One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of folk tales and other stories. It is often known in English as the Arabian Nights, from the first English language edition (1706), which rendered the title as The Arabian Nights' Entertainment.
The original concept is most likely derived from a pre-Islamic Persian prototype that probably relied partly on Indian elements, but the work as we have it was collected over many centuries by various authors, translators and scholars across the Middle East and North Africa. The tales themselves trace their roots back to ancient and medieval Arabic, Persian, Indian, Egyptian and Mesopotamian folklore and literature. In particular, many tales were originally folk stories from the Caliphate era, while others, especially the frame story, are most probably drawn from the Pahlavi Persian work Hazār Afsān. Though the oldest Arabic manuscript dates from the 14th century, scholarship generally dates the collection's genesis to around the 9th century.
What is common throughout all the editions of the Nights is the initial frame story of the ruler Shahryar (from Persian: شهريار, meaning "king" or "sovereign") and his wife Scheherazade (from Persian: شهرزاده, meaning "townswoman") and the framing device incorporated throughout the tales themselves. The stories proceed from this original tale; some are framed within other tales, while others begin and end of their own accord. Some editions contain only a few hundred nights, while others include 1,001 or more.
Some of the best-known stories of The Nights, particularly "Aladdin's Wonderful Lamp", "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves" and "The Seven Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor", while almost certainly genuine Middle-Eastern folk tales, were not part of The Nights in Arabic versions, but were interpolated into the collection by its early European translators.
The Muppet Show
The Muppet Show episode 518, with guest star Marty Feldman, presented the Muppets' take on One Thousand and One Nights. In a framing story, Feldman plays a disheveled Scheherezade, telling Muppet versions of the classic stories to the Swedish Chef's Caliph:
- Kermit the Frog plays Sinbad the Sailor, who claims to be "Sinbad the Surfer" when he's challenged by an evil genie (Sweetums).
- Gonzo plays Aladdin, who is granted a wish by the Genie of the Lamp (Feldman). Gonzo's wish involves a palace, and a chorus of dancing chickens, singing "In a Persian Market".
- A puppet version of Feldman appears as Ali Baba, with Fozzie Bear as the head of the Forty Thieves (or, as it turns out, the Three Bears). To escape being boiled in oil, Fozzie sings "Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight". When he yells "Open Sesame," the cast of Sesame Street emerges.
- In an episode of Monsterpiece Theater, the forty thieves insist that they be introduced along with Ali Baba before the story begins, but by the time Alistair Cookie finishes counting them, the show has run out of time. Alistar then announces that next week's story will be "Snow White and the Seven Dwarves". ("Me think me can get that one in.")
- "The Monster's Three Wishes" is a Sesame Street story with Cookie Monster in the Aladdin role, encountering a Genie in his toothpaste tube. The story first appeared in the 1973 book The Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook. In the story, the Genie offers Cookie Monster three wishes, and the monster decides that he wants a million cookies. But first he needs something to keep them in, so he wishes for a dish. The dish is too small for a million cookies, so his second wish is for a box. That's also too small, so he wishes for a truck to carry all the cookies in. When he finds he's out of wishes and can't get the million cookies, he eats the truck instead.
- An audio adaptation of "The Monster's Three Wishes" was recorded for the 1974 album "C Is for Cookie", with Herbert Birdsfoot as the narrator and Oscar the Grouch as the Genie.
- The story was adapted for the TV show in 1975, as a segment in Season 6. In the TV version, Bob narrates the story, and Cookie Monster's wishes are slightly different -- he wishes for a truck right at the start, but he's given a tiny toy truck. He then wishes for a bigger truck, and finally for the biggest truck of all. The ending is the same, with Cookie Monster eating the biggest truck.
- In a Sesame Street News Flash sketch from Season 8 (1976-1977), Aladdin's magic lamp is electrical, as opposed to the oil lamp traditionally used in the story. When Aladdin asks the Genie for help turning the light on, the Genie shoots back that he isn't an electrician, so Kermit suggests that Aladdin screw in a light bulb, plug the lamp into an electrical outlet, and turn on the switch. In addition to his magic lamp, Aladdin has a magic toaster and a magic hot-comb.
- In The Sesame Street Storytime Calendar 1982, the month of January parodied this story with Ernie playing the role of Aladdin and Big Bird portraying the Genie.
- Herry Monster played "Scheherryzade" in the 1991 book/tape set Scheherryzade and the Arabian Nights. The cranky Queen of Arabia has outlawed bedtime stories, until Scheherryzade tells her the story of Sinbad the Sailor (played by Grover). Sinbad is shipwrecked on an island, where he encounters a giant bird and a Cyclops. The Queen is so pleased with Scheherryzade's story that she allows bedtime stories to be told again. (Like the 2008 Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures segment, this story mixes an Arabian story with a character from Greek mythology, the Cyclops.)
- Aladdin and the Genie appear in the 1996 storybook Elmo's Lift-and-Peek Around the Corner Book.
- David Alan Grier guest starred as Aladdin in a 2002 episode of Sesame Street. Aladdin who visits Sesame Street to show off his amazing genie -- but the genie takes the day off, and Aladdin is stuck trying to show off by himself.
- In a 2008 Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures sketch, Ernie and Bert visit an Arabian town, where Ernie finds a dusty old lamp. He rubs it and a genie waitress comes out and grants them three wishes. Ernie wishes for a "Duckie Touch", where everything he touches turns into Rubber Duckies. (This sketch mixes the Arabian story of Aladdin with the King Midas story from Greek mythology.)
- In The Sesame Street Dictionary, Ernie plays the title character in a Ali Baba and his Forty Thieves pageant.
- Also in The Sesame Street Dictionary, Count von Count attends the theatre to see A Thousand and One Arabian Nights.