Brought To You By The Letters P, B And S

Update: New Lofi comic for 10/8/12! 

PBS is great. Sesame Street is particularly great. As the parent of the young child, I can’t even explain the profound impact that show has had on my daughter and her development. She learned numbers, letters, social concepts like sharing, courtesy, apologizing, honesty, etc. all while being engaged and entertained. Of course my wife and I proactively taught her those subjects and concepts as well, but just think about how much more relatable they were and how much more easily a 2 year old could understand them when we were able to say “You have to share. Remember how Elmo felt when his friend didn’t share?” Sesame Street is not just a TV show. It’s an institution and  an invaluable national resource.

I know Sesame Street, and particularly Big Bird, are the topics being thrown around the media right now, but I can say with 100% certainly that PBS produces the highest quality children’s programming available and THE ONLY children’s programming that consistently entertains and educates my exceptionally bright child. I’ll give you two examples out of the dozens that come to mind. Curious George is focused on problem solving through experimentation and doing. After she watched an episode, she often disappears into her room or our craft area and emerges 30 minutes later with a contraption based on whichever episode she just watched. “Look! I built an automatic kitty feeder just like George!”

Her favorite show right now is Word Girl. It’s about a superhero that uses her vocabulary to defeat villains. In addition to having above average writing for a kids’ show, it is also voice acted by some of the top comedians in the country (Maria Bamford, Patton Oswalt, Brian Posehn, Chris Parnell, etc.) Last week, after watching an episode of Word Girl, she ran into the kitchen, grabbed a pencil and some paper and started writing a play. She wrote pages of lines for each character, assigned my wife and I parts and we sat down as a family and had a table read before bedtime. It was, in a word, adorbs. But more so, she was exercising her creativity because she was inspired by what she had seen on PBS.

Watching these shows makes her brain move in new directions instead of just keeping it subdued for 30 minutes while we cook dinner. Anyone that looks at the minuscule government subsidy that PBS gets and doesn’t see the value (or doesn’t even understand how much it is) probably didn’t watch enough PBS.

COMMENTERS: Any particular memories of Sesame Street as a child or a parent? 

NOTICE TO COMMENTERS: PLEASE do not use this as a forum to preach your politics. I don’t want to know who you’re going to vote for or why. I don’t want to know what you think about the President or the opposition. This site is where I make comics based on my personal opinions. If you want a place to yell opinions at the Internet, go elsewhere.  This spot is already taken. If you chose to ignore this request, your comments will be deleted and you will be banned from commenting. 

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. You should check out "Written by a Kid" on Felicia Day's Geek and Sundry Youtube channel. I wouldn't be surprised if all of the kids in that show watched Sesame Street.

  2. I loved Sesame Street when I was a kid ("Sesame Park," the lame-ass Canadian version with which it was eventurally replaced here, sucked eggs).

    If you're interested in reading a great history of the show, the book "Street Gang" by Michael Davis is excellent.

  3. I always loved the Count. I loved numbersI always loved the Count. I loved numbers, he loved numbers. And he always seemed to be vaguely pissing off the other members of Sesame Street with his incessant counting – something I knew about all too well.

    I'm looking forward to having children JUST so I can sit around and watch Sesame Street with them.

    • "I'm looking forward to having children JUST so I can sit around and watch Sesame Street with them."

      I will warn you of this one thing. Despite having 30 some odd years of history to choose from, PBS only airs the same 15 or so episodes over and over in a given season. They almost NEVER air reruns from previous seasons. You will do good to supplement the live broadcasts with DVD's (of which there are hundreds) lest your parent brain go all pear shaped.

  4. The first time I had pumpernickle bread was beacuse I saw Erine get it at the store. I made my mom get a small, rectangle, wrapped in platstic loaf, all beacuse Erine liked it. Also, if I may, how about a shout out for The Electric Company.

    • I didn't watch the Electric company as a kid, but my daughter plays the games on and loves them. They're pretty cool tool. Bar graphs and fractions and such on a level that a 5 year old can get into.

      • Get it on DVD for Easy Reader and the Adventures of Spiderman! I was surprised how well it has held up after all these years.

  5. SO many fond memories of Sesame Street!! I grew up on the show and still love it. I definitely still go looking for clips of it on YouTube — that stuff's not just for wee tots! Grover and his antics have me laughing every time. I've seen some more current episodes too, but it just doesn't seem to have the same charm as classic Sesame Street. Then again, that's probably just the nostalgia talking.

  6. Sesame Street was a staple of my childhood… I could read by the age of three because if it. "Follow That Bird" was the first movie I ever saw in theaters, and it's still one of my favorites.

    What are the odds of seeing this as a print, Joel?

  7. I am a HUGE Muppet & PBS fan. Have been all my life. No plans to stop.

    I love how this is coming up right in the wake of the death of Muppeteer Jerry Nelson aka Count von Count. What a shame.

    Also, I always loved the short film "The King of 8."

    • I appreciated Jerry more as Gobo than The Count, but yes his passing is sad. I was surprised to learn that more original muppeteers had either died or retired than I thought. Rolf has been basically retired since Henson's death, and Steve Whitmire's Kirmit has gotten better with each movie (it was shaky at first), but I didn't know the Frank Oz gave up Piggy/Fozzie/et all almost a decade a ago. Dave Goelz is still Gonzo, and I believe the voice of Scooter passed away in the late 90's.

      • He did indeed. Richard Hunt was his name. He was also Junior Gorg on Fraggle Rock, which I actually got into my senior year of high school through reruns on the Hub after my folks took me and my sister to the traveling "World of Jim Henson" exhibit that was in Chicago at the time.

  8. Who didn't love Sesame Street? Even kids I knew who grew up in rural areas with 3 tv channels got to see it.
    When I was in grade 11, one of my classmates said he just saw an episode where other people could finally see Mr. Snuffleupagus. It was surprising how much "cool teenagers" cared about it, as we all started discussing our favourite Sesame moments.

    Even though I was only 2, I remember my parents telling me that a new tv show was starting called the Electric Company. It had Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno and Bill Cosby! Except for the Spiderman sketches I don't remember it as well as Sesame Street…perhaps because I didn't see repeats.

    A shout out for School House Rock! I have videos of the Science and Grammer Rock, they are excellent and I'm sure any current child would love them.

    One of the best Canadian Children's shows was Mr. Dressup, he had a "Tickle trunk' where he would pull out and create costumes. Mr. Dress Up would sing songs, tell stories, and show you how to make things, with his puppet sidekicks Casey (boy) and Finnegan(dog who never spoke). Mr. Dressup (Ernie Coombs) worked with Mr. Rogers on the first few years of Mr. Rogers Canadian tv show, which came before Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.

    • Mr. Dressup is fantastic. There's DVDs (we have a couple) and my 3-year-old loves them.

      I always, even as a kid, really disliked Mr. Rogers; he's always seemed very patronizing and condescending. Mr. Dressup isn't like that at all. He honestly and obviously loves kids, and he had a great show.

      I used to love The Friendly Giant as well, but to be honest, I don't think I can remember a single moment beyond the theme song now.

      • I didn't watch Mr. Rogers either, I'm not even sure that it was on the channels I received, or maybe it was on the same time as something else. My little sister watched it years later, but she preferred Mr. Dressup. Mr. Dressup did a concert tour back in the 70's, and my parents bought tickets, but I can't remember anything about it.

        Friendly Giant wasn't an exciting show, He would read stories and play the recorder.
        Rusty the Rooster's high pitched voice sticks in my head, Jerome the Giraffe had a dopey sounding voice. There were also some musical cat puppets.
        My favourite part was when the giant would pull out little chairs for the viewers. The theme song is an old traditional English tune, "Early One Morning".

  9. Don't get me wrong, Sesame Street and other PBS programming over the decades has been absolutely fantastic. Except the Letter People… Maybe that only aired in St Louis, but it freaked me out when I was a kid.

    If you want to save PBS, donate. Reduce their need for Federal Funding (especially when we have to borrow from other countries, like China to do so). There's a reason they put that "Made possible by viewers like you" schtick on everything they make, because they want you to donate to them. When we had a surplus and were paying off the debt, it made sense to give them Federal Funds… Now… Not so much (I blame ALL politicians for this, not just one party or president).

    Don't complain about Romney or Obama or anyone else when they talk about not funding PBS when you don't donate yourself. Oh, and IIRC donating to PBS is Tax Deductible… So… yeah… Bonus for you there.

    • That's the *other* stupid thing about what Romney said. PBS takes up less than 1% of the federal budget. And only a tiny fraction of Children's Workshop's income involves federal grants. So Romney "defunding" PBS would affect neither the budget deficit nor PBS.

      My children are autistic, and far prefer the stuff on Nick Jr. Which is nice, because "Yo Gabba Gabba!" gives us some of the best seemingly-drug-inspired children's entertainment since "H. R. Pufnstuf", particularly impressive when you remember that the man responsible is a devout Mormon, and won't even drink coffee, much less drop acid. (He's also the leader of the band The Aquabats.) And "Team Umizoomi" has given us an autistic, ADHD-driven six-year-old boy who can tell you the difference between a square, a rectangle, and a rhomboid. 🙂

      • Both of you are very close to completely ignoring the "PLEASE do not use this as a forum to preach your politics." rule for this thread.

        • Wasn't really trying to push my view, if it came off that way, I apologize. It probably would have been better if I left off the last part of the second paragraph.

          The main thing I was trying to point out, and PBS did a better job of this in their statement (, they currently raise $6 for ever $1 they receive in Federal Funding. What this says to me is that "Viewers Like [Us]" need to step up and Donate more, instead of asking the Federal Government to do it.

          Seriously, if everyone on the Interwebs that is complaining about how "Romney wants to kill Big Bird" shut up for the 30 seconds it would take them to go Donate $2 then PBS wouldn't be in any danger should it lose Federal Funding (and they'd be in a better position if they keep getting funding, so I believe this would be a win-win all around).

          Again, not trying to push my political opinion. Just saying people should *actually do something* instead of just whining on the interwebs.

          Donation Link:

          PS: Yes, I did put my money where my mouth is and made a $250 donation to the PBS Foundation (which is 125 times more than I'm suggesting everyone donate).

          • very glad to hear of your donation, however for many families in North America the 2 dollar donation would break the bank. have you seen that episode of flight of the concord where buying a coffee mug destroyed their budget and offset their bills? Too many people are in similar type positions. Having good educational television is nearly if not just as important as roads or fire stations or libraries.

    • I understand your attitude in practical terms, if encouraging people to donate is the only way it's going to get the funding it needs. But personal charity can't be a substitute for government funding, because most people just won't give enough to pay for the things that everyone needs. And the US can cut its budget deficit without crap like cutting PBS funding – there just isn't the political will to do it fairly and intelligently.

    • Sorry for this Joel. But jersian, you're not borrowning money to fund sesame street. You're borrowing money to fund your military.

    • I used to watch The Letter People when we visited my Nana in Florida. It definitely freaked me out, and for years I couldn't get anyone to believe me that the show existed. Then a few years ago I found it on bootleg DVD at a comiccon. I didn't buy it, but I got to prove that I'm not crazy.

      • Oh, it definitely existed and you can blame KETC (St Louis PBS station) for ever producing it. It made anything by Sid & Marty Krofft look like something a sane & sober person would think of.

        The theme/intro for it wasn't so bad, but almost all the segments of the show were deeply disturbing somehow…

  10. I grew up on Sesame Street here in Australia in addition to all our local programs, and I loved it.
    But honestly, who on Earth wouldn't love Sesame street?

    Obviously whether or not PBS is affected by the US Presidential Election doesn't mean a great deal to me over here, but I can guarantee sad faces if Sesame Street ceases to be.

  11. We were watching a friend's 4-year-old (at the time) for a couple of days, and I was wearing my Oscar shirt. She didn't know who it was, and I was sure it was just difficult because the shirt just had his eyes on it. Nope. She'd never even heard of Sesame Street.

    Caroll Spinney was on SNL this weekend, as Big Bird, and there are 4-year-olds in this country who do not know who Oscar the Grouch is.

  12. As a kid I was most fond of that 12 thing with the pinball machine

    The show that I loved most growing up was Magic School Bus, which was also on PBS. I only found out recently that it was Canadian and ran for less time than I thought. But I'll still watch it fondly with its fantastic writing and all it taught me about science.

    • I loved that counting pinball thing. Even now, that's probably the part of Sesame Street that most sticks with me. If I'm counting to 12, I almost have to do the little jingle, even if it's just in my head.

      • I have the Pinball Counting song remixed by DJ Food. Get all 12 songs in one convenient package!

        Just last weekend I spent an evening watching YouTube vids of classic Sesame Street. Completely coincidental, of course – this sort of thing happens once every month or two…

    • Samsies for the 12 pinball and as well MUST do the jingle in my head when counting to or near 12 for any reason.

      Remember watching plenty of the Magic School Bus in my teens even with friends and cousins. It was surprising how much information they could pack into that show.

  13. Records from the time as well as oral histories seem to indicate that my early childhood consisted almost entirely of a blend of PBS (KPBS in San Diego, that's right we got the best PBS callsign) and books.

    I have no memory of any of it, but I know it's probably responsible for most of my mental frarmework.

  14. Outburst of political disagreement. Statistic that totally says you're wrong and I'm right. Your education is bad cause you said "Adorbs". (This is how politics works right?)

    I had no idea Chris Parnell was in Word Girl…but I can practically hear the voice in my head now that you mention it. I'm ok with most of PBS but they need to cut that Barney crap out ten years ago.

    • You should pay attention to the cast list of Word Girl. Almost every episode has a guest star that's a very high profile comic. It's nice to hear people I recognize in my kid's shows.

  15. Somewhat as an aside to the children's programming comments, let's not forget the other programs that PBS brings to us, like News Hour that provides in-depth news reporting and analysis in an age of two-to-three minute news soundbites, Frontline's investigative journalism, Nova for science and technology reporting, Masterpiece Theater, and a host of local programming that would otherwise never see the light of transmission on commercial television.

    Don't get me wrong, I have fond memories of Big Bird and the gang, as well as Electric Company and Square One ("Mathman, Mathman, Mathman"), but PBS is not just for children's programming as it provides content and services for everyone regardless of age or offspring.

    • I get most of my news from Newshour and Mock the Week. I particularly enjoy when they manage to get people debating a topic who actually debate the topic rather than play "spin it my way". Shields and Brooks actually got an award on how respectful and courteous they are in their weekly discussions. They had to share it, but they were awfully respectful and courteous about needing to do so.

  16. I LOVED Sesame Street. My very first favorite movie was Follow that Bird and that was as a toddler (my mom used to tell me she'd turn it on when she needed me to be really quiet for 90 minutes). I know it's been the focus of the PBS programming during this whole … thing, but it really was the program I loved the most because it was always engaging and balanced a number of different lessons, from tolerance to science to reading.

    I was also a fan of the Magic School Bus when I got older. OH, and Ghost Writer! Does anyone else remember Ghost Writer? I adored that show because kid detectives are always awesome when you're a kid. And yeah I guess we learned lessons too, but mostly solving mysteries with a ghost!

    • I remember Ghost Writer! It got spoiled for me quickly because my school quickly adopted it as part of the curriculum and I had to keep rewatching and then taking tests on the episodes. It got old very fast, especially when I already knew the endings.

  17. When Mister Hooper died, I was like Big Bird in that episode: I didn't really understand what was going on, but I knew something important had happened. Later in life, rewatching the segments on the street, I realized how amazing the writing on that one episode was.

  18. I remember at around 3 or 4 years old I learned to whistle thanks to Sesame Street! There was an animated short with a big face showing kids how to whistle, and I sat close to the screen and started imitating it. My parents came in shocked.

    My favorite sketch, though, was the hippie kids with the plant, which still makes me smile – "Plant, wake up!" (This is the best youtube vid I could find:

  19. No comments? Really? Let me guess, no one heeded your warning about political discourse in this here thread. Figures.

    Anyway I don’t know if this will see daylight but I wanted to thank you for this comic. It truly is your best work and hits me right in the feels. I shared it via my facebook page where it is reaping praise by the heapful.

    Good on ya, Joel.

    • Thanks for the kind words. There were about 30 comments before yours so I assume you're having a browser issue with the comments system.

  20. PBS does not produce Sesame Street; the Sesame Workshop does. If the Sesame Workshop wanted to, they could probably create their own network. PBS funding mostly goes to sustain the operations of rural PBS stations that could not survive without the subsidy

    • YES. Growing up in the '90s it was all Britcoms all the time in my house–Keeping Up Appearances, Chef!, etc. It's the reason I love British humor so much as an adult.

      Also, Joel, your brilliant daughter is amazing. (Table reads! Love it!) I wish Word Girl had been on when I was little!

  21. This is an awesome tribute, Joel. Good on ya. Being a latch key kid, I grew up on PBS, including Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact, Square One. I'm thrilled to know that kids can still watch these shows. I don't have kids, and I always imagine them with iPads and PlayStations in their laps rather than getting excited about educational programming. Warms my embittered heart.

  22. I, uh, never watched Sesame Street. I understand references through pop-culture osmosis, and I understand the importance of Sesame Workshop's work and the commitment that PBS makes to quality educational and informational television (as well as great arts programming). But yeah, never watched Sesame Street.

  23. Actually my son never was really into Sesame Street. But PBS was still great for him and he loved curious George, Sid the science kid(my fav), super why, and the cat in the hat. I also liked cyber chase, but that was all for me, my son has yet to get involved in that. I created playlists from many of these shows on my iPod so he could watch them on the go and thanks to on-demand programing we have had very easy access to the programs he wants anytime. currently we have moved on to some of the Disney shows like Micky Mouse clubhouse, special agent oso, Jake and the neverland pirates, and doc mcstuffins. These are still good quality educational shows with there own teaching methods. But occasionally I still try putting on sesame street to see if he gets into it with no luck.

    However his favorite book right now is "the monster at the end of this book" the same exact book my parents used to read to me when I was a kid. Recently the back cover fell off (it is almost 30 years old) And it stars lovable furry old Grover.

  24. Aaaahhhhhh… Sesame Street. Muppets in general. I'm almost 40, have no children, and yet every year my Christmas tree is adorned with Sesame Street and Muppet ornaments.

    Favorite bits I still remember very fondly:
    "There's a banana in your ear."
    "There's a hole in the bucket, Dear Liza."
    Loved Snuffleupagus – until they gave him family members.
    Loved the, I think they were called "Tiddlywinks." The little bugs that lived in the potted plant outside Ernie's window.
    Loved Oscar the Grouch and especially Smiley the inch worm.
    Loved Super Grover. As a teenager I about flipped my lid when I was out shopping and found Super Grover kitchen magnets.

    • I think it was Twiddlebugs, and I loved those too! and the Martians. Yep yep yep uh huh uh huh. I also have a MIB Super Grover collectable figure that has him in the hat and trench coat, and came with a phone booth for him to change into Super Grover in. I think Grover was always my favorite.

  25. If it wasn't for Sesame Street, my son might never have spoken. He's autistic and was having trouble relating to people but something about the muppets got through. He's probably never going to be a stunning conversationalist but Sesame Street had a huge role in teaching him to relate to others.

  26. The main thing I remember about Sesame Street was the "yipyipyipyip" aliens creeping the heck out of me. They still do, it's something about how their mouths move. Still, it's neat to think about the shows I watched growing up. Sesame Street (I watched it, just can't remember many scenes), the old Electric Company (the new one's good too, just not what I saw as a kid), Ghostwriter, Wishbone, Reading Rainbow, Square One, Bill Nye, Magic School Bus… a lot of awesome stuff.

    Bill Nye/Square One were always fun for me because they were on just before dinner and my dad's a physicist, so we'd spend dinner talking about things from the episodes. Square One has a bit on fractions and we wind up spending the evening doing painter problems (when you're a kid inverting fractions feels like you're doing magic), Bill Nye mentions the VLA in my home state of New Mexico and dad would explain why they picked that part of the country to put it in, and then take us to the next astronomy night in our town to look through telescopes. Awesome discussion stimulation.

  27. A few thoughts:

    For less than the cost of pumping five hundred local station's worth of electromagnetic radiation into the air for an hour, YouTube has over three hundred official Sesame Street sketches on YouTube. Yet Square One TV is nowhere to be found except pirated videos and tribute sites.

    Since it's considered passe for TV stations to go dark at midnight, PBS gets to put all sorts of things on the air 24/7.

    In America, there are a thousand advertiser-driven channels, and one PBS, funded by the CPB, for the tune of less than half a billion dollars. That's 1/180 of the subsidies for the green economy during the last four years.

    I watched PBS shows at the times of day when there were no 24/7 kids channels: Sunday morning before church, weekday mornings before school.

  28. I would agree with your evaluation of the situation. As a fairly young person who grew up with only being able to watch PBS on the rare ocasions I was allowed to watch television I do think it was highly influential to my development, from between the looms for literary purposes to cyber chase for mathematics. Also since I have two younger siblings I watched sesame street until around 4th grade and still managed to derive pleasure and some education from it.

  29. Sesame Street was definitely a formative chunk of my childhood, but for sheer PBSian nostalgia you can't beat Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. Now there was a program we could use more of.

    • There will (sort of) be more of it! There's like a spiritual successor in the works with a cartoon cat who does the sweater/neighborhood/imagination thing. It sounds pretty cool.

  30. I loved Sesame Street growing up, and Mr. Rogers, and there was some Ghost Writer in there too. I missed the Electric Company (born in '82), and I got out before Elmo hit it big, but I still love Sesame Street. It may be the Muppet-ness of it that still grabs me, but I still watch a lot of clips on the Youtubes and I don't have kids. When I do have kids though, I'm going to track you down yogi style and learn how to raise said kids like your daughter, because I want to do kitchen table reads of plays written by children. That is the best thing.

  31. <In Charlton Heston voice> "You tell everybody. Listen to me. Hatcher. You've gotta tell 'em! MUPPETS ARE PEOPLE! We gotta stop them! Somehow! Listen! Listen to me… PLEASE!!! "

  32. My fondest Sesame Street memory was recent and had nothing to do with children, really. I was at a Society of American Archivists conference, and one of the presented gave a talk about working in the Jim Henson archives and had slides of a few of the original designs and sketches. It was incredible and looked like one of the best internships ever.

  33. I wasn't a young child when Sesame Street was first aired. My little brother was born 15 years after me, so fortunately, I got to watch it after school, with him on my lap. Not sure who enjoyed the program more. Bert & Ernie were always my favorite: like all great comical pieces "for children", from Warner Brothers animation to The Simpsons, the many levels at which it was written made it well worth watching for all ages.

    Sadly, my brother died of leukemia at age 14. Watching Sesame Street with him is one of my greatest memories.

  34. like most people my age i remember when Hoopers was owned by Mister Hooper i also remember when he died and what a big deal that was. and that big bird stil to this day has a sketch of Mister Hooper by his nest

  35. I was born in 1961, so I was too old for Sesame Street back then. But ya know what? We watched it ANYWAY. Because Muppets. Because cool. Because funny. Because everyone GOT ALONG. It was the street everyone wanted to live on. So, yeah, I can tell you how to get, how to get to Sesame Street.

  36. PBS was such a big part of my childhood I can't even imagine what my life would have been like without it. Sesame Street was a big one of course. I'm fairly sure the reason why I always had a bigger vocabulary than my classmates was because of the curiosity about words that show gave me. I can't even count all the things I knew before we learned them in class due not only to Sesame Street, but other PBS shows as well (Bill Nye the Science Guy and Magic School Bus were favorites of mine). I also learned about sharing, manners, telling the truth, and how important it is to get along with others who are different from you. Makes me think that maybe more people should have watch a little more Sesame Street when they were kids…

    • Thanks for fixing my joke. You've really managed to make it unrelatable to the subject matter all while showing a lack of familiarity with current events. Kudos.

  37. I was just a bit old for Sesame Street when it started, but, like someone else said, MUPPETS! I watched it periodically through the years and raised my kids watching it – who will hopefully raise their kids watching it! No one has mentioned Wishbone – the little Jack Russell terrier that retold classic literature with himself as the hero. It was pretty adorbs, too! As a family we would catch Bill Nye (because he was local for us, we felt connected ;-)), Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, Mr Rogers and others. Adult programming such as Nova, anything with Neil DeGrasse-Tyson, and the new Sherlock series (talk about a nerdgasm!) are great viewing as well.

  38. My son Alex just turned 10, and for a few months he swore his name was "Oker" (Oscar). When we would question him if he was named Oscar the Grouch-his response was, "NO! Oker the Boy!"
    We still tease him about that, and occasionally buy him Oscar themed items.

Leave a Reply