Traumafesions/Name That Trauma :: Reader Chanter on Sesame Street Fires and Worrying Words

Hi Kindertrauma!

I recently stumbled across your site via another reader’s link, and now I easily lose time poking through the assorted archives. I never knew records of this type of thing existed! I’ve got a couple traumafessions of my own, and one hard-to-identify snippet that I’m sincerely hoping I didn’t dream… but almost equally hoping I never see again!

Silly as it may sound, all three of these are SESAME STREET sketches. I was an impressionable tiny geek with a gigantic imagination and a definite twitchy side – still am, too! I saw all these on Wisconsin Public Television in the late ’80’s or very early ’90’s, though they could easily have been recorded earlier and rerun. Both my clearly-remembered sketches had what was to me some seriously terrifying background music; intense, menacing minor key piano playing, brrrrr!

One featured a group of kids shouting in unison ‘Go to the exit!’ while an on-screen a someone or someones tried to find the way out of a house or building. I’m not sure, but the sketch itself might have been black and white. The off-screen kids repeated ‘go to the exit!’ at least a couple of times, and I distinctly remember one of them speaking up solo to warn ‘oh no, that’s a closet.’ Someone else might’ve murmured ‘wrong way dummies’ somewhere in there, but it didn’t much detract from the overall scariness of the thing! At the end, everyone apparently did get out, as the unison kids all yelled ‘yaaaaay!’ just before the scene changed. Didn’t help me feel any less creeped out, though!

The other began with a lower-voiced woman yelling ‘Help!’ at the top of her lungs, which was extremely jarring and terrifying if you weren’t expecting it! To this day, remembering that yell makes me shiver. I believe she yelled ‘help!’ a second time, though very slightly less in-your-face obviously do to the background music that had started up. The sketch itself had to do with a person getting rescued from what was very likely a burning building, because the woman narrator said something like ‘It looks like she needs some help’, and then later on ‘he’s a real swinger’, referencing the firefighter assisting whoever was trapped. I’m assuming everyone got out, but again, the sketch was plenty scary despite everyone being safe in the end!

Those are closer to traumafessions, but here’s the one I’m not sure whether or not I dreamed. I almost hope I did, although I remember sitting on the living room carpet in front of the T.V. and watching it on a warm morning. This one had to do with a specific sound rather than the meaning of a word. There’s odd, spare staccato trumpet and drum music in the background, and I’m not clear on the setting, but there may have been a desert on screen? A male narrator is repeating first the sound, and then short words all featuring -ut. ‘Hut’ comes to mind as one of them. At one point, he says something to the effect of ‘let’s try tut.’ A few seconds and a little of that same strange music later, he yells ‘tuuuuuut!’ This was the point where I ran into the other room and did my best to forget what I’d seen.

I have no idea what made the narrator yell like that, as my vision was crummy and my comprehension of what little I was seeing was even more so. I’ve just now realized that saying ‘tut’ may have invoked King Tut somehow, if it was truly a sketch set in a desert, and maybe brought a mummy walking out of the woodwork – stonework? That’s a true guess, though. Whatever it was, it scared and severely unnerved tiny!me, as did the other two. Brrrr!


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11 years ago

It’s amazing how many traumas find their genesis in either Sesame Street or The Electric Company. Their low-budget skits were very avant-garde and creepy, even for the 70’s.

No wonder it was traumatic for young kids; with a grasp on this reality that was far from firm, they were being subjected to an alternate reality, a surreal reality, that in many ways contradicted our own. Talk about a shock to the system.

And I’m STILL creeped out by those Sesame Street aliens that go “Yip, yip, yip, ba-rriiiiiinnnnng!” at the phone.

11 years ago

I like the aliens! When I was a little kid my uncle would do the ‘yip, yip, yip’ part and I would do the ‘nope, nope, nope’ part. Now, 30+ years later, he will still say it on occasion and look at me and smile. The aliens also did cow ‘mooooo’ sounds with that sideways-jaw action. Strange little puppets.

I always hated the ‘Hey you guys!’ at the beginning of The Electric Company. It always made me jump even though I knew it was coming. If I remember correctly there was another reader who disliked it as well.

I thought that one of the little girls at the end of the first clip was going to choke on her popcorn!

Brian Katcher
10 years ago

I think that picture of the burning Sesame Street just traumatized my four year old daughter.

1 year ago

I realize your post is 10 years old, but I immediately recognized the Exit skit!