Yesterday was a pretty geektastic day for me. As a fan of the Muppets it is rare that you actually get to meet someone that actually is in the Muppet family. When the opportunity DOES come along, you definitely do not want to miss it. My opportunity happened to be yesterday when I drove up to the Beverly Hills Hilton for the a discussion panel with Kevin Clash (the puppeteer behind Elmo) and Constance Marks who directed the upcoming and award winning documentary Being Elmo.
I showed up at the hotel shortly before 9:00 and checked in. I was given a bag full of books, dvds, cds, and more. It was a big bag that actually was rather substantial and had a giant PBS logo on the side. As I made my way into the ballroom where breakfast was being served for us a gentleman walked up to me and asked about the Kermit the Frog pin on my briefcase. After explaining my love for the Muppets I learned that he was the director of photography for Being Elmo. He was incredibly excited about the film and his enthusiasm was infectious. We talked for a few minutes about the Muppets, Kevin Clash, and of course the film. As he moved off, he gave me a Being Elmo button which I promptly put on my briefcase.
After grabbing coffee and a waffle, I sat down and waited to see what happen. My friend Lisa (from Babes in Disneyland, if you haven’t checked it out, have kids, and go to Disneyland, you NEED to see this website!) who set the day up for me arrived and we started jabbering away. About this time, I noticed that Kevin Clash had arrived with a black leather bag. He unzipped it and I saw red fur. Within in minutes Elmo was meeting members of the press, critics, and some children. It was absolutely magical. Elmo was alive and real and to be completely honest, you forgot Kevin Clash was even there! Lisa and I decided it was probably a good idea to get in line to meet Elmo (the meet and greet time was from 9-10). We hopped in line and there were only a couple of people in front of us so the wait was short. As we got closer and closer I watched the magical moments just materialize out of nothing. A highlight has to be when Elmo told a pregnant ladies stomach that he couldn’t wait for them to come see him on Sesame Street. It was an absolutely beautiful moment. Touching just doesn’t describe what a sweet moment this was.
I must admit, before yesterday I was always impressed by the puppetry and the performing skills of Kevin Clash. I thought the Elmo was a bit on the childish side for me though. Seeing him in real life totally changed this though. I felt like a kid inside as I saw the kindness and the sweetness come through this little monster. It was so enchanting!
Finally it was our turn to meet Elmo. Lisa went first and I used her camera to take pictures. I went second and we reversed rolls. It was absolutely impossible to not smile while meeting this red fur ball monster. We each got our pictures taken with Lisa’s camera and also the PBS camera guy (we found out later we’d have access to these pictures as well!). The moment was amazing and I can say that I’ve now had a member of the Muppet family sit on my shoulder and converse with me! Better yet, I have photographic proof!
After finishing breakfast and enjoying chatting with Lisa for the rest of the first hour, the discussion panel with Kevin Clash and director Constance Marks began as part of the promotion of Being Elmo. While some of the questions were about the documentary, some were not directly. All of them were interesting. I will be posting a synopsis of the question and answer session later this week as I’m already recognizing that this post is getting longer than I originally intended! So… we’ll have a part 2 of this post!
Meeting Elmo and Kevin Clash really was an amazing experience for me. The Muppet family really isn’t that big. Getting to meet ANYONE in it would be amazing. Getting to meet someone who is iconic and really has helped keep the Muppets iconic as we’ve moved into a new century is even more exciting! Since his inception, Elmo has been a hit and has drawn more people into the world of Muppets and puppetry. Kevin Clash is a master of both and it was an honor to be in the same room with him.
Lastly, I’m going to share a video with you that Kevin Clash referenced. It is Elmo’s last visit to Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Clash was talking about how he really enjoys knowing Elmo so well that ad libbing is a blast. Here is an example that I hope you enjoy! I’ll have more on this very special event in the near future. You can also read my article on DAPs Magic Disney News here: Elmo and Kevin Clash Come to Beverly Hills
Make it a GREAT day!