Wednesday, November 19, 2014

S Is for a Second Chance

Back when we did the letter F, I talked about a Fraggle, Cantus the Minstrel. So for S, I'm going to cheat a bit so I can mention another F character: Frazzle!

I've been thinking about Frazzle a little bit lately because of my posts about Prairie Dawn and Roosevelt Franklin, where I talked about Sesame Street characters that I wish had gotten more attention. Frazzle has never been a main character, but I'm always charmed by his appearances.

Frazzle is one of the Sesame Street monsters, and he's particularly scary because he can't speak, he can only snarl and roar. But he has the same emotions as everyone else, and beneath his pointy teeth and angry eyes are a childlike demeanor and a desire to be included.

Here's a typical Frazzle appearance dealing with the character's emotional state:

I don't really remember Frazzle much from actually watching the show. He first came to my attention a few years ago, when I was listening to all of the early Sesame Street albums (the best ones are from the early 70s). One that stood out to me was the 1975 album The Sesame Street Monsters: A Musical Monster-osity, which featured the song "Frazzle." This was also done as a segment on a 1978 episode, with the Frazzletones (performed by Christopher Cerf, Richard Hunt and Jerry Nelson) singing about Frazzle's emotions.

The reason I find Frazzle so touching and necessary is that, during my years as a substitute teacher, I very often found myself working in resource. Resource is what they used to refer to as "special needs." So I was working with kids who had significant mental handicaps and/or developmental difficulties, and I encountered a number of kids who were nonverbal. One kid I especially remember, about 6 or 7 years old, used to unpredictably snap and then grab your hair and not let go. He couldn't stop doing it; it was some kind of a developmental thing I've never entirely understood. He couldn't really speak, he'd just make sounds, some of them loud and sudden, and that was the sort of thing that scared other kids. But he had the same emotions as any other kid.

So when I think of those kids that I worked with, I think of Frazzle: a nonverbal character who seemed scary and different, but really just wanted to be included and who had the same emotions as everyone else. That's a sort of character that Sesame Street doesn't touch on very often: someone with genuine cognitive and functional setbacks. But Frazzle stands in for a lot of those kids, and that's why I love him.

Here's one more video with Frazzle, appearing with Grover, Herry and Cookie Monster for "Fuzzy and Blue."

Stay true to yourself, Frazzle!

ABC Wednesday


Roger Owen Green said...

I don't specifically remember him. But your story was very telling.

Leslie: said...

I remember watching Sesame Street with my kids when they were little and then we moved on to the Muppets et al. Good memories!

mrsnesbitt said...

I too am a teacher and know the power of puppets - I had a dog I used in class - called Bernard - what fun we had. I have said this before to you - Fozzie is my favourite. I loved that bear.

Denise ABC Team

Trubes said...

What a cute fellow he is, My eldest daughter was scared of him when she was about 4 and hid behind the settee when he appeared, although I don't remember seeing much of him.
I laughed at Donald Duck's antics in the snow.
thank you for cheering me up on a wet and windy day in the good old UK.
Best wishes,
ABCW team.

Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil said...

SamFrog, first off, seeing Grover and Frazzle together is a treat. Grover was always my main muppet. I didn't know Frazzle well until this post, so thank you! I was in high school when the Muppets and Sesame Street came on the air, and I "got" that sensibility immediately.

I admire your work with special needs students and agree that non-verbal students need all the role models they can get. Frazzle is fun and so endearing... and non-threatening to students. Good for you.

This post was a blast, as well as a blast from the past! So glad I found you on ABC! Peace, Amy

Dani H said...

Like Amy, Grover was always my favorite! And, I was also in high school when the Muppets came on the scene. I'm afraid I don't remember Frazzle at all, so I appreciate your post and the video clips.

I found you through Amy/Sharp Little Pencil and I'm so happy she shared your post.

Take care.