Jan 8, 2014

Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Herbert Birdsfoot

Today's post was written by Mike Baldasare.

HERBERT BIRDSFOOT

Performed by...
Jerry Nelson

First appearance...
Sesame Street Episode 0132 (1970)

Most recent appearance...
Sesame Street Season 5 (1973-1974)
The Muppet Movie finale

Best known role...
Lecturer whose assistant is usually Grover, brief replacement of Kermit the Frog, good friend of Ernie, Bert and Big Bird

WHO IS HERBERT BIRDSFOOT?

Herbert Birdsfoot first appeared during Season 2 of Sesame Street  as a lecturer, usually with his hapless assistant Grover by his side. Herbert Birdsfoot briefly replaced Kermit the Frog as the main lecturer on Sesame Street. But when Kermit returned later in Season 2, Herbert became less active but would continue to appear on the show until 1974.

In his first appearance on Episode 0132, Herbert invented a complicated machine to test Cookie Monster's problem-solving abilities. In the sketch, Herbert needed Cookie Monster to pull the string to raise the glass cover off the plateful of cookies at the other end, but when he let go to retrieve the cookies, the cover would fall again.

When Herbert appeared to demonstrate subjects such as "over and under," counting blocks, rhyming, and shadows, Grover was always his assistant. Herbert also interacted with Big Bird in a sketch where Big Bird told him a story about letters in his nest. Herb also made a small-speaking cameo appearance in a sketch where Ernie wanted to borrow a vacuum cleaner from him.

Though he was less active on the show, Herbert was very prominent in many Sesame Street album appearances during the early 1970's. He sang "High, Middle, Low" with Ernie and Bert and read stories or poems such as "The Magic Cookie" and "The Tale of Tom Tattertall Tuttlehut." In the audio skit "Big Bird Writes a Poem", Herbert helped Big Bird to come up with a line at the end of the poem that rhymed with "muscle than a bus." He also appeared in some Sesame Street books in the 1970's and the early 1980's. Herbert's most recent illustrated appearance was in the 1987 book "Bounce Along with Big Bird."

WHY DOES SESAME STREET NEED HERBERT BIRDSFOOT?
Herbert Birdsfoot may be a boring character to today's kids but we still consider him a fan-favorite character. But Kermit was so great at giving out lectures before Herbert, it became clear he wasn't too necessary. Despite all that, Herbert Birdsfoot remains a great example of an early Jerry Nelson classic character.







The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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