Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey

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What’s behind the most famous puppet in the world?

Normally, when someone continually speaks in the third person it’s makes you want to smack them. For some reason, when Elmo does it, it makes you want to hug him. Being Elmo helped me understand why.

Elmo draws kids (and adults) towards himself with an immense gravitational pull. As a character on Sesame Street, he’s gone from being a part of the larger cast to actually having his own “World” that takes up almost half of the show. For a little red puppet, Elmo is as big as it gets.

As a film, Being Elmo has two stories that are unfolding throughout it. First is the story of Kevin Clash, the man with his hand in Elmo’s mouth. Clash’s desire to be a great puppeteer and his commitment to reaching this goal is inspiring.  His story would be worth engaging even it had nothing to do with becoming the human being behind the world’s most famous puppet. His sense that he was made to be something, do something, share something with the world is moving. It is also cautionary tail as well. Ironically it’s hard to be the world’s most loved children’s figure and be a good dad at the same time.

The second story is Elmo. There have been hundreds of puppets over the past few decades that have made their way into mainstream consciousness, but none of them have tickled our collective fancy like Elmo. Being Elmo is not only the story about the human behind Elmo, it’s also the story of what it is about being a human that makes us love Elmo so much.

Elmo thinks this movie is worth watching. Elmo is right.