Skip to Content

Rec Room: William Brewer: Jim Henson’s “Monsterpiece Theater”

August 20, 2010

Bookmark and Share

By **William Brewer**

In a brief bout of nostalgia, I recently began to re-watch episodes of Jim Henson’s sorely underrated, hippy-dippy 80’s children’s show Fraggle Rock. Realizing that this year marks the 20th anniversary of Jim’s death, I am reminded of his many contributions to American popular culture, including some of the most hilarious literary satire I’ve ever encountered, in Sesame Street’s “Monsterpiece Theatre.” “Monsterpiece Theater” was a long-running segment that included a Cookie Monster version of retro PBS host Alistair Cooke (or Alistair Cookie) as he re-imagines literary classics for children. One segment in particular is especially amusing to me—a parody of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot re-named “Waiting for Elmo.”

This sketch wonderfully cuts through the pretension of Beckett’s existential masterpiece as only a Sesame Street episode could possibly do. A part that made me laugh out loud comes when Alistair Cookie introduces the play as “so modern and so brilliant that it makes absolutely no sense… to anybody!”

value=""> name="allowFullScreen" value="true"> name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"> src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385">

This odd, idiosyncratic series of sketches is extraordinarily funny, and the artistic references range from Shakespeare to David Lynch. At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, I feel that this segment is especially relevant in addressing a new generation of waning interest in literature by serving as an introduction to some lovely and timeless works! It remains a prime example of Henson’s unique ability to bridge sophistication with elementary education, and he will always remain a symbol of profound benevolence for me. If you can spare the time, I also recommend “The 400 Blows” and “The Old Man & The C.”

William Brewer is an editorial intern at Guernica. Read his last post “here”:

To read more blog entries from GUERNICA click HERE .


Readers like you make Guernica possible. Please show your support.

Tagged with:

Leave a comment

Anti-Spam Quiz:

Subscribe without commenting