Saving: Brought To You By the Letter ‘S’

By Paul Solman

How to get us to save, the importance of self-control. Weighty issues deserving of discussion in the light of last Friday’s visit to Sesame Street. But what America wants to know, I’m guessing: What’s it like to interview Grover? (Not the tax-axing Norquist, of course, but the non-political blue blur of fur whose first name alone suffices, in the manner of Madonna, Bono, or Snuffleupagus.)

First fact: The interviewer must position himself above the duo that compromise the schtick figure, since Grover is animated from below and must be shot solo, lest the illusion of independence be shattered.

Second: Camera crews are obliged to hook up the video feed to a TV set, so that Gover’s lower half can watch the shooting as it happens, and reposition himself off-screen should and error occur. We had to reshoot one sequence when the brains of the operation bobbed up briefly into view.

Third: The master beneath the Muppet, Eric Jacobson, is only the second Grover in the 42-year history of the Street. The first: the legendary Frank Oz.

Fourth: No surprise, but Jacobson is one quick study, adapting quickly to questions that were in no way pre-arranged. Indeed, when we sprang the marshmellow test on the plucky pair, we knew that the sugar puffs were hardly PBS children’s fare. But the Blue Boy and his chaperone remained in character, and were graciously accommodating.
Fifth: Though I’ve watched Grover on TV for decades, he proved no more intimidating in person than any other famous interviewee, and in fact, seemed surprisingly unaffected by his celebrity.

Finally, sixth: He’s a regular Dorian Grey, that Grover. Now 42 years old, it’s simply amazing how little he’s aged. Or slowed down.

Video produced by Elizabeth Shell.

Note: For more on the Sesame Street savings program “For Me, For You, For Later,” click here: