Monday, February 1, 2010

Count von Count-Making Stoners Laugh For Nearly 40 Years

Fun Facts About Count Von Count
Description: Number-loving distant relative of Count Dracula
Birthday: October 9. Rumor has it he is 1,832,652 years old!
Likes: Counting anything and everything
Favorite Activity: Counting!
Favorite Thing: Numbers! All of them!

The Transylvanian Count von Count is just mad about counting everything that crosses his path. Whether it’s black cats, cobwebs, bats, or belfries, if he sees it, he’ll count it. The stylish fellow with the impressive incisors is possibly a distant relative of Count Dracula, but he’s much more interested in counting people than harming them.
Whether he’s at home in his castle, talking with his friends, or hobnobbing with celebrities, the Count can always find some items that really need to be counted. He also enjoys singing about numbers while sporting his turned-up collar and monocle. An impressive crack of thunder and flash of lightning always accompany the number-friendly vampire’s counting, and then his trademark laugh rings out. This is one clever count. Ah-ah-ah!

Count von Count is a mysterious but friendly vampire-like Muppet on Sesame Street who is meant to parody Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Count Dracula. He first appeared on the show in 1972, in episode 0406, the Season 4 premiere with Bert and Ernie.
The Count has a compulsive love of counting (arithmomania); he will count anything and everything, regardless of size, amount, or how much annoyance he causes others around him. In one song he stated that he sometimes even counts himself. When he finishes counting, The Count laughs and announces his total (which sometimes appears on screen). This finale is usually accompanied by a crash of thunder and a flash of lightning. According to the story "Who Stole the Count's Thunder?" written by Tony Geiss, the Count has a personal cloud that hovers over his head and provides the thunder and lightning that lets him "know" when he has finished counting.[1]
When the Count sings, the music that accompanies him resembles Roma music, no matter what the song.
The Count's Sesame Workshop profile does not use the word vampire but does suggests that he may be a distant relative of Count Dracula.[2] However, the book Sesame Street Unpaved describes The Count as a "Numerical Vampire."[3] In contrast, the 2001 Sesame Street Muppets Drawing Guide insists "The Count is not a vampire."[4]
Nevertheless, the Count resembles Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Dracula in voice (speaking in an Eastern European accent and pronouncing his Vs as Ws), appearance, and sometimes mannerisms. For example, in early sketches, the Count waves his hands to exercise hypnotic power over other Muppets and holds his cape over the lower part of his face while moving.[5] In addition, an early skit revealed that the Count shows no reflection in a mirror. Unlike vampires as traditionally depicted in legend and motion pictures, however, the Count often relaxes in the sunlight (as seen in "Counting Vacation" and "Coconut Counting Man," among others). Furthermore, the Count has never demonstrated a fondness for blood or the ability to turn into a bat.
The Count lives in an old, cobweb-infested castle that he shares with many bats. Sometimes he counts them. Some of the pet bats are named, including Grisha, Misha, Sasha, and Tattiana. He also has a cat, Fatatita, and an octopus named Octavia. He also plays a large pipe organ, and in some illustrations he is seen playing the violin. In recent years, the Count has appeared on each episode to announce the Number of the Day, playing notes on his organ to count up to the featured number.
The Count's most recent girlfriend, Countess von Backwards, is known for counting backwards. He had previously been linked to Countess Dahling von Dahling and shared a brief romantic tryst with Lady Two. His brother and mother have made appearances on the show, and he also has an Uncle Uno.

Early days
The character was created by Sesame Street writer Norman Stiles. Performer Jerry Nelson recalled his immediate enthusiasm for the character in a 1999 interview:

Norman told me he was writing this piece with this new character who's called the Count... He's a vampire, but not a real vampire... He just has a jones for numbers. He's obsessed with counting things. So I went, "Oh, cool," and I went to Jim [Henson] and said, "You know, Norman's writing this new character called the Count." Jim said, "Let me hear it." So I went (in my Count voice), "Yes, I vould love to do it!" and Jim said, "Yes, you can do it." [6]

The Count is now a friendly, non-threatening figure on the Street, but his early appearances in 1972 had a more sinister edge. He had hypnotic powers, and was able to stun other Muppets by waving his hands.[5] After counting, he uttered a villainous laugh as lightning flashed in moody colors. He was often accompanied by creepy organ music. As the character matured, the sinister aspect of his personality was toned down, and his laugh became a throaty, Lugosi-style chuckle.
He made cameo appearances in The Muppet Movie (in the finale) and The Muppets Take Manhattan (in the wedding), and has also been featured in the Sesame Street movies Follow That Bird and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. He also appeared in The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years and A Muppet Family Christmas.
The Count made a special appearance on episode 518 of The Muppet Show, emerging with his Sesame co-stars from the Three Bears' cave when Ali Baba shouts, "Open Sesame!"
On November 14, 1988, Count co-hosted The Today Show with Meryl Sheep.
On December 11 2008, the Count was interviewed on More or Less, a BBC radio show about numbers.

Some traditional legends describe vampires as having a similar obsession with counting small objects; this obsession provides a means of distracting Vampires by tossing a handful of seeds or salt on the ground.
The Count's New York license plate number is "12345678910" in the movie Follow That Bird. However, in Count All the Way to Sesame Street, a book based on Follow that Bird, the Count's license plate number is simply "123."
The Count was a DJ for his own radio station on the album The Count's Countdown, and hosted a music video show in Count it Higher: Great Music Videos from Sesame Street.
In a Number of the Day segment for 0, The Count stated: "Oh hello, it is I, The Count. I'm called the Count because I love to count. Err, that, and I inherited my father's royal title." Despite this claim, the title of Count is one of nobility rather than royalty. (SSvideo) Thus, The Count's claim to royalty might rest on his having inherited a lesser title of a royal ancestor.
According to the book Sesame Street Unpaved, after Jon Stone read the first script of a Count skit, he sent it back to the writer, Norman Stiles, with a note scribbled atop: "Good character, bad bit". That skit was never produced.[3]
The Count states that his favorite TV show is 24.
In Count it Higher: Great Music Videos from Sesame Street, The Count says that his favorite song is "Count it Higher". However, the book Sesame Street Unpaved states that his favorite songs are "Born to Add" and "Count on Me."[3]
The Count's car is the Countmobile.
According to the 1998 book Sesame Street Unpaved, the Count is "written to represent an adult with the psychological age of someone who is 1,832,652 years old -- and still counting".[3]
Book appearances
Books starring Count von Count
The Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook (1973)
The Sesame Street ABC Storybook (1974)
The Sesame Street Book of Fairy Tales (1975)
Big Bird's Busy Book (1975)
See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Smell No Evil (1975)
The Sesame Street Postcard Book (1976)
Cookie Monster and the Cookie Tree (1977)
Who's Who on Sesame Street (1977)
The Sesame Street Bedtime Storybook (1978)
The Exciting Adventures of Super Grover (1978)
A Day on Sesame Street (1979)
Down on the Farm with Grover (1980)
Early Bird on Sesame Street (1980)
Look What I Found! (1980)
The Sesame Street Dictionary (1980)
The Sesame Street Pet Show (1980)
Special Delivery (1980)
What Did You Bring? (1980)
Oscar's Rotten Birthday (1981)
Prairie Dawn's Upside-Down Poem (1981)
The Sesame Street Circus of Opposites (1981)
The Sesame Street Sun (1981)
What Do You Do?(1981)
City (1982)
A Day at School (1982)
A Sesame Street Christmas (1982)
The Little Red Hen (1983)
There's No Place Like Home (1983)
Big Bird's Copycat Day (1984)
Big Bird Brings Spring to Sesame Street (1985)
Big Bird's Book of Rhymes (1985)
Ernie's Finish the Picture (1985)
Count All the Way to Sesame Street (1985)
Follow That Bird Activity Book (1985)
Follow That Bird coloring book (1985)
Grover's Book of Colors (1985)
I Can Count to Ten and Back Again (1985)
Count to Ten (1986)
Find the Shapes (1986)
Through the Year (1986)
Colors (1987)
Ernie's Neighborhood (1987)
A Rainy Day on Sesame Street (1987)
The Day Snuffy Had the Sniffles (1988)
A New Playground on Sesame Street (1988)
Come As You Are (1989)
I Can't Wait Until Christmas (1989)
Grover's Bad Dream (1990)
Museum of Monster Art (1990)
Big Bird Plays the Violin (1991)
Halloween Party (1991)
Sleep Tight! (1991)
What's in Oscar's Trash Can? and Other Good-Night Stories (1991)
Grover's 10 Terrific Ways to Help Our Wonderful World (1992)
We're Different, We're the Same (1992)
Elmo's Mother Goose (1993)
Around the Corner on Sesame Street (1994)
Elmo's Big Lift-and-Look Book (1994)
Sesame Street Stays Up Late (1995)
B is for Books! (1996)
Elmo Loves You (1997)
Pumpkin Patch Party (1997)
Slimey in Space (1998)
Where is Elmo's Blanket? (1999)
Elmo's ABC Book (2001)
Clap Your Hands! (2002)
Elmo Look and Find (2002)
Elmo Pops In! (2003)
Brought to You by... Sesame Street! (2004)
Boo! (2005)
Elmo's Easy As ABC (2005)
Elmo's Delicious Christmas (2005)
Red or Blue, I Like You! (2005)
Know Your Numbers (2006)
Learn About Counting with the Count (2006)
Elmo Visits the Dentist (2007)
Elmo's Favorite Places (2007)
Elmo's World Super Sticker Book (2007)
Friendly, Frosty Monsters (2007)
Let's Match (2007)
Music Player Storybook (2007)
Storybook ABCs (2008)
Count to 10 (2009)
Love, Elmo (2009)
1.0 1.1 Geiss, Tony (author); Nadel, Marc (illustrator) "Who Stole the Count's Thunder?", The Sesame Street Bedtime Storybook; Random House: New York, NY, 1978, pp. 40–43.
Sesame Workshop profile. Accessed November 19, 2009.
3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Borgenicht, David Sesame Street Unpaved; New York, NY: Hyperion, 1998, pp. 56–58.
Stevenson, Nancy W. (illustrator) Sesame Street Muppets Drawing Guide; Sesame Workshop: New York, NY, 2001, p. 9.
5.0 5.1 See, for example, Sesame Street Episode 0406.
"Still Counting: An Interview with Muppeteer Jerry Nelson" by Kenneth Plume, Muppet Central. March 1, 1999. Accessed November 19, 2009.
editSee also
Count von Count Sketches
International Count von Count
Retrieved from ""

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