Kevin Clash: The importance of ‘Being Elmo’

cab9c5c00ed4255a427b0fa77977d5e4

Kevin Clash is not a monster. He has simply lent his voice and movement to one for the past 20 years.

In “Being Elmo,” viewers get to meet the man behind one of Sesame Street’s most beloved furry creatures. And what a unique man he is, with an against-the-odds backstory as a teenage outcast in Baltimore with a passion for puppets. But that all turned around when Clash got a local gig on a morning TV show, which led to him meeting the puppeteers in Jim Henson’s circle. “Being Elmo” footage captures this precious moment in time like a fly on the wall, but  it raises the question of how anybody knew to have a fly there.

“That’s the question that everybody asks for every film festival we go to,” says Clash.

Just so he doesn’t have to answer it again as he stands in front of an audience on Friday night at the Philadelphia Film Festival, we’ll tell you that the film comes from a PBS-syndicated show called “Big Blue Marble” that aired in the ’70s. “We were very lucky that we got that footage, because there’s a lot in there about what I was doing at the age of 17,” he says.

“Being Elmo” is also full of little-known tidbits, like the fact that Elmo originally spoke like a caveman. “Two puppeteers only did a couple of shows before they stopped performing the character, so nobody really got to know Elmo,” says Clash, who certainly altered Elmo’s anonymity. “I had about five or six voices that I was comfortable with; and when I saw Elmo, that was the voice that I thought would be right for him.”

Kevin Clash keeps it clean

Though Elmo may be a monster, Clash says the character never swears. Not even when the cameras aren’t rolling.

“We know what these characters represent, even if we don’t have kids around,” he explains about himself and the other puppeteers. “We crack ourselves up, but it’s to a limit, so it’s always definitely G-rated. …We respect what Jim [Henson] left with us, which is the wonderful legacy of that Muppet sense of humor that doesn’t need to go there.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.