1 The Muppet Mindset: Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Herry Monster

Mar 3, 2010

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Herry Monster

Please welcome good friend of the blog Michael Wermuth, Jr. as he brings us yet another guest Weekly Muppet Wednesday article!

HERRY MONSTER

Performed by...
Jerry Nelson

First Appearance...
Sesame Street Season 2: Episode 131 (1970)

Most Recent Appearance...
Sesame Street Season 40 Episode 4206 (2009)

Memorable Quotes...
“Monsters? Where monsters? You see monsters?” (Follow That Bird)

“And now, the song that asks the musical question… Fuzzy and Blue?” (Monster Hits!)

“Good morning, weights. I’ve been waiting to lift ya.”

“Here comes ol’ Herry, looking for the triangle.”

“You’re very good at saying the alphabet, Grover… But you’re lousy at keeping secrets!”

Best Friends...
In a season 31 episode, Herry helped Rosita find herself a best friend, before the two decided to become best friends themselves. Unfortunately, this was around the time Herry was being phased out, and the two weren’t seen together very much afterwards.

The book Sesame Street Unpaved lists Grover as Herry’s best friend, and this seems more logical. There were many sketches featuring the two, including a season two sketch where Grover helped Herry find a triangle, and an early sketch in which Herry tells Grover a secret (which is actually the alphabet). The two also starred in two Monsterpeice Theater sketches together, “Chariots of Fur” and “ABCD Blue”.

Cookie Monster could also be an honorary best friend. The two have sung quite a few songs together, including “Circles” and “Up and Down”.

WHO IS HERRY MONSTER?
Herry Monster is a furry blue monster who is really strong but doesn’t know his own strength. Though strong, he is also quite tender. In some sketches, he appears to be scary to certain characters, when he really had other intentions (for example: In one sketch, Farley was scared of him, but Herry just wanted to see if Farely wanted to play with dolls). Many of his early sketches seemed to include him as an ending punchline character. One example is in the “First and Last” song, when the kid who’s always first ends up being first to a package, which had Herry Monster inside. Or the aforementioned Farley sketch, in which Farely hears somebody knocking at the door, and speculates who it could be, before it ends up being Herry.

In season 30 Herry starred in a recurring segment called “Monsters in Day Care”, in which he visited real-life kids at day care and then went to his own day care/clubhouse (perhaps a precursor to Monster Clubhouse?) to tell his friends what he learned.

He has also participated in many of Prairie Dawn’s pageants, including “A Flower Grows”, “The Four Seasons”, and “Foods We Eat”. He also portrayed the role of a butterfly in a non-Prairie Dawn pageant about butterflies.

Though Herry likes being strong, he also likes dolls. His favorite doll appears to be a doll named Hercules, who resembles one of the monsters from “Where the Wild Things Are” (the same one Doglion resembles).

CHARACTER EVOLUTION
Herry went through a few design changes over the years. Originally he had a furry blue nose, but sometime during the second season it switched to smooth and blue. Then by the third season it became purple. Later on his fur would become shaggier and his nose would get a little bit smaller. In illustrations and merchandise he normally wears white and pink stripped pants, while in the rare instances that his legs are shown on the show itself he’s usually depicted as naked like any other Sesame Street monster.

HERRY MONSTER SONGS
  • “Circles” with Cookie Monster 
  • “Up and Down” with Cookie Monster 
  • “Mmmmonster Meal” with Cookie Monster 
  • “I Can’t Help It” 
  • “That Furry Blue Mommy of Mine” 
  • “Fuzzy and Blue (And Orange)” with Grover, Cookie Monster, and Frazzle 
  • “Two Heads are Better Than One” with the Two-Headed Monster 
  • “Herry’s Family Song” with his family 
  • “Sad, Sad, Sad” 
  • “Good Morning, Morning” 
  • “Guys and Dolls” with Ruby Monster
  •  “Three” with Prairie Dawn and Elmo 
  • “I Can Sing When You Sing” with Louise
  •  “Big Round Nose”
HERRY MONSTER MOMENTS
Some of Herry’s most memorable moments are his interactions with John-John, talking about such concepts as “up and down”, “loud and soft”, and the letter Q. But their best-known insert together is probably the one where the two count to 20. In “Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting”, the two are reunited, and they once again count to 20 (though they start at 16).

Herry was once a contestant on Guy Smiley’s game show “The Addition Game”. In that sketch he was asked a series of mathematical questions, but had trouble with the last question (“3+1=?”), and afterwards brought three cars plus one into the studio to see if Guy Smiley was right.

Another great moment for Herry was the time when Kermit x-rayed him to demonstrate what was inside the body.

Herry also appeared in a handful of Monsterpiece Theater segments. In addition to the aforementioned sketches co-starring Grover, he had the lead role in “Guys and Dolls”, and wa sin the background for “Anyone’s Nose”.

WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED HERRY MONSTER?
Sesame Street has plenty of great monster characters, and the best of the best tend to be the blue ones. In my opinion, Herry, Cookie Monster, and Grover are the three main blue monsters (sorry, Rosita). Like Telly Monster, he is terribly underrated. Back in my days he was just as major in street stories as he was in inserts, while Grover and Cookie Monster were pretty much only used in inserts, but outside of the show, in specials and such, those two were used heavily while Herry had smaller parts (if he appeared at all). 

Herry only appeared in a handful of Sesame Street Live shows during the 1980s, I’m pretty sure there was never a Herry Monster walk-around at Sesame Place (but then again, I’ve never been there), and I never saw any Herry Monster toys as a child. I know that there were toys, most of which came out in the 1970s, long before I was born, and at a time when it was also common to see toys of such lesser characters as Sherlock Hemlock and Lefty the Salesman. Additionally, there were never any “Best of Herry Monster” videos or albums (I know, Telly, Zoe, Rosita, Baby Bear, Prairie Dawn, and Snuffy haven’t gotten that kind of treatment, either). Herry did have big roles in many books, starring in many of them.

Herry was a major character on Sesame Street until around season 32. At this point Frank Oz’s characters were given alternate performers, which meant that Cookie Monster and Grover could once again be heavily featured in street stories, and Herry seemed to be phased out of the show, being limited to background cameos and appearing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with the Sesame Street cast every year. Old segments starring Herry (mostly ones from the 1990s) can occasionally be seen in current episodes.

Still, he was a great character from the early days who continued to be major for three full decades. He is legendary. Jerry Nelson may not be performing anymore, but he has been providing the voices for his characters, including lesser characters like Fred the Wonder Horse. In my opinion Herry was Jerry Nelson’s number two major character, behind The Count. I don’t know if Jerry Nelson has trouble with the voice these days or what, but if he can’t do the voice anymore then maybe Matt Vogel (who’s been performing many Jerry Nelson characters in the past years) can.







 

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier

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