Are You Smarter Than a Muppet?

Each day next week, on the syndicated game show, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, host Jeff Foxworthy will welcome a different special guest co-host—all of whom you will recognize from their regular TV home, Sesame Street. Grover, Bert, Zoe, Prairie Dawn and Cookie Monster will each take a turn as Foxworthy’s second banana, and I, for one, will be watching.

When the Sesame Muppets get let off the public television leash, you know you’re in for surprises. If you’ve never seen any of our fuzzy and/or felt-skinned friends outside of their preschool-friendly environs, do a little Web surfing for video clips. You’ll find Elmo getting into a burping contest with the host of Australian talk show, Rove Live. You’ll hear Cookie Monster on The Colbert Report, talking about his wild, pastry-binging days of the '80s and calling himself “the Robert Downey, Jr of Sesame Street."

Of course, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? is already relatively family-friendly. The show tests adults (many of whom seem like they should still be watching Sesame Street) on their memory of elementary school knowledge, and allows them to get assistance from real fifth-graders in the studio. These contestants will be ripe targets for Muppets with the freedom to exercise their more sarcastic edge a little bit.

One early complaint, though: Prairie Dawn? For decades, her only function was that of the token female Muppet. Personality has not exactly been her strong point. Why no Abby Cadabby? Now, there’s a girl who can bring some laughs. Oh well, maybe Prairie Dawn will surprise us with some as-yet-unseen wit—or better yet, surprise the contestant. That would be television worth watching.

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