My grand daughter, Ryan, and I watch Elmo frequently. Actually, we watch the same three Elmo DVDs in her library. Her favorite is “Opposites”.
My favorite is “Potty Time” which was our mutual favorite last year when Ryan entered the wonderful world of toilet skills. Now that she’s skilled, this “Potty Time” video doesn’t have the same compelling significance. She looks at me like I’m nuts when I suggest “Potty Time” as if I’m so “yesterday”.
Opposites has a character, a friend of Elmo’s, named Mr. Noodle. Bill Irwin plays Mr. Noodle. Bill’s an amazing actor who recently portrayed the father in “Rachel Getting Married”. Today, he’s on Broadway in the Samuel Beckett play “Waiting for Godot”. Bill makes Ryan laugh. His Mr. Noodle shows Elmo and the kids, who give him directions in the background, how to or in Mr. Noodle’s case, not do certain basic tasks like open a backpack, use a see saw, and dance at various speeds.
What makes Mr. Noodle so cool is his ability to laugh at himself and help children feel smarter. Remember “Mr. Bill” on Saturday Night Live? The “claymation character? Mr. Bill and Mr. Noodle must be related. They both seem to end their routines in chaos although Mr. Bill’s endings are a bit too violent for the Elmo scene…
Sometimes, when we watch Mr. Noodle, I ask Ryan if she likes Mr. Noodle. She smiles and nods and then I like to add that I like noodles, too. Ryan likes Chinese noodles with veggies from Bo Ling’s Restaurant on 95th and Quivera. Someday, when Ryan is older, I’d like to take her to see “Waiting for Godot”. But right now, there’s something very cosmic about Mr. Noodle and I believe Bill Irwin knew that when he took the part.