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.