Laugh all you want but Elmo is real. He (and we’re assuming Elmo’s a he ’cos Elmo always refers to himself as Elmo) may be a furry red puppet but he’s the most real furry red puppet you’ll ever meet. 8 DAYS is waiting for the Sesame Street (also real) resident at the Conrad Centennial, and we hear Elmo is on his way back from the Singapore Zoo, which he had spent the entire morning touring. The three-and-a-half-year-old monster is in town for Sesame Workshop’s #ShareTheLaughter campaign, a movement that hopes to spread kindness around the world. Before Singapore, Elmo was in the Philippines and Thailand.
Prior to our meeting with him, we had been asked to submit our questions for the monster. One question: “Are Bert and Ernie really just friends?” was of course rejected.
Accompanying Elmo is his puppeteer Ryan Dillon, who is not only the voice but also the soul behind one of the most popular pop culture characters in the world. After all, famed puppeteer Frank Oz once said, “When a puppet is true and good and meaningful, it’s the soul of the puppeteer you’re seeing.” And there are few puppets as true, good and meaningful as Elmo.
Elmo is now sitting on the couch in front of us. (In case you’re wondering, he’s propped up by Ryan, who’s sitting on the floor). Elmo’s much bigger than we expected. He’s also a lot furrier, like an Elmo plush toy that’s been hugged and played with too many times. Meeting Elmo is like seeing an old friend with whom you’ve lost touch over the years. We may not have anything in common anymore (we have long mastered the alphabet) but years of watching Sesame Street as a kid alone at home while our mum and dad were at work also means that there’s a kind of enduring familiarity between us.
We’ve always wanted to meet Elmo. It’s just that after we grew up and got on with life, we kinda forgot about our wish. But now that he’s right in front of us, we decided it’s time to ask the question we’d always wanted to ask Elmo as a kid.
“Can I touch you?” we say to Elmo, in a not-creepy way, we swear.
“Of course, you can! Elmo doesn’t mind!” the furry red monster suddenly giggles in his trademark falsetto.
And just like that, we’re a kid all over again.