From Scott Feschuk‘s book Searching for Michael Jackson’s Nose.
Does it say too much about me to mention that I spent 45 minutes searching for this on the internet before realizing the possibility that I’d come across it somewhere else? Like in a … what’s the word? Book, right? After all, I used to read stuff that existed in the physical as well as ethereal world. But that was many years ago…
A Two – Two, Ah! Ah! Ah! – Two-Faced Snake
PRODUCER: Hey. Excuse me, you, with the feathers. Listen, we’re from A&E. We’re here to shoot some footage for a Biography special on Elmo. You know him?
BIG BIRD (sipping a latte): Sure, I know Elmo. Everyone on Sesame Street knows Elmo.
PRODUCER: Great. That’s great. Let us just get the camera set up here and we’ll ask you a few questions. Stories, anecdotes, fond memories – whatever you can come up with.
BIG BIRD: Oh, you don’t want to talk to me. Elmo and I used to be good pals, but he doesn’t hang out on the street much any more. I hardly ever see him these days.
PRODUCER: So talk about old times, when Elmo was first getting to be famous. [to camera operator] You ready? Okay, shoot.
BIG BIRD: All right. Well, that was when it all started to change, really. Elmo had always been a sweet little guy, even when he was starting to make it big. But then one year Bob McGrath took him to the Grammys, and Elmo was never the same.
PRODUCER: Got a bit of a big head, did he?
BIG BIRD: Well, not exactly. I think what happened is that at one of those after-parties, Bob introduced Elmo to P.Diddy, and they just hit it off. Dancing, laughing, partying. One minute Elmo‘s learning his alphabet and practicing his phonics, the next he’s chugging Cristal and calling Maria “bee-yatch.”
PRODUCER: Cut. That’s great, Bird, great. But we’re working more from the Elmo-is-adored-by-children-around-the-world angle.
BIG BIRD: Oh sure, he’s all tee-hee for the cameras. But yell “Cut!” these days and the kid’s got a voice like Harvey Fierstein and a temper like Sean Penn.
PRODUCER: Right. [Sees someone else is coming]Okay, thanks, Bird. Hey! Hey, blue guy. Over here. How about you? What do you make of Elmo‘s remarkable success?
COOKIE MONSTER: Me no want to talk about him.
PRODUCER: Come on, our viewers would appreciate it.
COOKIE MONSTER: Me say this. Me used to get all best cookies, real gourmet product. Now, budget all go to Elmo. Big trailer, masseuse, guest directors for his segments. Quentin Tarantino take forty-seven days to shoot balls-falling-out-of-closet gag. An then they make me do sketch with frickin’ Dutch windmill cookies. Dutch windmill cookies. [Pause] Dutch. Windmill. Cookies.
PRODUCER: Er, right… You two! Stop! What about you two fellows? What can you tell us about Elmo?
ERNIE: Well, I don’t know what you’ve heard, but he’s a good kid.
PRODUCER: Finally! Get the camera over here!
ERNIE: A lot of folks on Sesame Street are jealous, though. I mean, a guy like Grover has been paying his dues for decades – never bellyaching, not even when they stuffed him into a white disco suit for the cover of the Sesame Street Fever album – and he gets jack-all in the way of respect around here. But Elmo giggles and moults fof fifteen minutes every day and he’s got Emmys out the wazoo. It gets a little hard to take. Just yesterday, he shows up late for our rhyming-game segment. Eyes as red as his fur. And I’m not even going to tell you how he replied when I started the sketch by saying, “Pucker.”
BERT (nudging his way in): You know at the end of the show, there’s that bit where they say, “Sesame Street is brought to you by the letter F and the number five,” or something like that. Well, Elmo has a hissy fit one day – storms off the set! – when the producers won’t agree to change it to “Sesame Street is brought to you by Big Ol’ Hank’s Burger Hut and Tequila Bar.” They always comp Elmo down at Big Ol’ Hank’s. The rest of us can’t even run a friggin’ tab.
PRODUCER: CUt. [Sighs] Burn that tape.
ERNIE: I heard that’s why they gave him his own show a few years back – to keep him from bolting. Fox was after him to play the lead in a bawdy new sitcom opposite Tori Spelling and one of the California Raisins.
PRODUCER: Wel, um… thanks. Cripes. [Dejectedly] How about you, sir? Do you have a minute to tell our viewers what you think of Elmo?
COUNT VON COUNT: Yes, I have precisely one – one, ah! ah! ah! – one minute to spare. So let me tell you a story, Mr. Producer Man. I run a little sideline business on Sesame Street: a public service involving financial repercussions resulting from the outcomes of certain events of a sporting nature, if you catch my drift. [The producer stares ahead vacantly] I’m a friggin’ bookie. Anyway, Elmo gets on the show, starts earning a little green. Next thing I know he’s knocking on my castle door. Kid got lucky at first, real lucky: he always bet that the baker guy with the cakes would wind up falling down those stairs. Clumsy oaf cost me a fortune! But then Elmo started wagering on hopscotch, on rock-paper-scissors – he was out of control, and his luck turned bad. Soon, the kid’s into me for five – five, ah! ah! ah! – for five large. But every time I go to collect, I get a face-full of fat furry enforcer, telling me to scram. You ask me, the kid’s a two – two, ah! ah! ah! – two-faced snake.
There is a pause.
PRODUCER: Screw this. Let’s hit the road. I say we try soemthing a little easier this afternoon, like getting Mia Farrow to say some nice things for the Woody Allen bio.
As the producer and his crew depart, they walk past the Sesame Street Four Seasons, where Elmo is in the hot tub shooting a segment for his show, Elmo’s World.
ELMO (wearing sunglasses and nursing a highball while bikinied Muppets peel grapes for him): Hi, kids! Elmo loves you! Today we’re going to learn all about “groupies.”
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