Characters build bridges, launch rockets and think through problems that require trial and error, observation and data.
Young children are “natural scientists,” says Rosemarie Truglio, vice president for education and research at Sesame Workshop, which produces the show. “They’re exploring the world around them and trying to figure out how the world works.”
Slapstick will respect the laws of physics, promise the writers, who recalls the Muppet rule of thumb: “When in doubt, throw a chicken.”
As any slapstick comedian will tell you, physics is a comedy gold mine, and the writers soon discovered — or, more likely, remembered — they could apply it to many earnest setups. In one episode, Elmo engineers an automatic spaghetti server with disastrous results. In another, Grover, pondering inclined planes, helps a cow climb a flight of stairs for a manicure.
Acknowledging Newton’s Laws of Motion, this season anyone who hits a brick wall will bounce back before sliding to the floor. “It’s more scientifically accurate slapstick,” says Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente.
. . . Invoking another Muppet rule of thumb — It’s funny anytime someone is thrown and lands painfully — Parente adds, “Nothing is funnier than gravity. Add some sound effects to gravity, and you’re golden.”
In the opening episode of the show’s 42nd season, characters help Hubert the Human Cannonball figure out how to launch himself from a cannon into a vat of blue gelatin.