Like most new parents, I watch a lot of Sesame Street. Elmo, Grover and Cookie Monster were ever-present in my childhood, so it was only natural that Liam, my 14-month-old son, would come to love the show and what it represents.
But a funny thing happened as I spent time with him on Sesame Street's YouTube channel: 10-minute video breaks intended to soothe a cranky kid ... turned into something I'd seek out for a mental break. As it turns out, yes, Sesame Street is enjoyable when you have adult responsibilities — maybe even more enjoyable than it was when I was a kid.
Here's are 8 reasons to watch (and really enjoy) Sesame Street as an adult:
1. Ricky Gervais: My favorite from the Sesame Street channel, and one that Liam and I agree on. The concept is simple: Ricky has been tasked with singing a lullaby that'll put Elmo to bed. But Ricky wants to turn it up to 11 ... and you know where this is going. When Ricky rocks out, Liam bops along, but it's the comedian's subtle jokes about celebrity, along with knowing winks to the camera, that get me every time.
2. Adam Sandler: If you love "The Hanukkah Song," then you'll get a kick out of Sandler's visit to Sesame Street. The concept is simple: the comedian/actor/singer makes up a song based solely off words that rhyme with Elmo — with some adult references mixed in for parents. This will be stuck in your head for days.
3. Robin Williams: The late comedian teaches a valuable lesson about conflict. The video has all the hallmarks of a classic Robin Williams bit: the creativity, the gesticulating ... he just happens to be talking to a furry, two-headed monster. For those of us who grew up laughing at Robin's jokes, this is a wonderful reminder of his talent and big heart.
4. Andrea Bocelli: C'mon, just listen to that voice. And Elmo sings like an angel!
5. Jimmy Fallon and the Roots: There's just so much going on in this video. Who else could jam themselves in a small room, with puppets, pick up classroom instruments and produce a genuinely funny piece of music that's been viewed over 6.5 million times on YouTube. Come for Count von Count counting them off at the top, and stay for the lyrics: "Big Bird is out, he's in the house, he turning up with Snuffleup, they really getting their hustle up."
6. Usher: If Ricky is Liam's favorite YouTube video, then this is a close second. Usher is an incredibly talented human being, and his skills are on full display here: singing, dancing, interacting with non-living beings — all seemingly without effort, of course.
7. Feist: This clip has been viewed an impressive 53 million times on YouTube. The singer, birth name Leslie Feist, is a member of one of my favorite indie rock groups, Broken Social Scene. This is my subtle attempt to get a 14-month-old interested in my music. Shhhhhhhh...
8. Elvis Costello: Liam doesn't understand what Elvis is singing about — heck, sometimes I have trouble figuring out what Elvis is singing about. But as someone who loves his music, this more than makes up for the fact that I haven't had a chance to see him live in concert. Plus, Elmo has a matching Elvis Costello hat!
So, even though screen time isn't recommended until age two, my wife and I have decided that it's better to have a happy child who watches 10 minutes of Sesame Street videos than a cranky 14-month-old and stressed-out parents.
And hey, if I get some fun time out of it, then that's a bonus!