Street).

    It is interesting to see Sesame Street evolve into what it has become today. I remember during the 80′s (my childhood) it being designed for 3-5 yr olds, with Ghost Writer and 1-2-3 Contact being for my older years. Now it is clear that Sesame Street has to compete with Barney, TeleTubbies, Yabba Grabba (or whatever it is called) and the other mindless colorful shows produced for 1-4 yr olds.

    Either way, I can’t wait to read the book and learn some history about such a great show!

  11. Alex says:

    This was a great interview. I got me youtubing all the old sesame street segments I loved as a kid. What’s funny is, I used to be afraid of the one with the ball rolling through all the metal stuff. I remember especially the part where it goes into a saxophone. I dunno, I was a weird kid. I actually had a little reminiscing moment over the summer where my mom and I looked youtubed all the stuff we used to watch together when I was a kid. It was great. And p.s.! Who remembers the one that was like Indian themed where they count to 12? Oh man! I love it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HOCExQ2lrO4

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