"Ernie, do you know that you have a banana in your ear?"
"I can't hear you! I have a banana in my ear!"
-Bert and Ernie
From Laurel and Hardy and Abbott and Costello to C-3PO and R2-D2 and Pinky and the Brain, the comic duo consisting of a straight man and his comic foil- one tall and thin, the other fat and short- has lasted over the years. Of this sort of duo, perhaps none is more recognizable and beloved worldwide as Bert and Ernie. Originally performed by Frank Oz and Jim Henson, respectively, Bert and Ernie were two of the first Muppets to appear on Sesame Street, starring in test episodes before the series formally went into production. (In these episodes, the Muppet characters were kept seperate from the humans to show the difference between fantasy and reality; when it was discovered that kids enjoyed the Muppets more than the humans, it was decided to combine the two.)
As opposite as they can be, the nerdy Bert enjoys pigeons, oatmeal, and collecting bottle caps, while his more laid-back pal Ernie enjoys bathtime with his Rubber Duckie and anything that annoys Bert. Despite their differences, the two remain best friends. Many have often joked or pondered if there is something more to their relationship, and some forms of media- including the musical Avenue Q and a short film based on The Children's Hour- depict what life might be like if one of the two saw more in the other than just a friend. Although interesting looks at these beloved characters, Sesame Workshop's official statement on Bert and Ernie's relationship puts the truth better than I could: "They are not gay. They are not straight. They are puppets."
Photo and Caption by Ryan W. Mead
Sesame Street: A Celebration of 40 Years of Life on the Street
Brooklyn Public Library, Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, New York 11238
November 14, 2009-February 21, 2010
Taken November 14, 2009
Muppet characters on loan from The Jim Henson Company and/or The Jim
Sesame Street characters and elements ©Sesame Workshop
MUPPET® is a registered trademark of The Muppets Studio, LLC