Fuse #8

Monday, February 27, 2006

Decoding Bert's purple hand

A person can get introspective when they're making 50 caterpillars out of pipe cleaners. Is there a God? What is the ratio of people who buy pipe cleaners to clean pipes to people who use them in library craft projects? And what was the deal with Bert's purple hand?

I should explain. I'm at a party on Saturday in Brooklyn and I'm talking to a lawyer friend who is wearing black sequined pants and a shirt with a rainbow zipper. Of course, the subject naturally turns to Sesame Street. People of a certain age raised in a certain way tend to find PBS to be a cultural touchstone on which they can all comment. Normally such conversations spend more time parsing the finer aspects of Oscar the Grouch's relationship with Maria or why the group Mummenschanz seemingly appeared on every single children's television program (except possibly Reading Rainbow). Anyway, this conversation gets a little wonky because my lawyer friend brings up Bert's purple hand.

Those of you born between the years of 1974 to 1980, cast your minds back. Do you remember this particularly odd Sesame Street sketch? I have half a mind to rename my blog http://bert'spurplehand.blogspot.com just to ellicit some kind of explanation from someone. For those amongst us who remember it, it was a very odd and strange segment. Ernie wanted to go play outside but Bert wouldn't go because his hand, through some twist of fate or oddity of the universe, was purple.

Perhaps you don't care. Perhaps the colors of Bert's extremities leave you nonplussed. But if you remember this segment, please let me know. I think of it as a kind of litmus test for my generation. Remembering it says something about a person.


At 3:01 PM , Blogger Kim / POWER OF RUN said...

Yes, it is vaguely familiar!

At 12:27 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Like I said, it tickled an odd nerve ending in the brain. I could probably start my own little cult based solely around the Bert's Purple Hand episode. That's actually kind of fun to dream up....

At 12:34 AM , Blogger John L said...

I'm coming late to this post - but I remember this episode too! They never did explain why his hand was purple, which made it all the more mysterious. Maybe the Muppet builders lost one of Bert's hands one day, and as a purple hand was available, they decided to write a skit around it?
Also disturbing to me were the skits where Ernie would pull off Bert's nose and stick it back on. It seemed to defy some fundamental law of Muppet reality. Though I'm a diehard Ernie and Bert fan nonetheless.

At 12:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK! Funny... this blog validates that I'm not crazy. I too, found this site while looking for a picture of the infamous "purple hand" skit! I broke my foot recently and sometimes it is looking a bit "purple"! I keep talking about E and B going to the beach and people just don't seem to remember. We were the only ones watching that day??? Thanks for the fun! Check this out: http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Ernie_and_Bert_Sketches:_season_4

At 1:11 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I...I have a purple hand."

The way Bert delivers that line is classic. In fact, I loved it so much that, on occasion, if I need to think of a ridiculous excuse for something that's the one that pops into my head.

Didn't Bert's hand turn purple because of...ink? Maybe they'll rerun that episode on Noggin (if they're still running classic Sesame Street episodes).

So what's the deal? Did we all stumble onto this blog because we were searching for screencaps from this sketch? :)

At 8:43 PM , Blogger mary fran said...



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