Hello everybody! I'm Carroll Spinney, the lucky puppeteer who has brought life to Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for the last 46 years.

And someone made a documentary about me! I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story is now available on iTunes here and On Demand, and is now playing in New York at the IFC Center.

Ask me your questions here, or meet me at the theater here in NYC tonight through Saturday for in-person Q&As! Thurs 7:15pm, Fri 7:25pm, and Sat 5:15pm shows.

Victoria will be assisting me over the phone today. AMA!

PROOF: http://imgur.com/wdYDGG3

Update: Well, I would say: readers of reddit: I think that you'll really enjoy the movie "I Am Big Bird."

If you like the Muppets - it's a movie for anybody. It does have a few words that puts it into not suitable for children, but I don't think it would hurt any children. It's for children old enough to know that Big Bird isn't a real bird, just me.

But everybody has loved the movie. The music is particularly beautiful in the movie. And I urge you to see it, if you like what we do. It's really quite a love story in there, about somebody I love very much.

Thank you!

Comments: 1966 • Responses: 44  • Date: 

man_mayo2645 karma

What has been your most meaningful interaction with a child during filming? Or maybe from someone who grew up watching you and relayed a poignant story?

CarollSpinney5714 karma

Okay, here's one.

This is a very sad story, but it's real.

I got a letter from a fan who said his little boy, who was 5 years old, his name was Joey, he was dying of cancer.

And he was so ill, the little boy knew he was dying.

So the man, in his letter, asked if I would call the little boy. He said the only thing that cheered him at all in his fading state was to see Big Bird on television.

So once in a while, he wouldn't see Big Bird on some days, because he wasn't necessarily in every show. So he asked could I telephone him, and talk to the boy, tell him what a good boy he's been.

So I took a while to look up a phone, because this was before cell phones. And they got a long cord to bring a phone to the boy.

And I had Big Bird say "Hello! Hello Joey! It's me, Big Bird!"

So he said "Is it really you, Big Bird?"

"Yes, it is."

I chatted a while with him, about ten minutes, and he said "I'm glad you're my friend Big Bird."

And I said "I'd better let you go now."

He said "Thank you for calling me Big Bird. You're my friend. You make me happy."

And it turns out that his father and mother were sitting with him when the phone call came. And he was very, very ill that day. And they called the parents in, because they weren't sure how long he'd last.

And so his father wrote to me right away, and said "Thank you, thank you" - he hadn't seen him smile since October, and this was in March - and when the phone was hung up, he said "Big Bird called me! He's my friend."

And he closed his eyes. And he passed away.

And I could see that what I say to children can be very important.

And he said "We haven't seen our little boy smile in MONTHS. He smiled, as he passed away. It was a gift to us. Thank you."

PeBeFri1071 karma

The controversy surrounding Big Bird's guest appearance in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood offered a solid case study of a clash of educational philosophies. Mr. Rogers, famous for his hardline approach to teaching children to differentiate between fantasy and reality ("Wishes don't make things come true"), apparently saw no problem with shattering the illusion of Big Bird, while you wished to let children maintain their belief that he was real, while their innocence still allowed for such things.

How do you feel about the disagreement nowadays? In an age of panic over video games and other media teaching impressionable children that violence is an acceptable solution to interpersonal conflict, and even some rather convincing arguments against teaching children about Santa Claus, do you have a greater understanding of Mr. Rogers' viewpoint? And would you argue that a philosophy of preserving childhood innocence can be reconciled with Big Bird's learning about what happened to Mr. Hooper (who notably did not "go to a better place")?

CarollSpinney1652 karma

Well, see - other people make arguments in favor of us being totally honest, that does not fit with my feeling of the joy of being a little child. I've seen a child discover me - we thought we were alone in a park, filming a scene outdoors on some great stretches of rock, we had to do a shot for a China film - and a little boy came along, and he saw me take Big Bird off! And he screamed, and cried, and I said "Quick!" - he looked so funny with his little legs, running away, crying and crying - and I chased after him, with the costume back on- and I said "Little boy, I'm okay" and he said "I thought that man was hurting you, Big Bird."

When children see that Big Bird - Mr. Rogers wanted me to lift the puppet which is so big I have to get inside, off - it's a series of hoops that create the shape of Big Bird, and then there's netting and feathers, they're all real feathers so he looks nice and real - we found out that children would NOT have liked seeing Big Bird take it off on Mr. Rogers. I said "I'm sorry, I can't do that!" Jim Henson didn't want me to do it either.

So we made a compromise with Mr. Rogers.

And that was that I would just go to the Make-Believe Land, and say "OK, this is Make-Believe" and have some other puppeteers - a good friend of mine, Bob Brown, would show how HIS puppets worked - little marionettes on strings - they don't look so real anyway, like Big Bird did to little kids.

We're not trying to fool them, we're just trying to entertain them, and let them know that their friend Big Bird is not just a man in a giant suit.

beernerd1023 karma

I just met Cookie Monster in the flesh (so to speak) a few weeks ago at SXSW. I was amzed by the turnout and the reactions, including my own. Full grown adults were overwhelmed with joy, as if they were being reunited with a long lost friend.

Have you experienced this sort of thing firsthand? How do you feel, knowing that you have touched so many lives through your work?

CarollSpinney1128 karma

It feels incredible. Because I've had that happen a lot, when I bring out Oscar - I just say 2 words with him- and it's very nostalgic for them. And that's why they're so pleased, and excited. Because nostalgia, and memories of your happy times as a child, makes you feel pretty good!

ImRichieDagger667 karma

Hi, Mr. Spinney! The characters you portray have always been some of my favorite, and I'd like to thank you for the impact you had on my childhood. To what would you attribute the major success and longevity of Sesame Street?

CarollSpinney1191 karma

I think Sesame Street is fascinating to a lot of people, not just children. Because we tried to make it appealing to little children and to grownups. There's a period of time in children's lives where they don't like things they perceive as "made for babies." And my daughter, Jessie, loved the puppets until she was 9 or so. And then she sat with her friends, and they said "That's such a baby show." But when she got to be 13, or 14, she said she loved watching the show and got the jokes we put in for grownups.

So the children come back.

After a little period of saying "I'm a big girl now!" or "I'm a big boy now."

So we try to make the show great for EVERYBODY who wants to watch.

It's an age between 8-14, I think, where they have to feel that they're more "grown-up" than they really are.

ParkingLotRanger608 karma

What do you do when Oscar the Grouch and Big Bird have a scene together?

CarollSpinney892 karma

I generally pre-record Oscar's lines. And I'll get in the Bird. And with Oscar's voice pre-recorded, one of the other puppeteers will move Oscar so he can talk to Big Bird.

ParkingLotRanger513 karma

Thanks. I also wonder, was that actually you riding the unicycle wearing the Big Bird costume? If so, how difficult was that?

CarollSpinney1100 karma


I find unicycles very difficult to ride, but I can ride it.

That was a TOY unicycle, too!

Spoonsy574 karma

How does it feel to be such a large part of so many people's childhoods?

CarollSpinney848 karma

It feels wonderful.

I meet many people, and often they express how happy they are whenever the show was on, and that Big Bird was truly a friend of theirs. And they talk about their childhood, how much it meant to them.

amanderper471 karma

Hey there Caroll! Love all the amazing work you've done over the years! Big Bird has quite the acting resume (from SNL appearances to a Birdman parody). What's the weirdest appearance that you've made as Big Bird?

CarollSpinney1370 karma

Well, one time I was in Georgia, at a small TV station, surrounded by children - Big Bird was sitting on an ottoman - and his pupil let go, and left him with one eye with a black pupil, and one eye blank white! I saw what happened on a monitor, through some feathers we pulled off, and I said "Oh you better stop!"

Well, there I am on television, and one eye is blank. And I said "You can't show this! You'll have to stop." It wasn't live TV, it was on tape, and they wouldn't stop, so I said "I have to apply a new eye" and they said "No, we think it's funny!" and I said "No - It's barbaric - the kids are saying Big Bird's eye fell out!"

It's never just a puppet.

Because I feel that's diminishing what Big Bird does. He's not just a puppet.

orangejulius437 karma

What was Jim Henson like in real life? Could you share your favorite moment with him?

What was the most emotional moment for you as Big Bird?

Remember the Republican "War on Big Bird" when they wanted to cut funding for PBS? I don't think I've ever seen a party reverse course that fast in my entire life on an issue. Seeing as Big Bird seems to be a Big Yellow Political Heavy Weight - can we expect to see Big Bird run for President in 2016?

CarollSpinney804 karma

Well, he was a genius. He brain was always going a million miles an hour. And often we'd have lunch with him, and he wouldn't talk too much about what he was doing that day, he'd talk about future projects. We had fun driving with him in London. He had a Lotus Elite, a very fancy 4 passenger Lotus car made in England, and it was painted Kermit the Frog green. He selected that because it had hidden headlights, and when you turned on the eyes, the headlights popped up, they were round like Kermit's eyes, and they had a black dot with a curved line going through it, just like Kermit's! And it was the EXACT same color of the Kermit suit, the famous earlier one. And Jim liked to drive fast. That car had quite a history, even though it was only a day old! Jim went to pick it up and they said "We can't give it to you, it's just been stolen!"

Before Jim could pick it up!

And they used it to rob a bank.

And they caught the people within the hour, and he had the car given to him later that afternoon.

So we rode in that car, in London with him, and we were in the city, we were on city streets, we went between traffic lights we went 60 miles an hour, hahaha!

Well, one time Big Bird ran for President in the late 70's. Course, he's only six years old - he was six years old then, and he's still six years old now. And of course, he'd rather be king anyway. Hahaha!

Frajer408 karma

why did Snuffy go from someone only Big Bird can see to everyone seeing him ?

CarollSpinney601 karma

Well, for some time, they had a lot of people who were objecting to the fact that people weren't believing Big Bird. Because you should believe, and children don't lie (I don't think that's always necessarily true - when I was a child, although I tried to be a good kid) - anyways, they decided it was better for everybody to see it. Because Snuffy was REAL.

The only trouble, I felt, was if you missed the Thursday show, you missed everybody seeing Big Snuffy. So on Friday, he was standing around talking to everybody, and they said "What happened!?" if they didn't watch it on Thursday. I think they should have had 1-2 of them discover Snuffy, to explain what it's like not to be believed when you see something you know is true.

PainMatrix373 karma

There was just a news story saying how you were basically next in line for the Challenger mission. How close did you actually come to going?

CarollSpinney785 karma

Well, it wasn't that I was in line. I had gotten a request from the Astronauts who were going up for the next journey for one of the shuttles. And they wanted Big Bird to go up there, so children from America would be more interested in the NASA space program - because they couldn't compete with Star Wars very well.

That's what they told me in their letter.

So I said "yes!"

Unfortunately, there was no room in the space shuttle for Big Bird to go.

And a teacher went instead.

chris0820334 karma

Most difficult thing while puppeteering?

CarollSpinney664 karma

Most difficult while puppeteering? Well...often, the puppeteer's arm gets tired. Because the puppet has some weight. And also, besides the weight of the thing, is when you're singing a song, and some words are said over and over (as songs can do) - your thumb gets tired, and can slow down! So it gets, sometimes I've had some songs where my thumb went dead on live television. So that wasn't very comfortable. My thumb ceased to work!

FrankHamer279 karma

How has the puppets/costumes and the process of making them changed and advanced over your career? Any advancements you're particularly impressed by?

CarollSpinney765 karma

Well, the early Big Bird legs were made out of a fabric that had plastic in it - a dangerous fabric - and all of a sudden, a lamp smashed, almost hit me, and the 2,000 watt bulb had TREMENDOUS heat, and it set Big Bird's leg on fire! I looked down, I see flames coming up into the suit - because there's a hoop I can look down and see my feet - and so I said "I'm on FIRE!" and it was the beginning of the show, so Big Bird was strapped to me - and now he's on fire - so one of the camera men, they didn't have any extinguishers around (they do now) - Richie King, the camera man, he's no longer a camera man, but he saved my life by smashing out the flames with his bare hands!

So now we use much safer fabrics.

pm_me_your_sexy_legs271 karma

Oscar, you are such a grouch. I loved that show as a child. Do you still enjoy it the same as you did when you first started?

CarollSpinney523 karma

Oh yes. I love having a chance to be miserable. And Slimey! He's a really great little worm. He's learned to talk, you know.

Wermuth1984245 karma

I feel like Follow That Bird is an underrated Sesame Street production. Do you recall anything from the screenplay that didn't make it to the finished film?

CarollSpinney259 karma

It's so funny - we love Debbie's (my wife's) family, and her family came up to Toronto when we were doing a production in that region. I told the stage manager - we were filming outdoors in the sun, that we'd like my mother in law and Debbie's sister Claudia with our little niece (I love all the children in Debbie's family, they're all great kids) - they were supposed to be extras in the film, watching Big Bird in a parade. I put them over where they would be seen by the camera, so they could see they were in the movie. And the stage manager said "I want to move them to a better place" and he moved them a place where they were NEVER seen at all!


cisco54232 karma

How did you come up with the Big Bird 'snoring' routine? (I still use it when I'm looking after little kids. I pretend I'm asleep and do the Big Bird snore. It never gets old.)

CarollSpinney299 karma

Haha! Well, I didn't plan to do it. I had read the script of course, to remember it, and this was in the very early days of Sesame Street. I've never been able to talk like Donald Duck, he makes a quackquack noise out of the noise of his mouth - and I couldn't make that sound, so I didn't plan to do it, but as I did the rehearsal, I said to myself "A bird would probably sound different snoring than a human."

So I tried going snorrrrrt-whrrr-whrrr-whrr-whrrrrr!

Out of the corner of your mouth, and shake your face, it makes it break into the sound of whrrr-whrrr-whrr-whrrrrr!

I can't really do it today!

But the rest is history.

Little children love to say "Can you make the sound of Big Bird snoring please?"

hichiro16226 karma

Hi Carroll-

What is your take on the 'Goodbye Mr. Hooper' episode? We were able to see the expressions on everybody else's face during that scene but I'm curious as to how it affected you. Was it difficult to emulate the emotions everyone else's faces showed using a puppet?

Thank you

CarollSpinney404 karma

Well, I feel that I can show all kinds of emotions through Big Bird, through that puppet. I'm very emotional myself. And there wasn't a dry eye in the house during that scene, including me. When I finished the scene, it was a fairly long scene but shorter in the movie, it just... after I've done a long scene, the first thing I do is get out, and my face was wet with tears, and so were all the actors. The woman named Elena, who played Olivia in the movie, she's passed now, but she said "When Big Bird said 'But it's so SAD!' - that's it, I just lost it. I started bawling my head off."

Because we loved him. It's losing Will Lee. What a lovely man he was.

GMan85174 karma

Hello Mr. Spinney. First off, I would like to say that I just watched "I Am Big Bird" last night and it was fantastic. As both a Muppet fan and a documentary fan, this was both a treat and a new favorite of mine. I have two questions for you: 1) When you were approached with the idea of a documentary being made about you, what were your initial reactions to the project? 2) Is there any way I could request a personal Big Bird drawing or purchase one of your other Big Bird drawings?

Also, I'm really glad you did a "Birdman" spoof video. Thank you for all the smiles.

CarollSpinney287 karma

1.) First they asked Sesame Street if they would like them to make a movie about my life. And that was Copperpot Pictures, a small company, 3 men who run it. And we met there, and I said "Yes!" And I think it was a good time to do it, because I've been doing it so long, I have a lot of stories to tell. And I'd rather do it while I'm alive.

2.) If you go to Art & Framing, in Putnam, Connecticut, it's the only place that sells my things, and they are very reasonable. I did have a place in Hawaii, they were very expensive and I thought they were charging too much.

pixelinaa165 karma

welcome to reddit!!!! I am a huge fan of yours <3 thank you for stopping by... Any cool behind the scene stories you will always keep close to your heart?

CarollSpinney511 karma

We were in a different studio, doing a special show, and this girl came up to me, and she had her little cousin on her hip - she was only 3 years old - and I started chatting with her.

And I was falling in love with her. Turns out I'd met her before, but I'm not good at recognizing people at all.

Turns out we met 3 different times, and each time, I didn't know it was the same girl.

Turns out we ended up together anyway.

Getting to be Big Bird was the second greatest thing that ever happened to me. She's the number one.

mingeonyourface161 karma

What's the most memorable/funniest moment that's happened to you on set?

CarollSpinney312 karma

I guess the most memorable was the story we did about Mr. Hooper's death.

That was not the funniest. Let's see, funniest, hard to say? It's hard to remember individual shows, since I've done over 4,000 shows, and all of them, we try to be funny, so they're generally pretty funny.

It's hard to picture one where I laughed so hard I didn't move!

Often, some of the laughter as we're working is the stuff that we're fooling around with between scenes.

TheOffTopicBuffalo114 karma

My co-worker was the puppeteer for "Bear" in the Bear in the Big Blue house stage show. He has shown me how the puppet worked in that the head was opperated with one arm, and the other arm was the actual arm of Bear.

How is the puppet for big bird designed?

CarollSpinney177 karma

He's built in the same workshop as Big Bird. The Bear was played by Noel McNeil, and he's a good friend. And he used to be my wrangler, the guy that helped me get into The Bird, you know, take care of The Bird. He's a very clever way. He probably wore bear feet - the suits work in the same way - so I'd put on my bird feet first, they're built like pants with feet like a bird. And then the bird is all one beast. The rest of him is lowered over me, and I reach up with my right hand and go into the head with my hand. And that's how the Bear works, too! His hand goes up into the head, and his left arm goes into the left arm of the bear. Mine is left wing. So I can run the right hand wing, and he could run the bear, the same method -- a little piece of fine fishing line you can hardly see. So when you pull the left hand down, the right hand goes up. It's like see-saws!

binnyzhan113 karma

You made my childhood, thank you! I have a distinct memory as a kid of my mom taking me out to lunch and to go see Follow that Bird, and then crying a lot for the rest of the day because I was really bothered by what happened to Big Bird. Did you ever feel that the plot for that movie was too dark?

CarollSpinney162 karma

Well, it's funny, when we did it, it didn't occur to me that him being painted blue would be so sad for children!

When we'd finished the film, we had an early copy sent to us on videotape. We played it for our little nephew, Joshua.

And when he was painted blue, Joshua freaked out! He just cried, and cried, and cried. And we had to turn off the movie. And even to this day - he's in his 30's - he can't watch that movie, because it's so sad!

But I love that movie.

Not every child reacted as sadly as Josh did. But I think - I know when he was in the cage, I went to see the movie while we were in Australia, when he was caught - then the next time you see him, he's painted blue so no one would recognize him - now I think about it, having seen that much crying, I was surprised that I didn't see it would be sad.

But it has a very happy ending!

yeknom02110 karma

What would you say has been your most challenging moment when performing as Big Bird?

CarollSpinney219 karma

I think some of the biggest challenges were - I would conduct symphony orchestras that were children's introductions to symphonies, and I would also sing during those, so I would do 5 different things during that hour and ten minute show!

It was TOTALLY exhausting.

I almost fell off the stage at one of those shows, because I can't see well.

But one of the times it possibly could've killed me, because it was a 7 foot drop, and I would've landed on these metal chairs whose legs were sticking up stacked.

moosepaw11109 karma

Hey Oscar, why are you such a grouch?

CarollSpinney259 karma

Well, it's my trade.

I'm a Grouch by trade.

I was just born that way, I guess.

Like my grumpy uncle.

CarollSpinney255 karma

I do have a cousin who's not the same as the rest of us. He's not grouchy.

His name is "Smiling George."

But we can't all be perfect!

theArnoldFans1102 karma

Were you a fan of the work of Frank Oz and the Yoda character? Are you a star wars fan?

CarollSpinney198 karma

Frank Oz is an incredible puppeteer. Sometimes he'll put on the puppet, say one or two lines, and then you're on the floor. He's such a serious man, that sometimes he'll put on the puppet, and it's just magic!

He can think of so many funny things to say.

notyouraverageidiot102 karma

Hello Carroll! Thanks for many years of edu-tainment not just for myself, but also my 5 year old son.

One question, just how much room is there in Oscar's garbage can anyway?!

CarollSpinney199 karma

Well, it seems to have as much room as we want to imagine! Because an elephant lives down there, and a funny little dog, who was very grumpy, but he hasn't been on for 10 years... a swimming pool... a bowling alley... how could you have all that in a trash can?

I don't know! But he claims he does, and he believes it! Hahaha!

amanderper100 karma

What's your favorite non-Muppet species of bird?

CarollSpinney170 karma

Hahaha. I dunno. I think Chickadees? We have a lot of Chickadees where we live in the country. We were there all winter, and we would hear them call in the spring "Chicka-dee-dee-dee-dee!"

They're very little.

MarshalGrover98 karma

"I Love Trash" and "ABCDEFG..." are standards of your characters. Are there some songs by them that you like that aren't particularly as popular?

CarollSpinney142 karma

Oh, I've done over 300 songs, original songs, on Sesame Street! I don't write them, I just try to sing them. And one I really like, and Big Bird started the show with it one day sings

Good Morning Mr. Sun!

And it's such a jolly song, children love it. And the Alphabet song was one of his most popular songs.

TheNillaGorilla81 karma

Hi Mr. Spinney!

What job could you see yourself doing if you were never to become a Puppeteer?

CarollSpinney156 karma

Well, I'm an artist. I draw every day.

I guess I would have been a commercial artist. I had a comic strip when I was in the military, and I guess i would've continued doing that comic strip. It was a pretty good one. I loved looking at the funnies in the paper. So I think I could've gotten a job doing that.

mesotiran78 karma

You must have one of the most fun jobs in the world for so long! Do you ever plan to hang up the feathers (please say no)?

CarollSpinney172 karma

Well, NO!

I suppose when I can't make him sound right? But my father lived to be very old, and his voice didn't change at all. In the end, I'd call him and say "How are you dad?" and he'd say "Oh, son, I'm fine."

So I might not feel like doing it in my 90's. But I hope that doesn't happen!

Wermuth198473 karma

Back when you performed Bruno the Trashman, how were you able to see what you were doing when performing the character?

CarollSpinney115 karma

Well, I could see right out of - he was made of foam plastic, his face, and real cloth for his clothes - but I could see right out from where his eyes would be, right through the foam plastic. It's porous. So I could see. So I could see where I was going and everything. And my hands were actually inside the trashcan, held against his tummy!

kimnrowdy70 karma

I've loved watching you over the years on Sesame Street. Thank you for making the world a better place for children and adults. I've got two questions 1- I wonder, how have Oscar and Big Bird and your other characters changed you for the better and improved your life? 2- In your opinion, what are the most important qualities of a puppeteer?

CarollSpinney129 karma

Good questions but difficult.

Eeet ees deefeecult!

Well, I think nobody has a job they truly love doing. And that's one reason why people say "how come you want to stay with the show so long?"

Well, I can't imagine a job that's so enjoyable. That I truly love.

And so I think that's changed me into a very happy person.

Well, it doesn't matter if you're shy, because most puppetry is done while you're hiding.

If you're shy, you can still be a puppeteer. So you can speak up, because nobody's looking at you, they're looking at the puppet.

I think it's a good idea to have a good sense of humor. And to learn how to do it, I'd practice in front of a mirror. To see if the puppet looks alive, and doing what you want him to appear like - or a monitor - years ago, I set up my first tv camera I bought, back in the late 70's, and they gave you little cords to connect it to a TV set, so I could see what I was doing with the puppet sitting with the camera and feeding it to my TV, so I could study the way he looked from the audience's point of view.

brownmlis69 karma

Hi. First I want to thank you for your many years of dedication to Big Bird and children everywhere. Although it seems like Big Bird has not changed, what are some of the biggest behind the scenes changes (material or character wise) that Big Bird has undergone?

CarollSpinney127 karma

Well, when Big Bird was first on, he wasn't very good looking.

He didn't have any feathers above his eyes. The top of his head, nothing was there! Didn't look like there was room for any brain, really. Now the features are applied much more beautifully, and he's much prettier now.

JessTheDress62 karma

What is your favorite post-Sesame Street meal?

CarollSpinney112 karma

Well, we have a favorite restaurant near here. It's an Italian restaurant. And my favorite dish there is a DELICIOUS filet mignon, covered with gorgonzola sauce. Oh my goodness!

CarollSpinney117 karma

I'd never heard of a gorgonzola sauce. Gorgonzola is a type of blue cheese. It doesn't smell so good when it's just a cheese. But when they make it into a sauce, it's the most wonderful sauce I ever tasted.

Maybe we can go there to have lunch after this.

CarollSpinney138 karma

They make it for me anytime of the day, because I don't like eating later in the evening, usually.

So even though it's on the nighttime menu, they'll make it for me, even if it's 1 pm, or 3 pm. Which is pretty nice.

Ripamaru61 karma

What's the worst part of your job?

CarollSpinney123 karma

Once in a while, my hand has fallen asleep.

The worst part is waiting. And the loooong drive. It's my own fault for moving down here, only because I'm a country boy and I have a lovely country place that I bought for $40 an acre. It didn't sell very well, because a farmer would starve on it - it's all rock, every time you try to dig to plant something, there's a rock. And it's 150 miles from anywhere - commuting for 45 years! I don't come down every day, I come down, spend a week, and then drive home. I don't know what I'd do if I had to come each day, because it's almost 3 hours each way.

thegillinator60 karma

Hi Caroll, thanks for being an important part of both my childhood and my kids'! Do you get recognized much in public, either by name, voice, or looks?

CarollSpinney118 karma

Well, sometimes I've been recognized because I'll go to a hotel desk in California, and they'll say "What is your name" and I'll say "Carroll Spinney" and they said "OH WOW!"

Most children - babies, particularly - recognize me by my voice.

And lately, this past month, I've had 4 people recognize me because of the movie I AM BIG BIRD.

unolove59 karma

how did u get the gig? did you even think it would last this long?

CarollSpinney139 karma

I don't think anybody could have guessed that the TV show would last so long. We're just finishing our 46th year. That's a LONG run. And I'm so glad we've still go the run going!

I was doing a show, at a puppet festival, and Jim Henson was scouting for someone to play Big Bird and Oscar, and I was right there. He decided I could do what he wanted me to do, and I got the job!

TheGreatPastaWars50 karma

Does sesame street write all the music for their guests? Some of them are really good.

CarollSpinney84 karma

Sometimes, if there are singer guests, they will come and sing a song that we know that they've done, and we'll have them do their song. But usually all the songs that WE sing are original.

WhyDoges48 karma

Who was the most memorable guest star?

CarollSpinney129 karma

Well, for me, it was probably Waylon Jennings, because we got to be such good friends. He was a famous country singer. He was hired to play the Turkey Truck Driver in FOLLOW THAT BIRD, when I tried to hitchhike back to Sesame Street. And I spent 2 days in that truck with Waylon. And after that, I said "You have to come do Sesame Street and sing a song!"

And he did, and he wrote a song for him and Oscar to sing, and that song was called "Wrong."

Oscar loves to say you're WRONG, but usually he says "Ding-dong, you're WRONG."

And with this, he had his own song!

____DEADPOOL_______39 karma

Does the costume smell bad on the inside?

CarollSpinney64 karma

No. I don't sweat much. Even when I did sweat, it didn't get on the suit to make it smell bad. I don't sweat as in "You should take a shower RIGHT NOW!" - Big Bird is very open, and the shoulder things that hold it up are the only things that really touch me.

Cunt51 karma

Who is your favorite character on sesame street?

CarollSpinney1 karma

I guess Big Bird, hahaha!

I'm biased.