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Alphabet Chat

Discussion in 'Classic Sesame Street' started by mupcollector1, Nov 14, 2012.

  1. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    I was wondering how many Alphabet Chat sketches were there? Those always cracked me up. Jerry Nelson performs this host in this mansion study next to a fireplace and a comfy chair about to talk about a letter and through out a whole bunch of Muppets that are unrelated to the letter come an interrupt everything and it just goes to the point where the production team strikes the set and ends the show and Jerry's character is just raging. lol Defiantly one of my all time favorite Sesame sketches.
    Muppet fan 123 likes this.
  2. cjd874

    cjd874 Well-Known Member

    Well there weren't many...I have found a few on Youtube for the letters R, O, and B, but I have heard that there are others (I think 5 were made from 1974-1994).
    And the host's name was Mr. Chatterly...
    The best one in my opinion is the letter R skit because Guy Smiley & Gladys the Cow make cameos! (always a big plus) Plus Jerry's coming up with Random R words to Reiterate his Rage. Riotous, Really.
  3. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    LOL I love Richard Hunt's Brooklyn accent. Jerry Nelson's character: "Hand me the hammer will ya?" Richard Hunt's Character: "I don't know what to do with it though" lol

    I really miss how Sesame used to be with the classic irreverent Muppet humor and wackiness. lol To me that's what The Muppets were about :) I sure miss all those original Muppeteers. Jim, Jerry, Richard, and Frank. Good Times :)

    This one is probably my favorite.
  4. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I was hoping that one of these would appear on Old School Volume 3 (maybe one will be on volume 4, though it'd likely be one of the later ones which aren't as good).

    I've seen four of the five known segments, and I prefer the earlier ones, which show backstage action (including a crew starting the show). Later ones which only show the show and no backstage crew aren't as good. Interestingly, in the early ones, Mr. Chatterly has a pipe, but unlike Alistair Cookie's pipe, his seems to actually have smoke come out of it, while Cookie's seems to only be used for show (and to eat).

    It's interesting how there seems to be only a few, and yet the majority of them are spread out in production and broadcast. It seems there's quite a few other recurring segments that were few and far between. Other examples include Here is Your Life and Beat the Time (though I think the first two were made in season four, the rest have longer gaps). I think Monsterpiece Theater also started out as a series of segments that came once every year if not every few years until a lot more were made closer together, and it seems like new Adventures of Super-Grover segments started out having many made at once but then the segments came at a fewer-and-farhter-between rate after a few seasons. But it's still baffling that some recurring segments with only a few installments had such long multi-season gaps, as opposed to all of them being made in one or maybe two seasons and then being dropped (I'm pretty confident that all the Leslie Mostly Show and Miami Mice segments were made in one season, but I could be wrong). Then again, maybe some of these recurring segments were originally intended to be one-shot sketches that spawned follow ups years later, maybe when the writers had ideas for more.
  5. cjd874

    cjd874 Well-Known Member

    I'd like to find the one with Cookie Monster interrupting Mr. Chatterly's show. That seems to be a very hard sketch to find.
    Mupcollector1, I agree with you. From what I've seen of the classic SS vs. modern SS, the classic material is definitely more irreverent & edgy.
    And I wish Jim, Richard & Jerry were still here. Frank doesn't appear very often, and he, Fran Brill & Caroll Spinney are the only original SS Muppeteers alive. They all contributed so much & were all brilliant performers during the show's peak era.
  6. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Yeah, totally. It's like the current Sesame is more careful and safer with it's humor. I heard that one of the reasons of the change was that classic episodes were re-tested with a more current test audience and they didn't test well for several reasons and that might explain why classic episodes are no longer re-ran on tv (specifically Noggin). But yeah personally, I only watch classic Sesame 70s and 80s and early 90s.

    I totally remember Monsterpiece Theater and Miami Mice (I think there was just Kermit and Ernie and that was the only ones they made). Monsterpiece had so many good sketches. The one where Grover walked a long set of stairs and ending up next to a brick wall then riding down the railing and falling onto Cookie's floor. lol The Gone with the Wind parody with Kermit (good thing Piggy doesn't watch her Kermie on Sesame, otherwise she'd probably ask Kermit who that female frog was next to him. lol). I remember the pig on the chandelier swinging in and out of frame. lol What was the last Monsterpiece theater? Was it Twin Beaks?

    Anyway back to Alphabet Chat. Isn't Jerry and Richard great singing the theme? I love it.

    Yeah I totally see what you mean. It's not as funny as the others. The ending is cute but it's not as spontaneous and engergetic wacky and zanny as the other one. I think the B one is probably from 1992 or 1991 or so. David Rudeman and Marty Robinson's voice I recognized. Though at first I thought the stagehand was Jim but it was way to high pitched to be Jim. lol

    Also what's great about the 1970s is Jim, Frank and Richard and have a whole bunch of characters coming in and out of frame, but it's just great how they manage to perform so many characters within such a short sketch. There's NO tape edit so I imagion they have Muppet tables where they just run of and grab the next puppet and of course there must have been several rehearsals to manage to do something that complicated. Only if Sesame blooper reels from Jim's time still existed, I'm sure any mistake made the Muppeteers would goof around and probably play the existing playback footage at parties or wrap parties or something. I've always admired that about Jim and his team, they had fun on the set and were allowed to goof around. Sometimes little adlibs end up in the final recording. lol But yeah the 1970s Alphabet Chats are defiantly some of the most funniest sketches from SS in my opinion as well as some of my all time favorites.

    So none of these are on the Old School DVD sets? How about the iTunes downloads? I know Sesame Workshop released episodes that aren't on DVD on iTunes. Only if complete boxsets of Sesame was released but I'm sure they'd be even more expensive then a SNL boxset since it's a daily show. Though I wished they released sets like complete Muppet sketches from such a year, animated segments. Kind of like what Disney Treasures did, sort of but not being limited edition. That would be cool. But not so much separated by character but complete Muppet sketches from 1974 for example.
    minor muppetz likes this.
  7. cjd874

    cjd874 Well-Known Member

    Exactly. Yesterday's SS is not politically correct enough for today's children. Kids' TV these days is like a babysitter while the parents are away at work or watching their own shows on Lifetime or ESPN. (ugh) It's funny, Mupcollector1...I grew up watching the Around the Corner era of SS, but I prefer Old School SS. Nothing wrong with that, though, just kinda amusing...

    For the Grover skit...it's the 39 Stairs (parody of Alfred Hitchcock's 39 Steps)...I ROFL'd at that skit when I was a young kid, especially when Grover slid down the banister and crashed into Alistar Cookie's room.
    "You okay?" "I do not know." "SHHH...me still on camera." HAHAHA!
    And the last Monsterpiece skit I know of is the Horse Whisperer...late 1990s

    Ah yes, Jerry & Richard...the Two Headed Monster, Biff and Sully, Floyd and Janice, Pa Gorg & Junior...reunited at last after 20 years. RIP to the best singers of Jim's company.

    Man, there aren't enough good things to say about Frank, Jim, Jerry, & Richard. They were all so great back in the day. Such amazing chemistry...and hilarious ad-libs too. Check out Sesame Workshop's video of Cookie Monster at the library. They have an extended adlib at the end: "Book about cookies and a glass of juice? Hey, you got carrots? How about RUTABAGA??? Cantaloupe?"

    It's bad enough that it took so long for Old School 3 to be released, but nothing else seems to be in discussion. What about a DVD set involving the Hawaii trip? Or the New Mexico one? Alas, I think there are so many rights issues that there's a slim to none chance of this happening.
  8. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    lol I remember the sketch well. Richard Hunt is really funny in this. lol Frank too as Cookie. I don't think I've ever seen the ending piece there. If you listen closely, someone is laughing, probably Jim or someone telling Frank to cut. lol

    I remember reading that the theme song is edited out of the episodes probably because the family or company of Joe Raposo owns the rights or something like that. I think I read that on a ToughPigs review article. But yeah, I can't wait to get that DVD. I have one and two myself. I kind of struggled with cash this month, long story short switching to another phone company after being charge ridiculous amounts for minutes. So as soon as I had about $25.00, I went online to buy Jim's Red Book on Amazon. I love it, great book. Though I do wish that the Old School DVDs were more complete though. Like Sesame Street Spoofs, kind of like 'the best of' but they cut endings of sketches way too quickly like "Born to Add" and Miami Mice was suppose to be on there but where edited out last minute for unknown reasons. :\.
  9. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I doubt Twin Beaks was the last one. That's from season 22, and I'm pretty sure they continued making new Monsterpiece Theater segments during the late-1990s. Not sure if any debuted in 2000 or 2001. The last time a Monsterpiece Theater segment aired was in 2002, I think it was the "Guys and Dolls" segment from season 20.

    I know that during the early years, with so much tape needed to record the show, they often did segments in just one take, correcting or pointing out their own mistakes in the finished segment (like in the waiter Grover "alphabet soup" segment Mr. Johnson accidently says his soup is missing a Y when it's missing a J, Grover asks if he's sure, and the two briefly converse about him being wrong. In another, Bob accidently refers to Grover as "different", then points out "you're name's not different, you're name's Grover!", though I feel I wouldn't have noticed the mistake if he didn't foolishy point it out like that). Early street scenes didn't have full scripts, just outlines and certain dialogue, allowing them to improvise on the basic ideas of the scenes. While many of the Ernie and Bert skits had scripts, Jim and Frank usually just improvised their dialogue after looking over the scripts, highlighting any important punchlines.

    Not sure if Alphabet Chat is in any of the iTunes episodes, but a few of them are on sesamestreet.org.
  10. mupcollector1

    mupcollector1 Well-Known Member

    Thanks very interesting.

    For some reason, this sketch came to my mind. At the end the picture frame falls off the wall and Bert reacts in fear. lol
  11. cjd874

    cjd874 Well-Known Member

    I think "The Horse Whisperer" is one of the last Monsterpiece skits...probably 1997 or 1998, when Frank was still a regular performer on SS.
  12. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    How does one determine when Frank stopped being a "regular performer" on the show? He began directing movies in the 1980s which had already limited his schedule (he points this out in 1989's An Evening with Jim Henson and Frank Oz), and the 1998 book Sesame Street Unpaved mentions that at the time Frank was performing four days a year, getting in around 15 new segments with his characters on those days. And now he only comes to the set one day per year.
  13. cjd874

    cjd874 Well-Known Member

    For me, I believe he stopped being a regular performer in the mid-1990's...I mean, after Jim died, most of Frank's characters returned to SS, mainly Grover and Cookie Monster, and occasionally Bert. In the late 1990s, Eric Jacobson took over Bert and Grover while Frank did other projects, and David Rudman began performing Cookie. Then Frank left the Jim Henson Company in 2002 (I think) and stopped performing his MS characters...but for some reason he chose to make a few appearances as Bert and Grover...did he ever officially leave Sesame Workshop?
  14. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I wonder if Frank's characters really did start to get recast in 1997 like it says on Muppet Wiki (regarding Eric's characters). I first heard about the occasional recasts (which have become more frequent, in a way Frank's performances could be seen as occasional now) in 2001. Of course I first read about Matt Vogel being the understudy for Big Bird around the same time, and the 40th anniversary book (not to mention a number of interviews) state that he began as Big Bird's understudy in 1996, while his earliest-known vocal performance (on the show itself) was a season 30 episode (where Vogel and Spinney actually alternated the role in the same street story). Though I know that the original purpose for Caroll Spin ney having an understudy was because Sesame Workshop wanted Big Bird to make more live appearances than Spinney wanted to (I wonder if any of these were televised), and they didn't want Big Bird to be silent.

    But I haven't read anything official that cites Eric Jacobson performing Bert and Grover earlier than 2001*. Maybe he performed while Frank dubbed the voices, or maybe he was just practicing as the characters then, maybe even doing them in non-speaking appearances. I recently read that in 1999's "CinderElmo", Frank dubbed most/all of his characters lines, with Steve Whitmire and Kevin Clash alternating as Grover (not sure who performed the other characters). It's a wonder Eric didn't perform them in that (was Eric credited for that special?).

    Of course the recasts of Big Bird and Frank's characters happened rather quietly, and of course the recasts are awesome (well, Eric's Miss Piggy started out not as good but has improved over time). So I guess there could have been earlier performances that slipped past our radar (or that we just don't remember seeing).

    *Actually I read that Eric Jacobson performed Grover in the "ding-a-long" episode from season 30. I remember seeing that episode, and for years I had thought that Grover was silent in that episode, only talking when he was singing along with the others (in other words he didn't have any lines of his own). I brought this up on the talk page and somebody who had the episode mentioned that he did talk. I wonder if it was brief enough for me to miss it the first time I saw it.

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