|Sesame Street character|
|Created by||Frank Oz|
|Portrayed by||Frank Oz (1970–1998; occasionally since 1998)
Eric Jacobson (1998–present)
|United Nations Global Road Safety Ambassador|
April 12, 2011
Serving with Michelle Yeoh
Grover, also known as Grover Monster, is a puppet character on the popular television show Sesame Street. Self-described as lovable, cute and furry, he is a blue monster who rarely uses contractions when he speaks or sings. Grover was originally performed by Frank Oz from his earliest appearances until 2001. Eric Jacobson began performing Grover in 1998; he has performed the character regularly since 2001, although Oz still performs him occasionally but not usually.
A prototype version of Grover appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in a Christmas Eve appearance in 1967. This puppet had greenish-brown fur and a red nose. He also had a raspier voice, and was played a bit more unkempt than Grover would later behave. The monster was referred to as "Gleep", a monster in Santa's workshop. He later made a cameo appearance in The Muppets On Puppets in 1968 with the Rock and Roll Monster. In 1969, clad in a necktie, he appeared in the Sesame Street Pitch Reel in the board room sequences. During the first season of Sesame Street, the character was nicknamed "Fuzzyface" or "The Hairy One", though neither would be used for his actual name.
In an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show on May 31, 1970, the character acquired his present name and his appearance was changed to the more familiar puppet with blue fur and a pink nose. In this appearance, Kermit the Frog tried to sing "What Kind of Fool Am I?" (accompanying himself on piano), but Grover repeatedly interrupted him. The true Grover "officially" debuted in the second season of Sesame Street.
Another of the more frequent sketch segments featuring Grover involves him taking a series of customer service jobs. One of his customers is always Mr. Johnson, a balding, mustachioed customer who invariably becomes frustrated at Grover's poor service and/or his (Grover's) insistence that he is serving him properly.
The first Grover-Mr. Johnson series of sketches, set at "Charlie's Restaurant," aired in the early 1970s; here, Grover is employed as a waiter and Mr. Johnson is his customer. The sketches followed the same basic premise: Mr. Johnson would order a menu item, Grover would serve the customer, a disagreement results (usually) as a result of Grover's mistakes, and Grover attempting (often, more than once) to correct the mistake with varying degrees of success. Under this backdrop, the sketches served to teach the childhood audience basic concepts such as same and different, big and little, hot and cold, the alphabet, following directions and patience, among other things.
Repeats of the "Charlie's Restaurant" series of sketches aired for many years on Sesame Street. In the years since, new Grover-Mr. Johnson sketches have been produced, with Grover taking other customer service jobs and Mr. Johnson as his hapless customer. Every time, Mr. Johnson recognizes Grover as "that waiter from Charlie's." Grover's jobs have ranged from that of a taxi driver and a photographer to a flight attendant and singing telegram artist. One sketch parodied the ABC television series Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in a segment where Grover began remodeling Mr. Johnson's home against his express wishes. In another one, Mr. Johnson is the only patron for a production of Spider-Monster: The Musical, and Grover is the only actor; the play is of course a complete calamity and finally comes crashing down on the both of them.
Grover also has an instructional persona who wears a cap and gown to provide educational context for simple, everyday things. His lessons are often wrong, leaving himself open to correction by a group of children or Muppets. This, combined with the failings of the Super Grover character, means that Grover can be very self-conscious and timid. He is often a source of slapstick humor and often accidentally injures himself.
Early in the series, Grover would often greet Kermit the Frog by running up to him and yelling, "Hey, froggy babeee!" and then giving him a hard slap on the back, which knocked him over.
Global Grover is a more recent series of segments in which Grover hosts a trip to a foreign country to learn about their culture and customs.
In 2010, Grover starred in a parody of an Old Spice Commercial called "Smell Like a Monster" based on "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like", where a clam with "two tickets to the thing you love" bit his nose and he rode a cow rather than a horse.
Grover has a semi-secret superhero identity as the well-meaning but inept Super Grover, sometimes presented as the alter ego of Grover Kent, "ace doorknob salesman for Acme, Inc". Originally his superhero costume consisted of a pink cape and medieval knight's helmet, with a Superman-style crest on both the cape and his T-shirt, bearing a letter "G" on his chest instead of "S". During the 1970s and 1980s, Sesame Street ran a series of Super Grover sketches spoofing the classic Adventures of Superman series (in the opening of these, his name was hyphenated "Super-Grover"). An announcer (Jerry Nelson) introduced each episode with the lines:
"Presenting the further adventures of everybody's favorite hero/superhero. The man/monster who is faster than lightning, stronger than steel, smarter than a speeding bullet. It's... SUPER GROVER!"
With that, a fanfare sounds, Super Grover bursts through a paper wall bearing his crest, fruitlessly tries to move his helmet up off his eyes, and adds, "And I am cute, too!"
Announcer: And now, on to our story.
Super Grover: Yes! On to our story!
From there, episodes followed a simple formula: Super Grover is flying somewhere over Metro City when he hears the cries of a Muppet child in some small trouble and immediately sails in to assist. The excited child is quickly disillusioned as Super Grover crash-lands nearby. From there, Grover continues to be enthusiastic but no help whatsoever, his "dramatic" feats of strength or speed serving only to kill time while the child solves the problem on their own and wanders off. By then, Grover's efforts have usually landed him in a comical predicament of his own.
Super Grover has appeared in the Sesame Street theatrical films Follow that Bird (1985) and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999, wherein it's revealed he stretches his arms out and spins into his costume in homage to Wonder Woman), as well as the 1983 PBS special Don't Eat the Pictures.
For Sesame Street's 41st season in 2010, the character was revamped as Super Grover 2.0, who debuted on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, flying in and crash-landing behind the chair where he was meant to sit. His new costume consists of a helmet reminiscent of a Spartan or Centurion, a red cape, and a black rubber vest resembling bike racing gear. Both the cape and the vest are adorned with his crest, now with a lightning bolt added behind the "G". Of course, the helmet has a hinged visor which still tends to fall over Grover's eyes. But now the tagline is Super Grover 2.0 - He Shows Up!
"Grover's Mommy" plays an integral but often unrecognized role on Sesame Street. She has been seen almost exclusively in print, including the many illustrated books starring Grover. She was also occasionally seen in photographs, as a photo puppet, such as on the cover of Volume 4 of The Sesame Street Treasury. Over the course of time, her appearance has fluctuated greatly.
Her earliest known appearance as a Muppet is a 1970s sketch in which Grover speaks to the audience about being afraid of the dark. At the end of the sketch, his mom (Frank Oz) enters his room to kiss him goodnight. Another early appearance (circa 1981) involves his mother (Kathryn Mullen) coming into the bathroom while Grover is telling the audience about how to take a bath.
She has recently appeared (performed by Stephanie D'Abruzzo) in a brief Elmo's World sequence (from the "Families" episode), with her son as his alter-ego Super Grover, as her own alter-ego, "Super-Mommy". Grover crashlands, screaming "Moooommy!" and his mom follows yelling "Soooonny!" crashing on top of him. They recover, acknowledge each other, and both faint.
In the 1971 children's book The Monster at the End of This Book, Grover goes to great effort to keep the reader from turning the pages of the book, because there is a monster on the final page. Grover nails pages together and builds a brick wall to block access; at the end it is discovered that the monster at the end of the book is Grover himself, who is mortified ("Oh, I am so embarrassed..."). The late 90s saw a sequel to the book where Grover desperately tries to stop Elmo from reaching the end of the book, eventually directing him to leave the book and enter from the back. Therefore, when both of them reach the end, they wind up scaring each other.
Another popular children's book, Would You like to Play Hide & Seek in This Book with Lovable, Furry Old Grover?, had Grover trying different ways to hide from the reader, eventually getting upset and begging the reader to just say "no" he doesn't see him, even though he was just crouching down in a corner.
In 1974, Grover went on a learning expedition in Grover and The Everything In The Whole Wide World Museum. He tours rooms such as "The Long Thin Things You Can Write With Room", as well as "The Things That Make So Much Noise You Can't Think Room". Grover wanders through "The Things That are Light Room", returns a rock to "The Things That are Heavy Room", and just when he wonders whether it is possible to have a museum that holds everything in the whole wide world, he comes upon a door labeled "Everything Else", which opens to take him out into the world. As of 1996, Publishers Weekly ranked the book at seventy-nine on their list of best-selling children's paperbacks, and Lou Harry of Indianapolis Business Journal included the book on his list of twelve examples of how muppets have qualified as quality entertainment. It was written by Norman Stiles and Daniel Wilcox, and illustrated by Joe Mathieu.
The Adventures of Grover in Outer Space is a Sesame Street storybook featuring Grover that was published in 1984. When Grover Moved to Sesame Street was published in 1985. He was also featured in I Want a Hat Like That (1987, reprinted 1999).
Sesame Street is modified for different national markets, and Grover is often renamed.