"Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Life"
Release Date: Dec. 2, 2011
Running Time: 80 minutes
How to get to Sesame Street? For Kevin Clash, the man responsible for bringing the beloved Elmo to life, it was his childhood love of puppetry that led to his magic carpet ride to Sesame Street. As revealed in the uplifting Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, Clash’s dream to work with Muppets creator Jim Henson began after he watched the very first episode of Sesame Street in 1969. By high school, Clash had so mastered puppetry that the CBS affiliate in his hometown of Baltimore hired him for an early morning kids show. This led to a gig during the final seasons of Captain Kangaroo. Eventually taken under the wing of Kermit Love, Henson’s puppet builder, Clash would go on to work on Labyrinth before Henson offered him a job on Sesame Street. But it wasn’t until a frustrated senior Muppeteer literally threw Elmo in his lap that Clash would finally make his mark on Sesame Street. Clash’s passion for his craft and his admiration of Henson’s accomplishments shine through in Being Elmo. There’s much inspiration to be found in Clash’s rise to success in the face of the scorn he endured at an early age by those who did not understand or appreciate his talent. It’s as invaluable a lesson as any to be found in an episode of Sesame Street. Also, through Being Elmo, director Constance Marks applauds those willing to serve as mentors and encourages those who have been mentored to return the favor, which is emphasized by the time Clash spends with a young puppeteer with similar ambitions that Clash possessed at that age. The documentary also details the “Tickle Me, Elmo” craze, which seemed less about teaching kids the true meaning of friendship than an attempt to squeeze every dollar possible out of the popularity of the Sesame Street resident. Clash also got caught up in the “Tickle Me, Elmo” craze to the point that his newfound fame and obligations strained his relationship with his family. Given Clash has since redefined his priorities and strengthened his relationship with his teenage daughter, Being Elmo’s biggest achievement is to generate a greater appreciation for the positive values that Clash has instilled in every preschooler’s favorite fuzzy TV friend.
Aired: Dec. 1, 2011
Web site: http://beingelmo.com/