Traumafession:: Chanter on Sesame Street’s Stranger On The Field

Hi again Kindertrauma,

It’s been a while since I’ve sent in a Traumafession, so I figure it’s time for another episode of ‘Bizarre Snippets That Terrified Tiny Chanter’. Not surprisingly, this one’s a Sesame Street short, specifically Stranger On The Field.

Watching this particular clip now, it’s painfully clear it was made in the ’80’s – oh wow, the music! I knew nothing of songs dating themselves when I was a tiny, though. All I knew was that the keys this particular song was played in creeped me out, and that effect hasn’t diminished much to this day. Holy cow is it ever ominous! I didn’t have the vocabulary to explain it then, but that’s precisely the feeling it evokes. That’s not the worst of it, though the foreboding reaction is plenty bad on its own.

I can’t find the bit that truly terrified me anywhere, and I’ve tried combing cyberspace for it. No luck. There must be two versions of this sketch out there. I would swear to you that in one, after one boy says ‘give him a chance, let’s see what he can do’, the same, or at least a similar, voice to the one expositing about the stranger being given a look of dooooooom (gah, that’s creepy too!) speaks over near-silence. He’s calling the game, but in the tones of Dr. Claw of Inspector Gadget infamy. The sound of that monsterish voice snarling ‘strike one, strike two’… tiny Chanter was suitably frightened to the soles of her slip-on shoes, I can assure you.

At least the last few lines redeem the song a bit, but there’s the eerie key to factor in yet. This always unsettled me as a little girl, and it hasn’t stopped doing so to this day. I may have the vocabulary to explain why now, but the fact remains–brrrrrr!

Does anyone else remember the extended sketch, or did I concoct it somehow? Maybe this short really did rattle tiny me so badly that my brain distorted it to worst effect. I don’t think so, though.

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9 years ago

Dear Chanter:

I understand completely. There’s something about shoddy children’s entertainment that sends chills up my spine the way no George Romero film ever could.

I am older than you, and got the first wave of cheaply made Sesame Street shorts. There were some classics of course, such as Grover as a waiter, in which he drives a generic blue guy customer crazy.

Then there are some that creeped me out as a kid. I won’t say what it was because then you’ll be creeped out too, but it had to do with the letter S. I was so creeped out that if future episodes said they were going to be sponsored by the letter S, I’d turn the TV off for an hour. I think I left another kid’s house once.

I feel your pain. -Tom