Sesame St S6: Bert & Ernie

"Ernie's Telephone Call"

“Ernie’s Telephone Call”

Next up, we have “Ernie’s Telephone Call”, which is in many ways a straight-up repeat of a conceit we’ve seen numerous times before in which an overly emotional Ernie reacts to a number of stimuli in quick succession. Here, he answers the phone and someone on the other line tells him about the emotional rollercoaster of his day, going from happy to sad to surprised to angry and so on and so forth, and Ernie reacts to each with full melodrama. The transition from elation at being at an outdoor picnic to sadness at the planned baseball game being rained out is basically lifted from an earlier Ernie sketch. The difference here is that Bert is listening in on the call and reacting along with Ernie rather than simply reacting to his chaotic mood swings, and the punchline that the phone call was a wrong number.


Not my favorite Bert and Ernie sketch, largely because I found some of the other iterations of this set-up funnier, but it’s solid enough, and Jim’s embodiment of Ernie’s full-hearted emotions is as wonderful as ever. And it’s yet another one in a row where Ernie isn’t deliberately antagonizing Bert, which is always nice to see.


The same can’t be said about the delightful-anyway “A Portrait of Bert, By Ernie”:



This is one of those classic Bert and Ernie sketches with a very simple and beautifully carried-out set-up and pay-off that’s just ever so slightly predictable but also immensely satisfying in part due to how reliable it feels. While we may not guess exactly how Ernie’s painting of Bert will diverge from the real thing, we know it will–in this case, he paints him with curly hair, glasses, and a beard–and Ernie’s solution is, again, classic Ernie, as well. Rather than changing the portrait, he simply slaps a wig, glasses, and false beard on his buddy Bert so that the portrait becomes accurate, reminiscent of his penchant for making his and Bert’s food portions even by consuming Bert’s until they’re “equal”.


This sketch also has some subtly hilarious moments sprinkled throughout, such as Ernie telling Bert he looks better when he isn’t talking, and when he asks Bert if he shaved off his beard. When Bert says he never had one, Ernie responds that he’s sure he had a friend once who had a beard, and he must have been thinking of someone else. I have to wonder if that “friend” is actually Jim Henson, meaning Ernie was talking about “himself”. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Frank Oz’s amazing (I’m assuming) ad-lib when he has Bert list off other things he could have been doing that day, other than wasting it on a painting that doesn’t even look like him, one of which is that he “could have gone to the library and studied oatmeal,” possibly the Bertiest thing that has ever been said.


I also have to laugh a bit about the fact that Bert says that he’s never had his portrait done before, even though right behind them is a painting of Bert and Ernie hanging on the wall, though it’s possible that, although it’s drawn, it’s meant to represent a photo in the world of the show.


Next up, a very special visit from Bert’s twin brother, Bart…



This gist of this sketch is similarly simple, however it doesn’t at all revolve around Ernie driving Bert crazy. Instead, Bert’s heretofore unmentioned twin brother, Bart, is visiting, and when he arrives, Ernie learns that just because Bart is physically identical to Bert doesn’t mean that they have much else in common. Bart arrives in a multi-colored suit cracking puns so lame that even Ernie doesn’t find them funny! Which gives a nice little lesson on how just because two people or things look alike doesn’t mean that there aren’t vast differences underneath the surface.

Pages: 1 2 3

« »