Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mr. Noodle: Master Thespian

Just yesterday, I wondered if the people who appear in Sesame Street Live are ever taken seriously as actors. Mere hours after I posted that, Jay and I were watching The Lady in the Water. You know, the latest movie from M. Night Shama-lama-lama-lama (I can never remember when to end his name). Toward the end of the movie, I just knew that one of the minor characters looked familiar, but I couldn't place him. Then it hit me.

"That's not ... MR. NOODLE ... is it?"

For those of you who haven’t watched Sesame Street in the past few years, Mr. Noodle is a silent, clown-like character who lives behind Elmo’s window shade:

Each day, Elmo’s goldfish, Dorothy, asks an important question, such as, “What do you see when you look up in the sky?”

“Good question, Dorothy,” Elmo always says. “Let’s ask Mr. Noodle!”

Elmo then pulls up the window shade to reveal Mr. Noodle, who does something wildly inappropriate to answer the question, such as riding around on a little toy car.

“No, Mr. Noodle!” Elmo will shout, as though Mr. Noodle is a complete moron. “A car isn't in the sky!”

Elmo continues to correct Mr. Noodle until he finally answers the question to the fish’s satisfaction. I always wonder how long Mr. Noodle is going to put up with this emotional abuse from a puppet. I've actually heard from other parents who say they have to turn away from the TV when Mr. Noodle is on, lest they witness his further humiliation.

Anyway, Jay and I spent the rest of the movie trying to decide if that actor was, indeed, Mr. Noodle. Given how boring the rest of the movie was, it was a nice diversion. (A quick aside: What happened, Mr. Shama-lama-lama? We just loved Signs.) Anyway, a quick trip to The Internet Movie Database revealed that, yes, the actor was indeed Mr. Noodle. His real name is Bill Irwin. He's performed Checkhov on Broadway and won a Tony in 2005 for his portrayal of George in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Who knew? I was shocked. Shocked.

While researching Mr. Noodle online, I learned another shocking -- and really sad -- fact. Sometimes Elmo will lift the window shade to reveal a different Mr. Noodle. We are told this is Mr. Noodle's brother, Mr. Noodle. It turns out that The Other Mr. Noodle has, in fact, been dead since 2003. (Once again: Shocked. Shocked!) His name was Michael Jeter, and he was also a Tony-Award-winning actor.

There's so little we know about the Mr. Noodles. It really makes you think ... mostly about the fact that I need to get out more. At least it gets you thinking, though.


Karen's sister said...

We L-O-V-E the Noodle family! We looked him up a few weeks back too, and were shocked to find that he is not only an accomplished actor, but also a graduate of Clown College, and an inductee into the Clown Hall of Fame. I'm glad you're helping to spread the word. We're thinking of dressing Liz up as Elmo and going as the Noodle family for Halloween.

While we're on the subject - did you know that Kevin Clash, the voice of Elmo, came out with an autobiography last September? We have it on hold at the library, so I haven't read it yet. But it looks pretty good.

Karen's sis-in-law from SD said...

Okay, wasn't Mr. Noodle also on a couple episodes of the Cosby show? I think it was Rudy's birthday and Cliff took Rudy and her friends to see a clown act. I think he had a big trunk he pretended to walk down stairs into....? Didn't you just love Rudy's little rolly polly friend who didn't say much and ran out of the house when he got a little scared?

John Wagner said...

I am sitting here at work catching up on your blog from the last week. I have laughed out loud several times causing fellow co-workers in cubical land to wonder what I am up to this time. You raised my spirits when I needed it, thanks!
By the way, my youngest brother was on Broadway with Michael Jeter in Grand Hotel, the musical for which Michael won the Tony Award - three degrees of separation.

Gina said...

Dear Cancer Girl:
I found your site through BETH b/c my mom has MM...
I visit your site b/c I love the way you write - and I'm a SAHM and relate to it ALL.
Look out Vicki Iovine... You are awesome!
Keep up the good work (writing), the hard work (parenting), and the moving forward (beyond myeloma).

Chveya said...

My daughter loves Elmo and is terrified of Mr. Noodle, it is rather sad, and I am also sad to hear that Mr. Noodle's brother Mr. Noodle is dead. too bad!

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend is smoking crack. She still doesnt think its him.

Anonymous said...

^ haha?