Ryan Dosier – So… I was really bored today (as surely I am most days), so I decided to enjoy one of my very favorite DVDs, A Celebration of Me, Grover. If you do not own this compilation of Grover’s greatest moments, and what is easily one of the best Sesame Street DVDs on the market, you are really missing out. I highly suggest ordering it on Amazon–either by instant digital download for $9.99 or on DVD for about $7.00.
The made-for-DVD special features all of Grover’s friends as they gather at the Flyer’s Club to say nice things about him (as Big Bird so eloquently puts it, “This is a roost–not a roast”). This compiles some wonderful clips of Grover doing what he does best: working countless odd-jobs, singing with Lena Horne, going over, under, around, and through, and, my favorite part, hugging, talking, and entertaining with children.
All of this just reinforced what I already knew: Grover is my favorite Sesame Street character for so many reasons (reasons that are all beautifully spelled out in the aforementioned DVD). For me, it’s hard to find another character on the Street that is so well defined and so clever, funny, and adorable. Yes, furry, lovable Grover is everything a Muppet should be. I have to attribute most of this to the brilliance of Frank Oz (obviously), whose wit and humor shaped Grover and gave him his wondrous timing and charm. A brilliance that has been picked up and carried on almost flawlessly by Eric Jacobson.
When Grover works with a child, he does not talk down to them (you’ll see no, “Hi, baaaaby!” from Grover), he does not answer questions for them, and he patiently, earnestly, honestly listens to them. He becomes not only a peer to these kids, but an obvious friend as well. This can be seen in the video Megan, Grover, and the Moon where Grover and his friend Megan discuss the moon and what it means in Chinese culture. Grover also shares the child’s sense of innocence and love. He states openly that hugging is his favorite thing in the world, he shows Kate that hugging and kissing means they like each other, and is thrilled beyond belief that Stephanie will play with him.
Another amazing thing about Grover is that he works exceptionally well with virtually anyone. He has been known to assist the Amazing Mumford, play on Guy Smiley’s game shows, make friends with Telly, frustrate Ray Romano or Kermit or Oscar the Grouch or, especially, Mr. Johnson, the ever-suffering customer of Grover’s. I really can’t think of a character that Grover does not work well with–or even one that he hasn’t worked with at all. Everyone loves Grover and everyone has worked with him on more than a few occasions.
Both of these things–Grover’s connection with children and his friendships with countless people and characters–are what make him my favorite Sesame character and what make him a good friend I’ve never met. Grover always reaches out though the television and becomes a friend to the viewers. He engages us, first as children by making sure we understand what he is teaching–even when it hurts him to do so–and later we are engaged by Grover as adults when we recognize his off-hand comments that are obviously directed towards us, which you can see in this clip where he and Elmo are telegram delivery monsters. Grover remarks, “You cannot shove singing and dancing under the door–it is artistic!” Obviously a call out to the parents watching.
Because Grover shows that he loves us, we, in turn, reciprocate his love–both by loving Grover and learning to love ourselves. Grover teaches us to love who we are and love the ones you’re with. What better message can a children’s television character possibly have?
I’ve interviewed Elmo, hung out with Zoe, and even asked my favorite Muppet, Gonzo, a question… but I am certain that I will never be complete until I have the opportunity to meet Grover. We’re old friends… he just doesn’t really know it yet!
The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier