Everybody Who’s Anybody Is On Sesame Street

I have been waiting YEARS for someone to tell me how to get to Sesame Street. They drop the question in the theme song, but the show debuted 45 years ago today and still nobody has answered it.

When I was 3, one of the kids who hung around Mr. Hooper’s store looked like my neighborhood best friend, and I stewed for days over how she got on the show.

In preschool, Sesame Street led to my first ever wave of nostalgia. On a class field trip, my teacher turned on Sesame Street for us in her conversion van, and I realized that the show was still airing every day without me – when I was stuck playing duck duck goose with a bunch of sticky-handed tots who couldn’t even read yet. Remember, this was 1990, when there were no 24-hour children’s networks or YouTube clips. The only way to get to Sesame Street was to stay home from school.

A few years after that, one of my friends was convinced she was going to be on Sesame Street because of a donation her mom made during the annual PBS drive. Nope, that’s not how you get to Sesame Street either!

And now, as a full adult, I’d like to get to Sesame Street more than ever. Sure, part of it is that it represents a time in life when you could watch t.v. in your pajamas during the day. But mostly, these days it’s all about the guest stars. These clips make me feel as mad as I did in 1990, realizing that Sesame Street dares to go on without me every day:

Comedians Are On Sesame Street!

Jon Stewart delivered the fake, fake news.

Amy Poehler exercised (sort of!) with Elmo.

Ricky Gervais says “stumble” so many times it no longer sounds like a word.

And Cedric The Entertainer makes me wonder whether canteens are more relevant to kids’ lives than I realized. I grew up in the era of juice boxes.

Tina Fey is some sort of a book pirate.

What’s more adorable than Jimmy Fallon? Jimmy Fallon with Elmo. It’s all a bit much  for me.


Maya Rudolph raps, sings and dances with Elmo. Also I think she has a real future in children’s television, if she wants it.

Conan O’Brien does startlingly good dog impressions.

Even Saturday Night Live itself is on Sesame Street.

Actors Are On Sesame Street!

John Kraskinski talks about the meaning of the word soggy, interacts with a non-Elmo Muppet, and is just generally as cute as a bug’s ear.

And he’s not the only cast member of The Office to make the trip from Scranton to… is it supposed to be New York? Steve Carrell teaches us about the importance of voting and snacks.

Melissa McCarthy learns choreography from a penguin with Elmo and it’s exactly as delightful as it sounds.

Jonah Hill is making sure today’s youth are aware of the inexplicable mustache trend that’s sweeping the nation.

Benedict Cumberbatch is just generally rakishly charming, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Tom Hiddleston. See comments re: Cumberbatch, Benedict.

Kristen Bell instructs us on the word “splatter” but does not instruct us on how she has managed not to age since Veronica Mars.

Our hometown hero, Taye Diggs, makes a three-year-old puppet drive him around.

Musicians Are On Sesame Street!

Remember when you couldn’t get away from Call Me Maybe? Well, it even made it to Sesame Street (no Carly Rae Jepsen, though).

Bruno Mars doesn’t want you to give up if you’re the kind of child who is bad at catching balls.

Usher teaches the alphabet and it’s just really, really good.

Even Queen Bey herself made it to Sesame Street, during her Destiny’s Child days.

You may remember this Katy Perry performance because a bunch of parents got mad that their toddlers, who stopped breastfeeding probably under 2 years ago, were exposed to Perry’s boobs. I really don’t know.

Delightful tap-percussioned group Tilly And The Wall even swung by for kids parents who are a bit more into the indie scene.

Political Figures Are On Sesame Street!

Sandra Sotomayor is hanging out with Abby Cadabby,  melting my cold lawyerly heart, and letting kids know that princess isn’t a job.

Kofi Annan suggests that the muppets resolve their conflict “the United Nations Way”; thereby creating a “choose your own punchline” moment for the grownups watching.

Michelle Obama does a little light gardening.

And lest you think Sesame Street is partisan, Laura Bush reads a book.

Assorted famous people of 1991 are on Sesame Street!

We focused on currently famous folks, but Sesame Street has been hosting celebs since before the age of the remote control. This video features a number of early 90s superstars, but if you search through the Sesame Street archives you can find many more guest stars who were on the show while you were stuck in school, wishing for another field trip so you could hop in a conversion van and get to Sesame Street via the grainy tv set.

 

 

 

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The Collected Wisdom Of Celebrity Graduation Speeches

Now that it’s graduation season, I want to toss some nuggets of wisdom to all you graduates and graduettes:

  1. Commencement means beginning! Ugh sorry.
  2. Graduation is boring.
  3. The worst part is the speeches. I had to wait until law school graduation to hear a good one. It was probably not worth the crushing debt.
  4. Wherever you’re graduating from probably had an awesome speaker… last year.
  5. Your speaker will make a joke at the beginning of the address about giving a short speech, but alas;
  6. The speaker will not.

If your speaker was boring, irrelevant, or awful, then you should watch one of these great speeches instead. Or, if you aren’t graduating from anywhere, play these if you ever feel yourself in need of a pep talk. Watching these speakers is like basking in the combined wisdom of Coach Taylor and Mrs. Coach, often accompanied by the rakish good looks of Tim Riggins.

The Comedians

Amy Poehler

“ You never know what is around the corner unless you peek. Hold someone’s hand while you do it. You will feel less scared. You can’t do this alone. Besides it is much more fun to succeed and fail with other people. You can blame them when things go wrong. Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible.”
“ Limit your “always” and your “nevers.” Continue to share your heart with people even if its been broken. Don’t treat your heart like an action figure wrapped in plastic and never used.”

I love Amy Poehler like my dog loves me. If you have a dog who’s not an asshole, you understand. Poehler can solve any dilemma, and make you laugh when she does it. That’s why, when I have any sort of life problem, I look to see if there’s an Ask Amy on-point (Amy: Please film something about first-time homebuying. It’s very hard.) Just think of this speech as an extended Ask Amy where the question is “what do I need to know to function as an adult?” Except she doesn’t get into the homebuying stuff.

Conan O’Brien

 ” In 2000, I told graduates “Don’t be afraid to fail.”  Well now I’m here to tell you that, though you should not fear failure, you should do your very best to avoid it.   Nietzsche famously said “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  But what he failed to stress is that IT ALMOST KILLS YOU.  Disappointment stings and, for driven, successful people like yourselves it is disorienting.  What Nietzsche should have said is  “Whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you watch a lot of Cartoon Network and drink mid-price Chardonnay at 11 in the morning.”[… ] [T]here are few things more liberating in this life than having your worst fear realized.  […] Your path at 22 will not necessarily be your path at 32 or 42.  One’s dream is constantly evolving, rising and falling, changing course.”

How many stories do you hear about people who know exactly what they’re going to be as a little kid, and spend their whole life working for it – as though it’s the most admirable course? Isn’t it just as good a story to keep growing as a person and finding new things you love and throwing yourself into them? I don’t think I’m a lesser person because I have knowledge of … you know, classical piano and Spanish linguistics that I don’t use in my everyday life; I think I’m better for the changed courses.

Fred Armisen


“Avoid people who tell you that something you want to do is not possible. You can all be male models… even the girls. Remember that there’s no one way of doing things.
Be around people who make you laugh. And if you can’t find anyone, make a group of friends out of hay, coconuts and hockey sticks. And no matter what you do in life, it’s okay.”
If you feel aimless and spend years doing a job that seems meaningless to you, even that is okay. You don’t necessarily have to be defined by your work. You will naturally gravitate to the things that make you happy.”

It’s sort of a new thing, this idea that you need to find a job that fulfills you – that you’d do without pay – in order to be an actualized person. As some have pointed out, that’s a privileged position to take. So I loved this idea that maybe the thing that brings you the most joy and makes you feel most fulfilled isn’t going to be your job.

Stephen Colbert

Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”

The day I stop being affected by improv as a life metaphor is the day I stop. Everything. Because what’s left after that?

The Writers

JK Rowling

It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

We hear a lot about Rowling writing Harry Potter in cafes while living in public housing. But what nobody says is that at the time, she had no way to know whether her book would succeed, or if she was even doing the right thing. You’re probably not going to write the next Harry Potter, but you’ve succeeded by at least trying. You have not, however, succeeded as much as the person who wrote Harry Potter. Sorry.

Neil Gaiman

” Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all the other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do.
Make good art.
I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.
Make it on the good days too.”

While I do love the advice above, I also really loved Tavi Gevinson’s response to it — that sometimes when things go really wrong, it’s okay if all you want to do is consume other people’s art. There’s value in being an observer too – she likened it to the Fat Lady metaphor in Franny and Zooey. So, make good art – if you can. If you can’t, just take in things that you think are good, instead.  When you can make art, it will make yours better. And if you never make anything, it will make you better.

Toni Morrison

If these are indeed the best years of your life, you do have my condolences because there is nothing, believe me, more satisfying, more gratifying than true adulthood. The adulthood that is the span of life before you. The process of becoming one is not inevitable. Its achievement is a difficult beauty, an intensely hard won glory, which commercial forces and cultural vapidity should not be permitted to deprive you of.

I’d listen to Toni Morrison talk even if she wasn’t really saying anything — but she is.

David Foster Wallace


“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
[…]  The capital-T Truth is about life BEFORE death. It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
“This is water.”
“This is water.”
It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime.”

If I were you I’d listen to the whole thing, if only because Wallace’s extended Supermarket story is a better description of the Fundamental Attribution Error – and why it matters, and how mindfulness and presence can combat it – than I learned in any college psych class.

John Green

“This is difficult to do—it is difficult to remember that people with lives different and distant from your own even celebrate birthdays, let alone with gifts of graffitied plywood. You will always be stuck inside of your body, with your consciousness, seeing through the world through your own eyes, but the gift and challenge of your education is to see others as they see themselves, to grapple with this mean and crazy and beautiful world in all its baffling complexity”

A graduation speech for all of us who sometimes get overwhelmed when we think about how everyone out there has as much of an inner life as we do.

The Musicians

Dolly Parton

Now if I have but one favor to ask of you, it’s that you care more. Did you ever notice that there are a whole lot of people that do things just well enough to get by? But, caring is about striving for perfection. It’s about how you look. It’s about how you prepare. And how you keep your commitments.

I’m not even sorry: I love Dolly Parton. She’s my favorite kind of person: she’s hilarious, she’s caring, and she’s an unlikely polymath. Really! Parton sings, acts, composes, writes, runs an entertainment empire, and has a great not-for-profit. Dolly sends books to every child born in Tennessee until the kid is 5. My nephew was born in Nashville, moved to New York, and still got the books. I loved her distinction between dreams and wishes, and I can’t think of a better role model for those of us who don’t feel the need to pick just one thing to do.

Patti Smith

You are never alone. You have friends and family. But you also have your ancestors. Your ancestors sing in your blood. Call to them: their strength through the ages will come into you. And then there are your spiritual ancestors. Call on them. They have set themselves up through human history to be at your disposal. Jesus said “I am with you always, even to the end of time.” Alan Ginsberg, Walt Whitman. They are with you. Choose the one you wish. He or she will walk with you. Don’t forget that: you are not alone.

In Just Kids, Patti and Robert Mapplethorpe loved their idols – poets, musicians, artists – as fiercely as you love people in your real life. So I don’t know how I missed that Smith saw this as a two-way relationship — your idols love you back, because when somebody inspires you they are guiding your steps. What is better than a universe so generous that it scatters these people throughout time for us, if we want to use them?

John Legend

“Soul is about authenticity. Soul is about finding things in your life that are real and pure, the things that you know are at your core, the things you were put on this earth to do, the moments when sound and silence come together.”

How To Fall In Love With John Legend In 14 Minutes Or Less: By John Legend. This speech is really good, everyone – a beautiful, accessible discussion of the politics of empathy.

Sean Combs

“Nobody is going to give you anything. There’s no rescue team coming, no National Guard, no aid coming. Nothing. You’re going to have to go out there and get it. And the only way forward is to decide you want that dream so bad that you are going to work harder, you’re going to get up earlier, you’re going to stay later, you’re going to push passed the people who doubted you, laughed at you, hated on you.”

Sean Combs, who we are allowed to call Puff Daddy again, gives the kind of tough love advice that graduates – and all of us – need to hear if we’re going to get things done. I also like the part where he says to imagine him singing in your ear “I thought I told you that we won’t stop.” In the unlikely event that I land a law school commencement speech, I will tell the graduates to picture me putting both my hands on their shoulders, leaning very close to their face, and screaming “GET JUSTICE! GO! GET JUSTICE! GO!”, so I really like this approach.

Everyone’s Got Jokes at the Nerd Prom

On Saturday, the biggest names in Hollywood and media will descend upon Washington D.C. to mix and mingle with the slightly less ‘household name-y’ politicians of the nation’s capital for the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, or what is otherwise (lovingly) called the ‘Nerd Prom’.

While the White House Correspondents’ Association is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the dinner itself has been around since 1944. As the years go on, the event has seemingly become more ‘Hollywood’ (much to the chagrin of critics) as the press get to invite their own guests to the dinner, which usually results in the attendance of a veritable Who’s Who in the zeitgeist.

For example this year, USA Today is hosting Taylor Schilling and Uzo Aduba of Orange is the New Black, NBC News has invited Kevin Hart and Olympic snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg, while ABC News is keeping it in the network fam with Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet and Sofia Vergara, and of course no D.C. event isn’t complete with out Darby ‘Sassy Gabby’ Stanchfield, and the POTUS & FLOTUS Tony Goldwyn and Bellamy Young.

Not to mention a comedian is hired every year to host, with the 2014 honor going to The Soup’s own Joel McHale (#SixSeasonsAndAMovie). He’s used to slamming reality TV and news hosts on his show, but will he be able to bring politics in the mix? (My answer: yes)

Over the years, talented comedians have been asked to prepare a comedic speech – usually a roast of the President and politicians – and some have proven to be better than others. Here’s a list of my favorites from the past few years – and a President for good measure.

5) 2012 – Jimmy Kimmel

Best Jokes:

“If you told me when I was a kid I would be standing on a dais with President Barack Obama, I would have said, ‘The president’s name is Barack Obama?'”

“Remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow? That was hilarious.”

To New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: “I think you’re misunderstanding New Jersey’s slogan. It’s not the Olive Garden state.”

“Where are the CNN tables? Are the CNN tables real tables or virtual tables?”

4) and 3) 2011 & 2013 – Barack Obama

Because the President gets to crack his own jokes too. And Obama has been the absolute best.

2011 aka The One with Uncomfortable Donald Trump in the Audience

Best Jokes:

Basically all of the Donald Trump part.

2013 aka The One Where We Realized Barry O Had Better Comic Timing and Delivery Than A Lot Of Actors in Hollywood

Best Jokes:

“This whole controversy about Jay Z going to Cuba. I got 99 Problems, and Jay Z is one of them. That’s another rap reference, Bill (O’Reilly).”

“The sequester… the Republicans fell in love with this thing. And now they can’t stop talking about how much they hate it. It’s like we’re trapped in a Taylor Swift album.”

“I remember when Buzzfeed was just something I did in college after 2am.”

On not being on the cover of magazines lately, while Michelle graced the cover of Vogue: “I guess I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be.”

“I’m also hard at work for plans on THE Obama Library, and some have suggested I put it in my birthplace, but I’d rather keep it in the United States.”

2) 2006 – Stephen Colbert

Ah, yes. The most controversial WHCD speech to date. Stephen Colbert went up as “Stephen Colbert” and basically shut down George W. Bush … to his face. Some fans of Bush even left the event because Colbert’s cutting remarks. But hey, who’s got the last laugh now?

Best Joke:

“I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound—with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.”

1) 2011 – Seth Meyers

The WHCD was made for Seth Meyers. He’s intelligent, knowledgable and able to pull off a joke without being rude. I mean this is a guy who had been the anchor on SNL’s Weekend Update for years, and he knows some of the best writers in the biz. Get them all together and you have a speech of Fey/Poehler Golden Globes-like proportions. And the best host of the dinner by far.

Best Jokes:

“This event tonight has grown past Washington and many Hollywood celebrities are also here tonight. John Hamm is here. Yea. John Hamm looks the way every Republican thinks they look. Zach Galifianakis is also here. Zach Galifianakis looks the way Republicans think every Democrat looks.”

“Let’s start with Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney wrote a book titled “No Apologies.” No apologies? When you have to proclaim ‘no apologies’ isn’t that a tacit admission you’ve made a lot of mistakes? If I come home from a trip to Vegas and the first thing I say to my girlfriend is ‘no apologies’, we’re going to have a follow-up conversation.”

“Donald Trump has been saying he will run for President as a Republican, which is surprising since I just assumed he was running as a joke… Donald Trump said recently he has a great relationship with the blacks, but unless the blacks are a family of white people I bet he is mistaken.”

“The President and Joe Biden were not invited to the Royal Wedding and when Biden found out he immediately said to the President: ‘you, me, Wedding Crashers 2.’ I’ll book us two Amtrak tickets to London. The Vice-President loves the trains. And I assume it must have been hard for the President to tell Biden the new budget cut $1.5 Billion from high speed rail. ‘Joe, come on in, take off your Engineer’s cap. I have some bad news about the Choo-choos.’ As he broke the news, one of the straps on Joe’s overalls, sadly drooped off his shoulder.”

Passing the Pickle: Preparing for Seth Meyers’ Late Night Debut

It started as a gift from Late Night creator David Letterman to his successor Conan O’Brien in 1993. Conan then gave it to Jimmy Fallon, and a few weeks ago, Jimmy gave it to Seth Meyers.

Yes, that is a giant pickle. A ceremonial torch, if you will (it all comes back to the Olympics, folks). When Conan gifted the odd item to Jimmy in 2009, he left a note that said, “Whenever you’re done, which won’t be for a long time, make sure you pass it on to the next sap. Knock ’em dead. Conan.”

With that, Seth became the next Late Night host, but he officially makes his debut on Monday, and one thing’s for sure – we’ll be watching.

Now if you’re not too familiar with Seth’s work or doubt he’s going to do a good job, here are a few reasons why I think he’ll be able to hold on to the pickle for a long, long time (stop, that didn’t sound dirty at all).

He’s Charlie Rose meets Stephen Colbert meets less enthusiastic Jimmy Fallon

Here’s the thing about Seth – he’s the straight man. Everything you need to know about him shows in the past eight years he’s been doing Weekend Update. He’s obviously funny, knows how to deliver a joke, but he’s smart – like intelligent smart. He’s into politics and can make a good joke about current events and then tell you in detail what he’s joking about. So don’t expect him to come out dancing with Justin Timberlake or singing with Bruce Springsteen. It’s a different kind of funny than his Late Night predecessor, and it’s a welcome one. The Fallon/Meyers duo will attract similar yet different audiences, but that’s exactly what NBC needs to draw in more viewers.

He knows how to bring the funny to interviews

You’ve seen him with Stefon (which is obviously scripted) but with real people, he has the goods too. Just watch him practice during a recent sit down with Ellen. And keep an eye out for Kanye – he’ll be a guest during Seth’s first week.

He can make politicians laugh

As previously mentioned, Seth is up on the world of politics. So much so that he was even tapped as the host of the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011. Basically it’s a chance for a comedian to spout out jokes in FRONT of the politicians they make fun of. It’s great. But if you can make them laugh, you’re doing a good job.

He can make athletes laugh

Because Seth is a well-rounded individual, he’s not only smart and up with politics but he’s a sports fan too. And that’s why he was invited to be the host of the ESPYs. Just look at all those athletes who could easily beat him up but choose not to because they know he’s funny and probably speaking the truth.

Fred Armisen as his bandleader

Happy Thanksgiving from Garth and Kat!

Guys. GUYS. FRED ARMISEN IS THE LEADER OF THE STUDIO 8G BAND. THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Before Fred graced us with his presence on SNL in 2002, he was a total rocker. In 1988 he was in a punk rock band called *Trenchmouth* and even played the drums for the Blue Man Group in Chicago in the ’90s. He showed his musical chops throughout his tenure on SNL, with characters like Fericito (one of my early faves), Ian Rubbish, and probably one of my all-time fave characters, Garth and Kat. Basically Lorne Michaels is slowly taking over NBC, and it’s fine.

A+ Writers/Crew

Listen up, nerds: this writing staff is great already and I haven’t even heard a single joke from them. Everyone on the staff has an impressive resume from Upright Citizens Brigade to Colbert Report to The Onion and of course, SNL. Namely, executive producer Mike Shoemaker (aka Shoe, aka former Jimmy Fallon & SNL producer aka guys who is friends with all the people I want to be friends with) Alex Baze (Weekend Update, Jimmy Fallon and now Head Writer for Seth), and John Lutz (from 30 Rock’s Lutz). Well played, Seth Meyers. Well played.

A+ Guests

The first week alone, Seth’s got some pretty solid guests. It’s very ‘Late Night worthy’ if that makes any sense. So there’s Kanye, writer Robyn Doolittle (Toronto Star reporter who wrote a bio about Rob Ford – see, politics, current events, etc.) Lena Dunham, Anthony Mackie (who is like Will Smith 2.0 in interviews), Kelly Ripa, John Mayer Trio (The Trio is back!), and Sir Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart together!

But the guests I’m most excited about? His very first guest – Amy Poehler.

(If you’re new to this blog please refer to this post, this post and this post for our thoughts on Poehler) These two are best buds from back in the day, even before they co-anchored Weekend Update. Anytime they’re together, it’s like watching besties hang out and I cannot WAIT until he interviews her. Wouldn’t you want one of your closest friends to help you out on the first night of the biggest job in your life?

But wait – it gets better. The second guest on his show? VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES JOE BIDEN.

I CANNOT EVEN DEAL WITH THIS AMAZINGNESS. It’s Leslie Knope’s dream come true and it’s all happening IRL with Amy being on her BFF’s new talk show. Too much to handle, brain is already exploding.

In short, you should probably watch Late Night with Seth Meyers, because it’s gonna be good. If you don’t like it, wait a week and come back to me. If you don’t like it after that – we can’t be friends.

Good luck Seth! We’re rooting for you!!