Elmo Makes Music. Kids Make Noise.

by Greg on March 17, 2013

I learned a few things at the Sesame Street “Elmo Makes Music” concert last night:

1. Triangles have three sides;

2. The letter “J” is a big sponsor;

and 3. I never want to do that again.

The concert itself was actually really well done based on the portions I could hear. It was nice to take a sometimes nostalgic trip down memory lane as the characters busted out the old school Sesame Street rhymes. But roughly 12 minutes into the show, the majority of kids had met their threshold and were ready to go home. Rather than sit quietly and enjoy the colors, dancing, and fancy lights decorating the stage, they sat in their seats blathering with outside voices as though nothing was going on around them.

With kids in attendance this crew didn't even get to enjoy their 15 minutes of fame.

Of the 2,400 folks in attendance, approximately 1,400 were children. Of the 1,400 children, approximately 6 watched in silent awe. The rest mindlessly chatted away or wailed uncontrollably when a cotton candy salesman would stride by and leave them empty-handed. Every 12-15 seconds these vendors would walk by with $8 bags filled with 16 cents worth of whispy sugar. Which means that every 12-15 seconds, Bert & Ernie’s duet would be muffled by a chorus of calls for overpriced treats on a stick.

Being a father of three, I know full well that a child’s attention span is equal to that of an amnesic gnat. Unless you’re able to maintain constant focus, which requires the use of firecrackers, you’ll lose them. And once you lose them, you’ll come to realize that you blew $90 on a memory they’ll never retain.

Prior to the start of the concert, kids were bouncing in their seats, talking loudly, and ignoring parental pleas to remain still. But once those lights went down and the Sesame Street creatures took the stage, the kids turned, stared, and marveled as the stage came alive. Then, around the 12-minute mark, they resumed bouncing in their seats, talking loudly, and ignoring parental pleas to remain still.

Kamryn wasn’t among the obnoxious but she did prattle away without any regard for those around her. She wasn’t wrestling in her seat or jibber-jabbing without a point. Instead, her boisterous chatter was more cerebral in nature. She would ask questions like, “Is that the REAL Elmo? Or a fake Elmo?” To which I assured her that all of the characters were real. Seemingly satisfied with my answer, she turned and stared intently at the stage.

But what I thought was a gaze of childhood wonderment was actually a discerning look of growing doubt. Minutes later, she turned to me and asked in an almost mocking tone, “If they’re real, then why don’t their eyes blink?”

I don’t know how these performers could stand it. Granted, they get paid whether any child realizes they’re up there or not, but it would drive me crazy to be singing, dancing, and asking the audience rhetorical questions knowing so few were paying attention.

Jenny, the human aspect of the show, was terrific. While the characters themselves just had to dance their routines as a soundtrack played over the loudspeakers, she had to do all of her talking and singing Live. To be honest, Elmo made very little music of his own. This was clearly Jenny’s show, but Elmo has the notoriety, and the producers are smart enough to know that they won’t sell nearly as many tickets with a marquee that reads, “Jenny Makes Music.”

Elmo is the draw, and I’m sure he draws an equally fat check.

Jenny, the human, is on the left.
Elmo, the cash cow, is on the right.

If you ever decide to attend a child-oriented concert, expect to see very little of the child-oriented concert. It’s like being on that nightmare flight when the kid six rows up is crying, kicking seats, and demanding treats. Only this particular flight has 1,400 unruly passengers all striving to annoy you in unison.

There were several times when I turned to Heather to ask if these kids even knew the concert had started. It was actually quite unbearable, and considering parents were either seated next to these blabbermouths or beneath them as children contorted in their laps, I’m amazed that 2+ hours passed without so much as a “Shhhhh!” or a frazzled Big Bird peering into the crowd and shouting, “HEY KIDS? SHUT THE F*** UP!”

Throughout the concert, Jenny would be prancing about the stage trying to whip the crowd into a frenzy over the fact that The Count had made it all the way to the number 8. Yet, repeatedly, her calls for a collective “EIGHT!” from the crowd were met with a smattering of halfhearted replies. Staying true to the script, Jenny would compliment us on how fantastic we were at counting, even though 98% of the children had no clue she’d even asked them to participate. Even so, this didn’t stop the group from taking credit with the round of applause Jenny suggested we give ourselves.

From a parental standpoint, I give the show a 9 out of 10, and I’d give the audience a negative three. I asked Kamryn what she thought of the show and she replied with, “I want a balloon.” Based on the cash flying out of parental wallets throughout the night, it’s clear that from a childhood perspective, the merchandising was a 10. Cotton candy? A 10. The show? Well, most would be hard-pressed to realize there was one.

Hi kids! Can you help Elmo count his millions? 1...2...3...

The concert’s ambiance aside, we did enjoy a special night with our daughter. Following the show, we took her to a Japanese-style Steakhouse so she could watch them cook on the Hibachi grill in front of us. Judging by the fact that she never took her eyes off the chef’s mechanics and still hasn’t stopped talking about it, I think Elmo can take away a lesson here. If you really want to capture and maintain a child’s interest, you need to add a dimension of fire and juggled knives.

Granted, the fuzzy costumes present somewhat of a fire hazard, but you have to admit that watching a flaming Elmo frantically roll around the stage would absolutely provide the kind of long-lasting memory we’re after as fleeced parents.

“Hibachi Elmo”

Now THAT is a ticket I’d buy.

_________________________________________________________

{ 12 comments }

Anne March 17, 2013 at 2:03 am

I am glad you guys enjoyed a night out with Kamryn with out the boys:)

Alexander Maurizi March 17, 2013 at 5:49 am

Hilarious! I can totally relate having attended countless child-oriented and father-disoriented shows myself.

Nancy B March 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm

LOL. My head aches for you right now. But I’m betting Kamryn will remember the night she spent with her awesome Dad (oh, and the Sesame Street peeps, too). PS… I love the picture of Big Bird photo-bombing Elmo & the human.

karen March 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm

Such a shame that kids have such short attention spans nowadays. With fast-paced TV shows and I-Pads reacting to the touch of a screen, it takes a lot to keep kids engaged.

Carly March 17, 2013 at 8:10 pm

We took our son when he was 2.5 years old and he was one of the 2% who was absolutely riveted. He counted and recited ABC’s on command, danced in the aisles and hung on every word for the entire show.

Glad you had fun with Kamryn though!

Brian the Kwyjibo March 17, 2013 at 9:17 pm

A sure way to know if what you’re looking at is real or fake: check for blinking.

Nice review, Greg, and I’m glad you survived to tell the tale.

Valerie March 18, 2013 at 9:09 pm

When my daughter was 1, I took her to Disney on Ice. She spent the entire time ignoring the wonder and assaulting me. You see… I had just stopped breast feeding and my little darling thanked my by forcibly whipping my boob out in public and screaming hysterically. I thus spent the rest of the show breast feeding in the handicapped stall. And that was the last time I ever visited one of those horrid shows…

That was 9years ago. I still have nightmares…

Hugs!

Valerie

Mishka March 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I think that they are crazy to have a 2+ hour long show for kids to begin with, but then they couldn’t have ticket prices as high as they are if the show were shorter…a catch 22 I guess.

I am not a big fan of Elmo…his baby talk voice drives me nuts. I am old school Sesame Street…LOL

Jenelle March 21, 2013 at 9:23 am

bahahahaha! Hibachi Elmo! Hahahaha! I’ve ventured to Chuck E. Cheese for my son…and have sworn to not endure any other child hells hence forth. My husband escaped that outing. He’s on duty next.

Ami L March 23, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Oh I laughed so hard I was crying. Mostly at the flaming Elmo part but… also because I feel your pain. A few years ago we took my then 8 yr old to Disney on Ice of some variation and it was a painfully horrible experience. Not only did we have the kid attention span issue but the show was BAD. Lesson learned…

Ribena Tina @ ribenamusings March 26, 2013 at 3:22 am

Hilarious!

When Beautiful B was 3 she was obsessed with Barney, he was all we ever heard from the TV – I can at least credit him with teaching her the alphabet because she listened to him more than me in that respect.

We flew all the way to Orlando to find out that Beautiful B was scared of Barney in the flesh along with every other Disney character because they were bigger than they were on the TV.

It was okay – there was still someone legging it after them in complete excitement for autographs; me!

Jessica February 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm

This is hysterical! I was debating on going to this show with my daughter but I am now convinced to just continue using DVR for the 7am weekday showing on TV! I am now positive that my money will be better spent on a babysitter and a Broadway show for myself. Thanks for the laugh 🙂

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