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October 20, 2010

The Monster WICF's Monster Could Smell Like
by WomenInComedy - 0

"Everything is better when you add a muppet — especially Grover."
— Kristin Cook

Around these parts, we all love the Muppets. I will fight you if you say you don't, so help me— (Alright, calming, happy thoughts now . . . counting with the Count on a warm summer's day . . . Big Bird in a sunny meadow, jumping rope . . . )

Phew, that's better. Where were we, then? Ah, yes, love for the Muppets runs strong and deep around here, so we were extra, super-duper excited when WICF spoke with Kristin Cook, Associate Producer at Sesame Workshop. Kristin was part of the team that created the "Grover: Smell Like A Monster" Old Spice commercial parody, and she was gracious enough to fan the flames of our muppet obsession.

WICF: What is your job, and what hand did you have in this video?

Kristin: I was the technical director on the shoot and the editor. I also helped out here and there during pre-production.

WICF: How did this video come about? Where'd the idea come from, how many people were involved, and how long did it take?

Kristin: Well, I work in the Digital Media department of Sesame Workshop, and everyone in the office was a big fan of the original Old Spice commercial from the start. One of our copy writers, Jessie Hopkins, had written a short piece for Grover that was sort of in the "Old Spice" style and during the shoot our director, J Milligan, thought of the idea to really go for it and try to do a straight up spoof of the commercial. We have a little production team lead by our great producer, Alison Folino, and we are about seven people, not including the three puppeteers we had on the shoot. We were on a pretty tight schedule and we actually put the whole thing together in about two weeks.

WICF: What was the goal for this video? Was the idea to make a viral video? For it to stay on the Sesame Workshop site? Open-ended?

Kristin: We really just wanted to make a funny, and entertaining video — We believe that if you're not having fun, then you're not learning. The new season was starting so we had planned on putting the video on YouTube just as a short promo.

We all joked about how great it would be if the video went viral, so we're really pleased that people seemed to enjoy it and at least to get our sense of humor.

WICF: Have there been other videos like this? Why do you think this one took off the way it did?

Kristin: This is the first parody video we did as just digital content. Of course the show has always done great parodies like "Mad Men" and "True Mud." It's a great way to entertain parents and their kids at the same time. I think the video took off because obviously people loved the original and everything is better when you add a muppet, especially Grover.

WICF: Do the same people who create Sesame Street the show also create Sesame Old Spice parody videos, or is the studio more compartmentalized? Was this Grover muppet the same muppet used daily on TV?

Kristin: Most of the video for Sesame is done by the larger production team, but Digital Media has their own small team with an in-house green screen studio. We do video content for online games and original video for This was the real Grover, as seen on TV.

WICF: How much fun was it to Old Spice a muppet?

Kristin: Awesome fun. Everyone had a great time. We all really liked the original so we never got sick of watching it over and over. Whenever we were stuck as to what do do during the shoot, we would say "look to Mustafa". Then we would re-watch the original for inspiration.

WICF: Who is the audience for this video?

Kristin: This video is for parents, their kids and the fans. I really think it's even fun for the little kids who don't even get the spoof part of it. They can watch Grover be silly and hopefully start thinking that learning can be fun, too.

You can see more Grover videos on his Facebook page.

Interviewed for WICF by Liz McKeon.


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