There’s going to be a Game of Thrones parody on Sesame Street! Not only that, but look for upcoming episodes of the long-running educational series to spoof both next year’s Age of Ultron and House of Cards, according to cast members for the series during their Comic-Con panel.
Moderator Chris Hardwick was joined by Sesame Street executive producer Carol-Lynn Parente, puppeteer Eric Jacobson (Grover), Joey Mazzarino (Sesame Street writer and director and Murray Monster puppeteer), and David Rudman (Cookie Monster).
While we didn’t get any additional details on the upcoming spoofs, Mazzarino said that he was nervous about saying anything more since there was usually an angry executive nearby to talk to him if he and his fellow cast members say too much about upcoming episodes.
The program kicked off with a special, Con-themed episode of Sesame Street – well, “Numeri Con,” at least, as the various Muppets of Sesame Street dressed up in comic and pop culture-themed costumes. Elmo, as the Dark Nine, was joined by “Princess Three-a,” “The Fabulous Four,” “Fiverine” (don’t worry, his claws are Crayons), Grover as Six Fury (he leads the Sevengers, naturally), “The Caped Crus-Eighter,” “The Green Lan-ten,” and of course, The Count.
Then we learned all about using “The Four” as Cookie Monster took a Star Wars journey to learn all about self-control and not eating his new, cookie-based friend.
“This is the most amazing panel,” Chris said after being hugged by Cookie Monster (and his puppeteer), saying that even after moderating panels for Marvel, Warner Bros., and our own Nerdist, this was the highlight of his Comic-Con.
Chris directed a couple of questions to the muppets themselves, asking Grover how he maintained his positivity. Grover explained that he was just born that way, and that you just have to try and try (and sometimes you fail). And when things get too hard, he just thinks about his Mommy and how proud of him she would be.
Jacobson, who’s been with Sesame Street for over 20 years, said that he was in film school when Muppets creator Jim Henson passed away, and that he had to do something to continue the man’s legacy, having grown up a fan of the master puppeteer and filmmaker’s work. “It’s a huge honor to be continuing this legacy,” Jacobson said, tipping his hat to Grover creator Frank Oz.
Mazzarino, who directed the Con-themed episode, was in improv at Fordham when he met a puppeteer who pushed him to check out what was going on at the show. At the time, Henson was still alive, and he met some of the original team, ultimately joining the cast after meeting Sesame Street luminaries like the late Richard Hunt.
Murray Monster says he’s just a people person (“A people monster,” Chris added), and that he loves going out into the public and talking to strangers on camera. He also said he’d love to travel to other cities outside of New York for their interview pieces, adding that none of the kids being interviewed are coached.
When Chris asked what Cookie Monster would do if there were no cookies left in the universe, what kind of monster he would be, Cookie replied that he’d either become the Brussel Sprout Monster or just lose interest in food.
When asked by a fan (with his own puppet) what kinds of stories inspired the muppets on-stage, Grover says he was inspired Superman; Mazzarino says that he’s inspired by a 10-year-old kid with his own YouTube puppet show called The Moe Show, while Cookie Monster is inspired by food-themed movies like “Les Mousse-erables,” and “The Biscotti Kid.”
When it comes to deeper or “more difficult” topics as Mazzarino describes them, the Sesame Street writer explained that topics like military families and other challenging subjects were described by a separate group, but that the show would continue its tradition of not shying away from them.
A younger fan asked where Elmo was and Murray Monster says that when he’s out on the street, he’s often called “Fat Elmo” (which makes him feel bad in two different ways).
Finally, one audience member wanted to know how the Sesame Street cast and producer felt about being used as a political hot potato – with some Presidential hopefuls perhaps threatening to fire Big Bird. Parente says that they’re simply proud of being a PBS show that’s not ad-supported and there to teach kids (and that they’ve been very busy over the last couple of years).