Being Elmo: documentary on Elmo's human

Being Elmo is a documentary on the live of Kevin Clash, who was raised on Sesame Street and dreamed of being a Muppeteer with Jim Henson. He went straight from high school to New York to throw himself at the Henson studios, came up with Elmo, and the character became his life. The film has received an incredibly positive reception on the festival circuit, and will be in wide release on Oct 21.

(via Kottke)


  1. I’ve met Kevin a couple of times. Not only is he great at his job, he’s a super nice guy as well. I’m very happy for him.

  2. Nothing but respect for this guy, but Elmo was always my least favorite muppet.  More of a Grover fan, I guess. 

    1. I’ve never been a huge fan of Elmo, but then he was waaay after my time (Grover FTW). However, just the brief scenes where he’s interacting with kids and how they simply light up…

      Let’s just say I will be watching this movie. Alone. With lots of Kleenex brand tissues (I’m affected pretty deeply by the sappy and sentimental)

      1. I always thought Tickle Me Elmo would make a great doll for a child psychologist.  “Show me on this doll where Grandpa touched you, Timmy.”

    2. …Elmo was always my least favorite muppet.  More of a Grover fan, I guess.

      I grew up with Grover too, but something about the combination of the red fur and the enthusiastic high-pitched voice is like crack for babies (friendly, educational crack that is). I have toddler twins and even though neither can say the other’s name yet both can now say “Elmo!”

  3. Well, I don’t tear up quite as much as watching Henson’s memorial service, but I’m glad to be reminded that someone kept that banner flying and I look forward to seeing this.

  4. Just for reference, Kevin Clash isn’t a one trick pony either.  If you’ve ever seen Clifford from Muppets Tonight, that’s Kevin too.  You can watch him with Jim and Kermit on Arsenio here:

    1. He was also Splinter in the first two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies.

      (Makes sense given that Grover is Yoda, I suppose.)

      Saw a poster for this the other day; really looking forward to it.  I read Caroll Spinney’s The Wisdom of Big Bird and the Dark Genius of Oscar the Grouch a few years back and loved it; just a great bunch of people at every level on that show.  You know how sometimes you learn more about your childhood heroes and you’re disappointed?  Sesame Street isn’t like that; every single person is just as wonderful as they seem.

  5. Kevin’s amazing.  I’ve known him for years and worked with him on several occasions.  He is definitely SO much more than Elmo – but his dedication to the character and to the totality of his work with Sesame Street are to be applauded.  The attention and accolades for his talent are long overdue.

  6. That’s cool. I remember when Elmo and Telly were both bit players. I do miss the Twiddle Bug (which are now CGI) and the “YEPYEPYEP” aliens.

    1. A few years ago I saw something with Kevin Clash and that he was the voice of Elmo, for some reason it was hard for me to believe until I heard him talk in character. I can imitate a few voices myself so I don’t know why it struck me as such.

      I too love surprises like that!

  7. I was an extra on Elmo in Grouch Land and Muppets from Space. Easiest money I’ve ever made and best time I ever had when I worked in film. I hung out with the guy who does Rizzo, he rules and is very cute. One night after we finished a shot on Muppets from Space the handler for Fozzy didn’t notice when his hat fell off while taking Fozzy to holding. No one else had noticed, so I could have scored a major trophy, but I ran down the handler and gave her the hat, because there are some things you just don’t do…

  8. I dislike Elmo as a character, but I want to see this movie.  Seems like his creator/puppeteer is an awesome guy.

    Elmo to me represents an infantilization of Sesame Street which I find unpleasant.  I rewatch old clips from when I was a kid in the early 80s, and they seem so much richer than what the show would become.  But that’s not Kevin’s fault, he’s just a guy who loves to perform and make kids happy;  he does it well, and I can’t fault him for that.

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